Opinions Do Not Reflect Those of the Management

New York mayor and purely theoretical presidential candidate Michael Bloomberg: Will he or won't he?
New York mayor and purely theoretical presidential candidate Michael Bloomberg: Will he or won't he? (By Mario Tama -- Getty Images)
By Al Kamen
Wednesday, January 23, 2008

J ay Lefkowitz-- President Bush's special envoy on North Korean human rights, or lack thereof -- sure created a fuss last week when he said the Commie regime of Kim Jong Il isn't serious about disarming and probably will still have nukes when a new president takes over, despite four years of six-party talks involving Washington, both Koreas, China, Japan and Russia.

Even worse, Lefkowitz, in a speech to the American Enterprise Institute, called for "a new approach" to North Korea that would link human rights to security matters and, when asked if he was speaking on behalf of the Bush administration, said the policy is "under review right now."

Talk about off message! The State Department folks went ballistic.

Rather than rely on news accounts of Lefkowitz's heresy, we decided to read a transcript that had been posted on the State Department's Web site. We clicked and clicked to no avail. All we got was: "We're sorry. That page can't be found and may have been moved."

Unclear who airbrushed -- or as they say at Foggy Bottom, Trotskyed -- the transcript, although Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice's sharp criticism yesterday of Lefkowitz gives a clue as to why they did the electronic white-out.

Lefkowitz "doesn't know what's going on in the six-party talks, and he certainly has no say on what American policy will be in the six-party talks," Rice told reporters traveling with her yesterday to Germany to discuss Iran's nuclear program.

Lefkowitz, she said, didn't speak for U.S. policy on that question and she doubted anyone in the talks would even recognize his name, according to the Associated Press.

Oh yes they would. The North Korean press yesterday blasted "hard-line" conservatives for trying to "stifle" North Korea. (Trust us, they're trying to do way more than that.) Meanwhile, buzz is that Lefkowitz told Bush two weeks ago that he wanted to resign, but Bush urged him to hang in there.

Despite the State Department's effort to delete Lefkowitz's views, we found the speech on the AEI Web site at http://www.aei.org/events/eventID.1635,filter.all/event_detail.asp.

Tick, Tick, Tick

There's been talk of late among the chattering class of growing Bloomberg Speculation Fatigue. Seems the calls of "Run, Mike, Run" for New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg's much-anticipated third-party presidential bid have been supplanted by "enough, already" complaints.

The unexpectedly chaotic nomination battles in both parties may be part of the problem. Bloomberg supporters would have been far happier if the parties' nominees had been picked by now.

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