Hughes Goes-a-Listening


As Americans sit glued to the reports of the maelstrom in the Gulf (with the same morbid fascination as watching a crippled airliner descend to the tarmac of LAX) the news from the other Gulf continues unabated. Overlooked was the departure of President Bush’s trusted aide Karen Hughes to the Middle East to mount a counter-PR campaign to (in Bush’s words) “…improve our government’s capabilities to confront terrorist propaganda quickly before myths have time to take root in the hearts and minds of people across the world.”

The effort will commence with a so-called “listening tour” in Muslim nations. Not to second guess the PR acumen of this administration — just look at how smoothly Judge Roberts’s confirmation went — but really, how much more listening is needed? A qualitative analysis of Al Jazeera’s coverage of Iraq over the last year should suffice.

Talking about the area’s most pervasive and credible (among Arabs) media voice, here’s what it had say about the effort: “Hughes has long been a power player in Washington and is viewed by many to be a genius in media spin tactics.”

Still, let’s give her the benefit of the doubt, and hope that her initial public posturing eventually produces recommendations for tangible new policies.