Thursday, June 04, 2009

The Cairo Speech

There is so much commentary on the president's speech in Cairo that I find I have little I can add of substance.

My thought after hearing the president's remarks is this: how much will this speech translate into concrete policy directives that guide the actions of government? Is the text of the speech going to be figuratively posted on every wall of every department and agency--and override pre-existing directives and procedures? Will mid-level career government employees be in a position to alter "standard operating procedures" and claim the president's speech as providing the "advance authorization"--or will the reaction be, until there is a formal change and we are notified, this is just presidential rhetoric?

Bob Blackwill, as ambassador to India, noted the disconnect between what the president was saying in his speeches, and what the president had told him personally, and the instructions he continued to receive from Foggy Bottom. Is this pattern going to repeat itself--or will the president's staff follow up by translating what was said in Cairo today into directives?

That's what I'll be watching.

Hello Professor,

I am admittedly a neophyte at understanding the complexities of these tangled issues concerning peace in the Middle East.

But as a expert on being a neophyte and assuming that there are more of us out there, isn't there a huge benefit to the American people of having their president outline the issues that are most often obfuscated or ignored by many in power? Does this not translate as a powerful message to the world? Is this not a good place to start with policy issues following?

I find in my own work that I must "tee things up" before moving into setting norms, policies.
Nothing wrong with that, anonymous 6:47--but what I think concerns Nik is the tendency of the bureaucracy to ignore, water down or alter what the president says or wants--meaning that the president himself has to ride herd to make sure things get done.
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