Could someone please explain to me what Karen Hughes is doing. Her maiden voyage to the Middle East has turned into a fiasco. She assures a room of Saudi women that they, too, will someday drive cars; they tell her they're actually happy right now, thank you. She meets with a group of Turkish women—hand-picked by an outfit that supports women running for political office—who brusquely tell her she has no credibility as long as U.S. troops occupy Iraq.
As bad as that is, it doesn't compare to what Sydney Blumenthal writes in today's Guardian. Blumenthal doesn't just pan her PR trip, he gets downright mean. From the Guardian:
This week, Hughes embarked on her first trip as undersecretary. Her initial statement resembled an elementary school presentation: "You might want to know why the countries. Egypt is, of course, the most populous Arab country... Saudi Arabia is our second stop; it's obviously an important place in Islam and the keeper of its two holiest sites ... Turkey is also a country that encompasses people of many different backgrounds and beliefs, and yet is proud of the saying that 'All are Turks'."
Earlier in the column Blumenthal took this shot at her memoir.
From her exile, Hughes produced Ten Minutes from Normal, a deeply uninteresting and unrevealing memoir. Long stretches of uninformative banality are broken by unselfconscious expressions of religiosity
Damn, that's harsh. For what it's worth, Hughes is the third person to hold this job in the Bush Administration. All three have been media types as if what America's image abroad needs is a little more zazz. This is a prime example of the difficulties the modern republican party runs into all of the time. They understand TV very well, that's how they get elected. Once elected, you find out they don't understand governance. Maybe they should all go run NBC and let the grown-ups govern the country.