He didn't say explicitly what those "poison pills" would be, so listeners were left to guess. An independant chain of command for UN forces? An open bidding process on contracts, with no favoritism for politically connected American companies? Colin Powell has made it clear over the past couple of days that neither would be acceptable to Dubya's crew, at least at the present time.
Now, some might consider demands like that to be at least arguably reasonable. That there are in fact grounds to question the basic competence of a command authority which luxuriates in Saddam's old palaces -- the hated symbols of the Baathist regime -- while leaving its own troops in the field far too long, performing duties for which they are completely untrained, short of everything from spare parts to food and water.
But perhaps that's not all. The French might have floated some genuinely unreasonable proposal. Something much more outrageous than some sort of joint command structure which they, along with the Russians, Indians and others are demanding in public, even if Mead couldn't be bothered to say what it was.
Because otherwise, even a respectable historian on "liberal" NPR would be spouting government propaganda which is totally divorced from reality. And that sort of thing just doesn't happen in America.
Late details: The Mead interview is here; his remarks on the UN start about two minutes in. For even more newspeaky doubleplusgoodness, check out this interview with scholar, and former CIA analyst Graham Fuller, in which he actually asks "How long can the Shiites sit around and not be part of the national struggle to free themselves from the liberation?"