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.”

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