Playing the Game

PLAYING THE GAME….I’m puzzled by this:

Senior congressional aides said yesterday that the White House has proposed limiting the much-anticipated appearance on Capitol Hill next month of Gen. David H. Petraeus and Ambassador Ryan C. Crocker to a private congressional briefing.

….The skirmishing is an indication of the rising anxiety on all sides in the remaining few weeks before the presentation of what is widely considered a make-or-break assessment of Bush’s war strategy….Lawmakers from both parties are growing worried that the report — far from clarifying the United States’ future in Iraq — will only harden the political battle lines around the war.

Well, of course the report is going to harden the political battle lines around the war. But that’s never worried the White House before. So why the ridiculous suggestion that Petraeus and Crocker testify only in closed session? They couldn’t possibly have believed that anyone would agree to that.

I suppose the conclusion we’re supposed to draw is that the Petraeus/Crocker report is going to be negative and the White House is getting worried about losing Republican support. But this sounds more like expectations management to me than anything else. If everyone is expecting a bombshell, a merely mediocre report will end up being greeted with relief. And at this point, relief is probably about the best the White House can hope for.