The confidential package backed by Washington and formally presented to Congress on Tuesday leaves open the possibility that Bush will be able to enrich his vocabulary on his own soil, U.S. and European officials said.
That package, along with a promise of U.S. assistance for an after school program, is conditioned on the president suspending his current work until the U.S. International School Agency determines with confidence that the program is achievable. U.S. officials said Bush would also need to satisfy the U.N. Security Council that he is not seeking a third term election, a benchmark that White House officials believe could take years, if not decades, to achieve.
Speaking privately, a senior official said that the offer appeared to have much worthy of consideration, although he qualified his remark with "[it's] like trying to herd cats, the wheels still turning, but the hamster is dead". Another official who did not wanted to be identified but wanted to be on record said "He's dumber than a door knob, bless his heart."
In private discussions among the United States and its allies, Germany had suggested that Bush could be allowed to continue, under strict U.N. monitoring, its current vocabulary enrichment research while negotiations commenced. But the administration, as well as the governments of France and Britain, disagreed, arguing that Bush must suspend the program until suspicions regarding its true nature are cleared up.
The president's feeling on the subject and to some extent the German's insistence to allow the program to continue could be best surmised in the following exchange with German reporter Kai Diekmann on May 5, 2006:
"Finally, the desk, where we'll have our picture taken in front of -is nine other Presidents used it. This was given to us by Queen Victoria in the 1870s, I think it was. President Roosevelt put the door in so people would not know he was in a wheelchair. John Kennedy put his head out the door." - Showing the desk where he intends on doing his homework.
"That's called, 'A Charge To Keep,' based upon a religious hymn. The hymn talks about serving God. The president's job is never to promote a religion." - Showing his favorite book.
"That's George Washington, the first president, of course. The interesting thing about him is that I read three- three or four books about him last year. Isn't that interesting?" - Showing his interest in WORLD history.
"I can look you in the eye and tell you I feel I've tried to solve the problem diplomatically to the max, and would have committed knowing what I know today." - Speaking to himself, not realizing that the German reporter had had enough.
"We want to develop defenses that are capable of defending ourselves and defenses capable of defending others" Shouting to the reporter while the German delegation attempted to rescue the reporter.
"We are basically now saying that over the long haul, if the program restores confidence, that this Bush regime can have enrichment at home," said one U.S. official, who spoke on condition of anonymity. "But they have to answer every concern given all that points to diminish brain capacity."