Page 2 of 2   <      

Speaking French for All to Hear

Parry Mutual

To the uninitiated, it might seem that Bush administration spokesmen like to hide even the most ordinary bits of information, resorting to an oft-comical double talk. Not so. Take for example new spokesman Sean McCormack 's response to a question at yesterday's State Department briefing.

"Who initiated today's meeting between Condoleezza Rice and the Turkish foreign minister?" a reporter asked.

"Well, meetings are typically set up -- it requires the agreement of both parties. So it is a mutually agreed-upon time and date," McCormack said. This is a practical step taken to avoid having one party show up in, say, Cleveland at 4 p.m. on one day while the other is waiting at 3 p.m. in Denver on a different day.

"So it was by Ankara or was it requested by the U.S. government?" the reporter tried again, not knowing we were now into goofy-speak.

"I would say that, whenever we have the secretary meet with somebody," McCormack explained patiently, "that it is through mutual agreement that we hold the meeting."

Again, absolutely correct. Foreign ministers are only infrequently brought in shackles to the seventh floor at the State Department.

What obviously happened in this case is Turkish Foreign Minister Abdullah Gul and Secretary of State Rice picked up the phone at exactly the same time and called each other to meet. Happens all the time.

McCormack, who wore snappy French cuffs to his briefing on Friday, is off to an excellent start.

Vershbow's Getting Seoul

Also on the diplomatic front: The Asian press is reporting that Alexander "Sandy" Vershbow , a highly regarded career diplomat and most recently ambassador to Russia, is the pick to be ambassador to South Korea. Sounds right.

The British press has been fretting of late about the lack of an ambassador to the Court of St. James's. It's been a year since Washington has had an ambassador there. That's when William S. Farish , called "invisible" by one British pundit, came home. His presumed successor, Bush campaign mega-contributor Robert Holmes Tuttle ,has yet to be nominated.

From the Colonies to the Kingdom

Many Americans would love to get a job working for the president of the United States. Doubtless, the British would be thrilled to work for a prime minister. It is not often, though, that someone works for both.

But Sara Latham , who worked in the Clinton White House in the chief of staff's office and as deputy director of scheduling, has now secured a job in the Blair government as special adviser to Tessa Jowell , minister for culture, media and sport. Latham left for Brussels in 2000 to work for Microsoft Corp. and later for a communications firm in England. She then worked on Blair's campaign.

First Washington, Now the World

Also on the international front, new World Bank chief Paul D. Wolfowitz yesterday named the first members of his inner team, Robin Cleveland , most recently associate director of the Office of Management and Budget, to be his counselor, and Kevin Kellems , former communications director and spokesman for Vice President Cheney , to be his senior adviser.

<       2

© 2005 The Washington Post Company