In a fine essay that examines the waning fortunes and influence of U.S. Secretary of State Condoleeza Rice, Stanford University professor and former New York Times foreign policy correspondent Joel Brinkley writes:
About 2 1/2 years ago, when she was new in office, I accompanied her on her first trip around the world, with stops in India, Pakistan, Afghanistan, South Korea, Japan and China. Crowds gathered to see her limousine drive past; people whistled, waved and cheered. Interviewers routinely asked her whether she was planning to run for president. One TV reporter in India told her she was “arguably the most powerful woman in the world.” She chuckled but did not exactly agree--or disagree.
How things change.
A few months ago, she decided to write an opinion piece about Lebanon. She enlisted John Chambers, chief executive officer of Cisco Systems as a co-author, and they wrote about public/private partnerships and how they might be of use in rebuilding Lebanon after last summer’s war. No one would publish it.
Think about that. Every one of the major newspapers approached refused to publish an essay by the secretary of state. Price Floyd, who was the State Department’s director of media affairs until recently, recalls that it was sent to the Wall Street Journal, the New York Times and perhaps other papers before the department finally tried a foreign publication, the Financial Times of London, which also turned it down.
As a last-ditch strategy, the State Department briefly considered translating the article into Arabic and trying a Lebanese paper. But finally they just gave up. “I kept hearing the same thing: ‘There's no news in this,’” Floyd said. The piece, he said, was littered with glowing references to President Bush’s wise leadership. “It read like a campaign document.”