Semi-Daily Journal Archive

The Blogspot archive of the weblog of J. Bradford DeLong, Professor of Economics and Chair of the PEIS major at U.C. Berkeley, a Research Associate of the National Bureau of Economic Research, and former Deputy Assistant Secretary of the U.S. Treasury.

Friday, September 22, 2006

OK: Dana Milbank Is a Valuable Asset

OK: Dana Milbank is still a valuable asset for the Washington Post--especially as he is sliding closer and closer to "The Daily Show" as time passes:

Dana Milbank - This Just In: The Iraq Study Group Has Nothing to Report - washingtonpost.com: Former secretary of state James Baker and former congressman Lee Hamilton (D-Ind.) called a briefing yesterday to give a "progress report."... "We're not going to get into that today," Baker replied.... Hamilton became categorical. "We've made no judgment of any kind at this point about any aspect of policy with regard to Iraq."

A few minutes later, one of the organizers called out: "We have time for one or two more questions." "But no time for any answers," one of the reporters muttered. "This is pitiful," contributed one of the cameramen, as reporters' smiles escalated into audible chuckles....

As a general rule, it's a bad idea to call a news conference if you have nothing to say. It's worse if you announce that answers are urgently needed but then decline to provide any.... But no matter how urgent the situation in Iraq, the solutions will have to wait at least until Nov. 8 -- and possibly much later -- because of a more urgent consideration: domestic politics. We're "going to report after the midterm election," Baker announced.

Bill Jones of Executive Intelligence Review asked the obvious question. "The situation in Iraq seems to be degenerating from day to day" and may not be a "salvageable situation" by November, he said. "Shouldn't the urgency be propelled by developments in Iraq rather than the calendar here?"

Baker didn't think so. "We think it's more important, frankly, to make sure whatever we bring forward is taken, to the extent that we can take it, out of domestic politics," he said.

Baker, a troubleshooter for President Bush, said "We have said from Day One that we were going to report after the midterm election." In fact, Baker said on Day One -- the commission's launch on March 15, 2006 -- that "we have not set a time frame" and that "we may come forward with some interim reports."

The only thing the two would say yesterday is that they had met with lots of people, including several Iraqis.... "How much were you able to leave the Green Zone while you were in Baghdad?" a woman in the audience asked. Baker admitted that only one of the 10 members, former senator Charles Robb (D-Va.), left the capital's heavily fortified enclave.... "[W]e didn't want somebody to write a story that we were cowboyin' down there in Iraq" [said Baker]. And besides, cowboy Hamilton added, "we had a very brief period in Iraq."...

"The people of Iraq have the right to expect immediate action," Hamilton said. Providing, of course, they don't expect it from the Iraq Study Group.

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