Hey, Karl Rove!! Over here!!!
Glenn Reynolds offers some advice for Karl Rove: One suspects that most big media outlets, already none-too-eager to cover the Sandy Berger Trousergate fiasco, will use the release of the 9/11 Commission report as an excuse to ignore it. If I were Karl Rove, I’d encourage Republicans to counter this by prefacing all comments on ...
Glenn Reynolds offers some advice for Karl Rove:
One suspects that most big media outlets, already none-too-eager to cover the Sandy Berger Trousergate fiasco, will use the release of the 9/11 Commission report as an excuse to ignore it. If I were Karl Rove, I’d encourage Republicans to counter this by prefacing all comments on the report with something like this: “In light of the ongoing criminal investigation involving charges that former Kerry foreign policy adviser Sandy Berger stole top secret documents from Commission files, we can’t be sure that the Commission had all the facts at its disposal, but. . . “
With all due respect to Glenn, that’s really, really bad advice. The business with Berger is an inside-the-Beltway story that certainly diminishes Berger’s standing but in the end doesn’t amount to much (see Fred Kaplan’s Slate assessment for more — I’m not quite as sanguine as Kaplan, for reasons Tom Maguire lays out here). The 9-11 Commission report, on the other hand, amounts to a great deal. What’s at stake isn’t the post-mortem spin on responsibility for 9/11 as much as “where do we go from here?” The policy recommendations for intelligence, counterterrorism, homeland security and congressional oversight are all elaborate and important (I’ll reserve judgment on the foreign policy recommendations). I care a hell of a lot more about that than what was in Sandy Berger’s trousers, and I suspect most Americans do as well. Peter Robinson’s advice to Karl Rove over at The Corner makes a great deal more sense:
Shouldn’t the President address the nation tonight? He could thank the Commission and say his top priority is making sure this doesn’t happen again…he should be a hard*** on this issue, but instead he meekly takes the report and says it is “solid”…that’s it? Doesn’t he understand this is THE issue? Why isn’t he talking about the Patriot Act, Airline Safety, Intelligence, and Border security EVERY DAY until election day…
Indeed. This report contains some useful, nonpartisan suggestions for policy reforms — some of which transfer coordinating powers to the White House, something every President likes. So Karl, tell Bush to own this report. Make it clear to the American people that he gets it, and takes the issue seriously. Leave Berger’s post-mortem to the blogs. UPDATE: Alan Wirzbicki praises 9-11 Commission executive director Philip Zelikow over at TNR Online, echoing what I said a few weeks ago. ANOTHER UPDATE: Fred Kaplan agrees on the virtues of the Commission’s proposed reforms — and, in a roundabout way, what the President needs to do about it:
Everything that the panel wants to do has been tried, in one way or another, in the past. The government doesn’t change in so dramatic a fashion unless the president pushes hard for the change. New priorities mean nothing unless budgets reflect them. New superagencies mean nothing unless their managers have the power to control the purse strings of their constituent parts. Better intelligence means nothing unless the president wants to hear it—and at least seriously considers acting on it.
Daniel W. Drezner is a professor of international politics at the Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy at Tufts University and co-host of the Space the Nation podcast. Twitter: @dandrezner
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