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KEEPING YOU BAREFOOT AND PREGNANT! For the third time, the Post types up Charles Krauthammer’s bowdlerized script:


THE CONDI RULES: This morning, we offer a truncated HOWLER! Yes, we’ve called the analysts in from battle stations so they can watch the Condi confab. But did you really think that Darling Condi would have to play by Big Boy Rules? Instead, the commission has decided to change its procedures so no one will think they were mean or unfair. In Insider Washington, it’s a hard rule—Icon Condi must always be pampered. Dan Eggen puts a smiley-face on the change in this morning’s Post:

EGGEN: The panel decided in a closed-door meeting last night that each member would have about 10 minutes of questioning and that they would proceed in alphabetical order, several members said. The approach is a departure from the commission’s previous practice of appointing two lead questioners who had more time than the others, and reflects the members' desire to be aggressively involved in the high-profile hearing.
Commissioners just want to ask questions! And oh yes, this too: Up is down! In this morning’s New York Times, Philip Shenon is a bit more frank about the “gentler tone” Condi will face:
SHENON: Panel members said that during the meeting on Wednesday the commission settled on their procedures for questioning Ms. Rice, with Mr. Kean and Mr. Hamilton as the leading questioners at the start of the hearing, followed by a round of questions by each of the other commissioners.

That would suggest a gentler tone in the initial questioning of Ms. Rice than was seen with Mr. Clarke and other Clinton and Bush administration witnesses who were subjected to harsh questioning virtually from the start of their hearings. Mr. Kean and Mr. Hamilton, who are considered moderate in both their politics and their temperaments, have asked few questions in recent public hearings.

Bob Kerrey, a Democratic member of the panel and former senator from Nebraska, said in an interview after the meeting that Mr. Kean and Mr. Hamilton had told the panel’s members that “we’ve got a tough job tomorrow—tougher than Dr. Rice’s job, because we have to ask tough questions that don't appear to be partisan.”

Mr. Kerrey said that the commission’s leaders appeared to be concerned that Ms. Rice would be seen as being treated with unfair harshness by the panel.

Meanwhile, let’s go ahead and state the obvious: Official Washington would scream and scowl if Richard Ben-Veniste got to question Darling Condi at length. No, this change may not make a giant difference. But it helps you see the hopeless way Inside Washington fawns to its favorites.

THE KRAUTHAMMER SCRIPT: Meanwhile, Krauthammer’s script just keeps spreading (see THE DAILY HOWLER, 4/2/04). This morning, the Post misleads its readers in the new standard way for the third time in the past seven days. Robert Samuelson does the honors, reciting the script in his op-ed column:

SAMUELSON: Even if Bush had heeded [Richard] Clarke, it wouldn’t have made much difference. His proposal included more aid to the anti-Taliban Northern Alliance and more missions for Predator drones over Afghanistan. If his plan had been adopted, was “there the remotest chance that it would have prevented 9/11?” asked former senator Slade Gorton, a member of the Sept. 11 commission. “No,” said Clarke. The Sept. 11 conspirators were already here; the FBI hadn’t detected the plot. Experience since Sept. 11 confirms that greater vigilance and aggressiveness don’t always suffice. Osama bin Laden remains at large. Heightened intelligence didn’t avert the Madrid bombings.
Clearly, the Post doesn’t want you to know what Clarke has said. Could 9/11 have been averted? We don’t have the slightest idea. But Clarke has said two things on the subject, as Samuelson and his editor, Fred Hiatt, both know:
  1. He has said that 9/11 would not have been averted by the provisions in his January 2001 plan.
  2. He has said that 9/11 might have been averted if Bush had gone to “battle stations” with his principals in the summer of 2001.
Clearly, the Post wants you to know about Point 1. And it wants Point 2 disappeared.

Readers, co-chairmen Kean and Hamilton have both now said that 9/11 might have been averted. (They haven’t said what they mean by that statement.) But for reasons only known to the Post, the paper wants you to think something different. This is the third time in the past week that the Post has presented this mocking recital. The Post wants its readers barefoot and pregnant. With that noble goal in mind, it keeps typing Krauthammer’s script.