Tuesday, March 30, 2004

Well, Well: Condi will go before the panel, and before the cameras. You can't help but wonder whether this was a strategy to get the audience stirred up, then send the good Dr. Rice in front of the cameras to calmly refute Richard Clarke.

At any rate, the legal wrangling that led up to this reversal

(To reach the compromise, the administration said Tuesday it had won agreement from the commission that it would seek no further public testimony from White House officials and that Rice's appearance would not be viewed as a precedent.)
could have been hammered out weeks ago. Why the delay, if not strategic? As I said before, I think the separation doctrine is sufficient. And I think that Rice's private testimony was too. Whatever the White House thinks this move will buy them, they've pretty clearly heaped their hopes onto Condi's back. I imagine this will be a serious media event, followed by some seriously dull parsing of words.

More: So much for strategy. I listened to the president's press briefing on this. Am I mistaken that the presumption was that he'd take questions? This was a seriously bad move. Why send the president out to simply read a statement (and a reversal of policy, at that)? Hell, if you're going to capitulate to the chattering classes, at least do it with some style.

The administration, and the campaign for that matter, seems not to have grasped the relatively simple concept that the media is an insatiable carnivorous bitch goddess. Karl Rove just sent Bush, rather than some underling, out to snub them. The press theme for the past week or so was "Why won't Condi testify?" The administration seems to think that yesterday's strategic retreat makes this week's theme "She will testify!" Wrong. The new theme is "Dramatic reversal + nonsubstantive explanation = playing politics."

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