"But eventually other forces come into play. Gradually pressure builds until Mr. Bush's advisers — including Ms. Rice herself in this case, several officials said — determine that the cost is too high."
For the Chattering Class, there's little doubt about the reason for the shift in the White House's view.
The Washington Post's Mike Allen and Dan Eggen report that "Bush allies on Capitol Hill and elsewhere in Washington said Rice had undercut her position by repeatedly granting high-profile television interviews to rebut Clarke, and in the process discussing at length the very subjects that were of interest to the commission." LINK
The Los Angeles Times' Reynolds and Miller lead their paper's coverage thusly: "Caving in to pressure from both parties … " LINK
Janet Hook provides the Los Angeles Times analysis piece with (positive) reaction from the Hill. LINK
The Los Angeles Times edit board: LINK
"Rice's appearance should have been an easy call. That it wasn't illustrates this administration's disregard for the public's right to know."
BC04 seems optimistic about the public's reception of Rice's public testimony.
"'Condi knocks it out of the park,' said a Bush-Cheney campaign official who requested anonymity. 'This person is knowledgeable and credible and has been on top of the global war on terror from the beginning. She is one of the administration's best assets.'" LINK
But the questioning will be tough.
The Washington Post's Dan Eggen boils it down: "Bob Kerrey, a former Nebraska senator and a Democratic member of the commission, said in an interview yesterday that two key questions for Rice will be whether the Bush team ranked terrorism as a significant priority before the al Qaeda attacks on New York and Washington and, if not, why not."
"'The contradictions [between Rice and Clarke] are really centered on how serious did you regard terrorism and where did you put it on the list?' Kerrey said. "When you came into transition, what did you regard as the number one strategic threat to the United States? What did you regard as the number two threat? . . . They had criticized the Clinton administration's policies during the campaign and set out to change those policies. That's really the central question.'" LINK
Others, from USA Today:
"Was the administration so focused on Iraq that it neglected to heed Clarke's warnings about al-Qaeda attacks?" LINK
"Did the administration consider military action against al-Qaeda before Sept. 11?"
"Why did it take eight months to develop an al-Qaeda policy that wasn't much different from the Clinton approach."
The New York Times' Lewis looks at executive privilege. LINK
"'Executive privilege is, in the end, a combination of law and politics,' said Louis Fisher, a senior researcher at the Congressional Research Service, who has written a book on the issue."
The New York Times editorial board appears to be unimpressed with the president's possible motives in reversing course. LINK
" … Mr. Bush did the right thing only under intense political pressure and after he had already undermined the principles he claimed to be upholding."
ABC News Vote 2004: Bush-Cheney re-elect:
The Wall Street Journal's Bob Davis delivers one for the "If Bill Clinton did this" files.