Testimonies don't simply happen they are prepared. I've been through that process when getting ready to offer expert opinion in legal disputes. In such instances, and probably in most others, lawyers have two simple instructions: listen carefully to the question and answer only what is asked in the fewest possible words. A potentially hostile hearing in which questioners are on the clock seems to require something else altogether, the advice Dr. Rice was obviously given. Talk and then talk on. Bury them with words and run out their clocks. That's exactly what we witnessed this morning at the 9/11 Commission hearings. She was a master at it.
The networks went quickly into headline mode identifying the critical sound byte, "no silver bullet". Preparing for the worst, the spinsters are out there telling us that this is a politicized process. Watch how that tone changes if the Commission exonerates W's administration which, of course, would make for a non-partisan verdict. Without diminishing either the importance of the inquiry by what appear to be ten pretty serious people, nor the need to find a better way of integrating intelligence, the hearings are somewhat of a sideshow given what's going on in our world.
Even Tom Friedman, who long supported the war with or without WMD's, and in all fairness has consistently worried about the after, is getting increasingly frustrated and concerned. It doesn't matter that many of us opposed Iraq, considered it a distraction from the war on terrorism and perhaps even an inflaming factor, we are here now. Like it or not, George Bush and company has succeeded in merging the two wars. How we proceed against divergent but clearly mutually supportive uprisings in the North and South will undoubtedly impact what happens next — there, in the world and to us. Friedman can argue whether we're fighting the Viet Cong or the Kamer Rouge (NY Times 4/8), but I know a quagmire when I see it.
So Condi Rice talks on much as she has on every conceivable news program that will have her. She talks on in the hope that we might be distracted, which we dare not let happen. Personally, I prefer shorter answers to more questions. Considering how deep a hole we've dug for ourselves since 9/11 they better be good. Knowing they won't, let's hope we'll survive long enough to have a new, policy. I don't know about you, but I've had quite enough of robust.