TARGETS AND TIMELINES….Andrew Sullivan on what New Orleans means for Iraq:

The death toll because of the administration’s incompetence is a human tragedy. At a deeper level, as a believer that we have to win in Iraq, I worry that the public’s trust in anything this administration says about reality may soon disappear altogether. The will we need to persevere in Iraq depends to some extent on trust in the administration. The trust, already battered, may now collapse. This calamity happened in a region where support for the president was relatively strong. It benefits none of us ? least of all the beleaguered Iraqis ? that this has happened and is still happening. But we know now at least how the citizens of Iraq must feel ? besieged, bereft of sufficient security, and reassured by smug Bush administration pabulum. They’re on their own, just as surely as the remaining citizens of New Orleans were left to fend for themselves. But, hey, stuff happens, doesn’t it?

Can there really be any doubt left that we need very public targets and timelines for our operation in Iraq? This administration is obviously incapable of working without oversight, and that means specific goals, specific timetables, and specific accountability for meeting them. Without that, we’ll be in Iraq forever, slipping further behind with every month that passes.