Rich Galen

The White House staff played its role in this multi-national Kabuki dance by insisting the memo had nothing whatever to do with the cancellation. The Iraqis claimed the dinner had never been on Maliki's schedule in the first place and therefore it would have been impossible for him to change his plans by walking down the hallway of the same hotel and having a little something to nosh on.

The next morning Maliki cleared his schedule enough to be able to spend some four hours with President Bush, so they got done what they needed to get done.

The gravitational effect we can detect from all this is that Maliki had been put into a box by his supporters - the Shiites - with regard to meeting with the President but Maliki really needed to meet with the President.

So, the US State Department came up with a plan: Leak the memo. Let Maliki feign anger over it and diss the President by being a no-show at dinner, thus calming the waters on both the Tigris and Euphrates Rivers in Baghdad by signaling to the home town folks he didn't have to meet with Bush if he didn't want to.

Pretty smart, really. Good statecraft.

On the Secret Decoder Ring today: Links to the NY Times coverage of the Hadley memo and the AP's reporting on how Maliki played his part in the play. A Mullfoto of the first bumper sticker of the 2008 cycle and a Catchy Caption of the Day.

Rich Galen

Rich Galen has been a press secretary to Dan Quayle and Newt Gingrich. Rich Galen currently works as a journalist and writes at