Bush Flip-Flops (Again) on 9/11 Commission

This zinger:

“If the president of the United States can find time to go to a rodeo, he can find the time to do more than one hour in front of a commission that is investigating what happened to America's intelligence,” Mr. Kerry told hundreds of supporters at a rally in West Palm Beach on Monday afternoon.

Produced this:

White House: Bush will take all questions of 9/11 panel: President Bush will privately answer all questions raised by a federal commission investigating the Sept. 11 attacks, the White House said Tuesday, apparently dropping a one-hour limit on the president's testimony.

The shift came on the heels of accusations by presumed Democratic presidential nominee John Kerry that Bush was “stonewalling” investigations of the terrorist attacks and U.S. intelligence failures.

This is Bush's second flip-flop on the 9/11 commission issue alone. And you wonder why — when faced with such a strong, resolute negotiator — the North Koreans are suddenly saying they have a new condition for scrapping their nukes?

North Korea's government said it will make the pullout of U.S. forces from South Korea a condition of a nuclear agreement, unless the U.S. stops insisting that an accord require the North to dismantle its weapons program first.

North Korea also will demand a “complete, verifiable, irreversible security assurance'' from the U.S. in exchange for American insistence the nuclear program be dismantled on those terms, the official Korea Central News Agency said in a release.

Of course, the two situations are not parallel: the Bush position on the 9/11 commission was absurd, while taking a tough line with North Korea is not. But will the North Koreans understand the difference? I think this Adminstration is starting to look weak abroad. I trust this doesn't mean we are in for a new round of foreign adventurism, if only because there are no ground troops left to spare to conduct it.

Update: Well, is it a flip-flop or not? The NYT version of the story suggests an administration artfullly trying to have it both ways:

He's going to answer all the questions they want to raise,” the White House spokesman, Scott McClellan, told reporters today. When pressed, Mr. McClellan repeated this statement but did not clarify whether the time restriction had been dropped.

“That's what it's scheduled for, an hour, but look, he's going to answer all the questions that they want to raise,” Mr. McClellan said.

The spokesman said the president still planned to meet only with the panel's top two officials.

Whassamater, he's afraid of witnesses?

Another update: Actually, if this press gaggle is the source of the story quoted above, then it seems like the adminstration is not able to bring itself to say it will answer all the questions. Presumably, after about 68 minutes Bush will leave, and announce he answered an unprecedented number of questions. And the Republican chair won't contradict him.

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