Our colleague Glenn Kessler wrote Tuesday that “No Higher Honor” is “the first serious memoir of the Bush presidency” — thus cavalierly dismissing a quartet of tomes by Bush himself, Don Rumsfeld, Dick Cheney and Hank Paulson. Indeed, the first three — haven’t read Paulson’s — were largely self-justifying ruminations of the authors’ excellent performance in office.
Rice’s, on the other hand, despite some flaws, is reported to be a much more candid assessment of her eight years at the very top of the foreign policy decision-making world during the Bush presidency. Serious policy wonks will find much to ponder.
But the really interesting stuff involves the late dictator Moammar Gaddafi’s obsession with her and her 2008 meeting with him, which she labels “historic.” (Alas, not so much anymore, given recent events.)
According to an “exclusive excerpt” last week in the Daily Beast, she recounts his weird obsession with his “African princess” and his plan to meet her in his tent. She declined and met him in his formal residence.
Then there’s an odd digression in which she writes that she stopped in Portugal en route to Tripoli. The purpose of the stop, which goes unmentioned, was to try to get Portugal to agree to take some of the prisoners at Guantanamo Bay.
Rice writes that she also asked the Portuguese foreign minister for advice on how to handle the wacky dictator.
Most curiously, she tells us she was “staying with my friends Ambassador Thomas Stephenson and his wife, Barbara.” (Stephenson was a venture capitalist and major Bush donor.) An oddly extraneous detail. Seems almost a private shout-out to some pals, or maybe a product placement in a movie.
The Daily Beast, apparently without realizing it, gives a clue by quickly following the Gaddafi encounter excerpt with a brief bio of Rice, not in the book itself, that says she “is the Thomas and Barbara Stephenson Senior Fellow on Public Policy at the Hoover Institution” at Stanford University. That’s also the job she had before she became national security adviser.
Oh. That Thomas and Barbara Stephenson.