Protect the Bubble at All Costs
Isn't it astounding that, as described in this story by David Sanger in the New York Times, Bush's phony bipartisan "consultation" with the wise men (and one woman) from the last forty years of the State Department actually consisted of a forty-minute, upbeat "briefing" about Iraq, followed by no more than ten minutes for comments and questions from the assembled oracles?
Don't get me wrong, it's not astounding that Bush didn't actually want to hear any advice from outside the bubble. That fits everything we know about his personality. What's astounding is that his handlers didn't look at the schedule and say, "Whoa, even we can't get away with something this transparent. We gotta leave at least half an hour for discussion." (That would have permitted about two minutes per guest, which doesn't seem excessive.)
What it says to me is that Bush is even more testy and temperamental than we already knew. Those closest to him obviously realize that, if he were made to listen to dissenting views for longer than ten minutes (much less than that, actually, since some of the visitors would be supportive of the administration), he would be apt to fly off the handle--to start cursing, yelling, making sarcastic remarks, invoking divine authority, or otherwise embarrassing himself in front of a crowd of people whose discretion with the media couldn't necessarily be counted on.
So the plan was, "Let's limit the conversation to ten minutes and maybe we can get him out of the room before he blows up."
Pathetic? Yes. Scary? More than a little.