A View From The Handbasket

Friday, May 26, 2006
Experiments in candor
Posted by neros_fiddle at 8:34 AM
For longtime Bush watchers, the President's relatively frank comments at yesterday's joint press conference with Tony Blair were somewhat eyebrow-raising. For a President who has stubbornly (some would say pathologically) resisted admitting any blame or error, freely offering up two examples of "missteps" in the Iraq war is certainly a novelty.

Yet even here, things seem carefully stage-managed. Bush said he regretted his "tough talk," specifically the "bring 'em on" comment daring insurgents to attack American troops. While this is a higher level of honesty than we've seen previously, it's really an evolution of Bush's longstanding tendency toward faux self-deprecation (he likes to talk about his average grades and modest grammatical skills) -- he's not talking about any failures of policy, just personal regrets. It's politically low-risk.

In addition, he mentioned Abu Ghraib. The administration has carefully insulated itself from blame in that particular scandal, so regretting Abu Ghraib doesn't imply any fault on the part of the White House. So, again, politically low-risk.

What we have are baby steps toward some sort of accountability, but not in any areas that directly reference administration policy. It's an interesting tactic, but so far an empty one.

Stay tuned over the holiday weekend -- I have a special treat in the works.

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