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Posted at 04:49 PM ET, 12/14/2011

Brent Scowcroft and the art of sleeping through the meeting


Scowcroft snoozing on Air Force One in 1989. (George Bush Presidential Library and Museum)

Hey, is this a tribute or a roast? Brent Scowcroft was toasted Tuesday night at an Atlantic Council dinner at the Mandarin Oriental, but the topic that kept coming up was the two-time national security advisor’s habit of falling asleep in meetings. C’mon, now, who among us hasn’t done that?

He was apparently so known for snoozing that it became a running joke. George H.W. Bush (the second of his White House bosses; he also served under Gerald Ford) even used to give out a “Scowcroft Award” to fellow boardroom narcoleptics.

In a video tribute, Bush 41 said he couldn’t make it to the party — because of “old-age issues” — but extended his best wishes to Scowcroft as his wife leaned in and whispered into his ear. “Barbara just brought up a good point,” Bush added. “Are you still awake?”

The think-tank dinner at the Mandarin Oriental drew a number of veteran high-security-clearance bigwigs: Robert Gates, Henry Kissinger, Sandy Berger, Tom Donilon, Gen. James Jones and other military brass. Most provocative point of the evening: When Zbigniew Brzezinski bemoaned that Scowcroft had to leave the job after Bush lost in 1992, arguing that with his influence, “we would have seen peace in the Middle East.”

By  |  04:49 PM ET, 12/14/2011

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