President Bush created a bit of a stir Wednesday when he inexplicably walked out in the middle of an important U.N. Security Council meeting on terrorism, right in the middle of a speech by the leader of Benin.
Delegates thought it was another example of American arrogance -- U.S. officials are notorious for leaving meetings in mid-session, especially at the General Assembly. Russia's Vladimir Putin, Britain's Tony Blair and China's Hu Jintao sat patiently through the less-than-riveting address.
But it appears that Bush meant no insult, judging from a note he handed to Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice shortly before he left.
Bush, after waiting while a member of his security detail swept a nearby bathroom, used the facilities and return to the meeting a few minutes later.
The Big Picture
Some people simply can't get with the program. Take Rep. David R. Obey (D-Wis.), for example. House Speaker J. Dennis Hastert (R-Ill.) announced Wednesday that he was sending a bipartisan House Appropriations Committee trip to New Orleans to check things out.
But Obey, the committee's top Democrat, demurred. "At this point, all efforts should be focused on helping those in need and recovering the dead," Obey said in a statement. "There will be plenty of time for politicians to play visiting fireman, but right now any congressional trip can't help but end up being a dog-and-pony show," he said, attacking a congressional tradition nearly as sacred as pork itself.
"I've seen congressional trips in these situations become photo ops that take time and energy away from emergency activities," continued Obey, a three-decade veteran of the committee. "We need to give emergency responders a week or so to do their work and stabilize the situation before we divert their attention by asking them to be congressional travel guides. Photo ops can come later. We have no business posing for them now. At this point, one of the watchdogs we may need is a watchdog to keep Congress from getting in the way of people doing real work."
Turns out the committee isn't likely to be going for a while, but an assorted bipartisan group of 20 House members is taking off this weekend.
The Senate, which, fortunately, values tradition, dogs and little ponies, would not be deterred.
Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist (R-Tenn.) and Minority Leader Harry M. Reid (D-Nev.) promptly announced yesterday that they would be leading a delegation leaving today on a one-day trip "to assess Katrina rescue and recovery efforts." The delegation "will hold . . . media availabilities" at Harrah's casino in New Orleans, in Pass Christian, Miss. and at the airport in Mobile, Ala., the announcement said.
The delegation includes the two leaders and GOP Sens. Thad Cochran (Miss.), Susan Collins (Maine), Mike Enzi (Wyo.), James M. Inhofe (Okla.), Richard C. Shelby (Ala.) and John W. Warner (Va.). The Democratic senators are Max Baucus (Mont.), Richard J. Durbin (Ill.), Edward M. Kennedy (Mass.), Joseph I. Lieberman (Conn.) and Debbie Stabenow (Mich.).
A Heck of a (New) Job
Reminder: Midnight Monday's the deadline for the Loop "Brownie's Next Gig" Contest. Submit your suggestions for what former FEMA director Michael D. Brown's next job should be. Send your entry via e-mail to firstname.lastname@example.org or mail it to In the Loop, The Washington Post, 1150 15th St. NW, Washington, D.C. 20071.