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A few loose ends

As my tens of loyal readers know, I've recently missed an entire week of commentary during what turned out to be a very busy news cycle. There's no sense in belaboring matters ex post facto, but for completeness's sake, I'll briefly address the two major news stories of the past week.

I was dismayed to learn the situation in Iraq had not improved during my absence, but I found the transcript of the president's speech to be somewhat encouraging (with this president, these things always read better than they sound). Bush certainly understands that his re-election hinges on gaining control of the situation in Iraq, and if that requires additional troops then so be it. It's unfortunate that it seems to require an impending election to coerce this administration into reexamining some of its decisions, but there you have it. I understand the oft-repeated maxim that no war plan survives contact with the enemy. The American public understands it as well, and they are willing to forgive a flawed war plan if it's coupled with a willingness to adapt and modify tactics and strategy in response to current realities on the ground. Many of the president's most ardent supporters in the war have been discouraged by the White House's pig-headed obstinacy in refusing to admit to any miscalculation. We're not asking for the kind of public mea culpa that the press corps solicited as fodder for a Kerry campaign ad, but simply a tacit acknowledgment that things, as they stand, are not working. I think we got that in the president's speech. It was belated and grudging perhaps, but I view it as a positive development.

There's not much I can say about the 9/11 commission. I am disappointed yet not surprised that such an important proceeding has degenerated into a crass, partisan blame game. I suppose we expected too much.