Recently, The Post has made much of the recurring inability of the attorney general, in spite of a fabled memory, to recall what occurred at meetings in which he was a leading participant.
In 30 years of service, I have participated in a number of meetings with Cabinet officers, some of whom were also noted for their fine memories. In these meetings, many lower-level officials made statements that played parts in major decisions. I can recall my own remarks in these meetings almost verbatim, even though many years have passed. Such occurrences are high points in the lives of bureaucrats. To have one's recommendations adopted by an agency chief is heady wine. Sadly, it's certain that these Cabinet members have no recollection of the meetings, the subjects or, even sadder, of me or my brilliant repartee.
Cabinet officers hold many meetings every day at which important topics are discussed. Many of the people talking at these meetings are playing the best bit parts of their lives, and their grandchildren will have to listen to these oft-told tales to the point of tears to obtain their ice cream. The agency heads, on the other hand, must quickly block out the memory of these meetings and move on to the next act.
This is in no way an attempt to defend inappropriate behavior. However, readers not familiar with the federal decision process should be aware that what is indelibly stamped in the brain of one meeting participant may not even rate much time in the short-term memory of another.
W. J. BRENNAN Fairfax