Notes on the Atrocities
Like a 100-watt radio station, broadcasting to the dozens...

Monday, April 05, 2004  

Not to make too much of Condi's forthcoming testimony at the 9/11 Commission, but the election could be riding on it. She has to accomplish two things, and they're both going to be tall tasks. First, she must somehow refute the most damning charges against the administration. Second, she must appear credible while doing it.

As to the first task, it's going to be tough:

In February 2001, George J. Tenet, the director of central intelligence, told Congress that terrorism was the top threat facing the United States.

Even four months later, as intelligence warnings about possible attacks by Al Qaeda began to surge, a June 2001 address that Dr. Rice delivered to Council on Foreign Relations on "Foreign Policy Priorities and Challenges of the Administration" made no mention of terrorism....

Administration officials said that even in the context of fighting terrorism, Ms. Rice was reluctant to budge from other matters that were higher on her agenda. They said that concern about an attack on the United States was usually in the context of the potential for a missile from North Korea or another rogue state, buttressing the case for missile defense....

Indeed, Ms. Rice's biggest vulnerability may have been that when she came to Washington in 2001, she was determined to quickly tackle three tasks that had little to do with terrorism: refocusing the nation's diplomacy on big-power politics, chiefly Russia and China; fulfilling Mr. Bush's pledge of a missile-defense system; and steamlining the security council, getting it out of what she called "operational matters."

The second task may be easier--and surely some of the questions will be softballs designed to give her cover. But here's the rub: the bar is so much higher now that members of the administration have spent two weeks flopping around like chickens with their heads cut off. Had they agreed with Clarke, conceded the obvious point that not enough was done, and apologized, I'm confident no further questions would have been asked. But this is an adminstration with a God complex, so any admission of failure apparently blows its self-image of omnicience. Which means that Condi now has a whole slate of claims to defend that were made since Clarke's testimony.

I don't know how others react to Condi, but to me, she's the least credible member of the administration (after Dubya). It seems like whenever the White House is under attack, she offers up the biggest whoppers. I once remarked to a friend that listening to Condi defend Bush was to hear the "sound of lies."

The testimony isn't going to help Bush--the best it can do is stop the bleedng. If she tanks, however, it might mark the tipping point in the election--the moment when Bush lost the election.

posted by Jeff | 7:20 AM |
Blogroll and Links