Did Rice have to testify today?

Am I the only one who thinks it was bizarre to have the Condi Rice testimony go on as scheduled today, in the middle of what is shaping up as the major battle of the War in Iraq? If the President’s National Security Adviser didn’t have something better to do today, we need a new National Security Adviser.

Of course, any time there’s an inquiry (whether it’s a Congressional hearing, a Commission, or a criminal investigation) preparing testimony is going to take time and attention away from actually getting the work done. That’s part of the price of democracy. [It’s obviously an abuse when inquiry is used as a means of punishment and interference, as it was so effectively used against the Clinton Administration.]

But this week isn’t like last week or the week before, and we have to hope that it won’t be like next week or the week after. This week the success of our attempt to give Iraq a workable, non-tyrannical, non-theocratic government and civil peace is on the line.

No, I didn’t think about this until last night. But then I don’t think about this stuff for a living. And yes, the Commission is straining hard to meet its deadline in the face of White House stonewalling. Still, I fault Kane, Hamilton, and Zelikow for not trying to move the schedule around. Or maybe they offered and Rice declined. But Condi’s skill, or lack thereof, as a tap-dancer just seems like the wrong thing to be paying attention to right now.

Author: Mark Kleiman

Professor of Public Policy at the NYU Marron Institute for Urban Management and editor of the Journal of Drug Policy Analysis. Teaches about the methods of policy analysis about drug abuse control and crime control policy, working out the implications of two principles: that swift and certain sanctions don't have to be severe to be effective, and that well-designed threats usually don't have to be carried out. Books: Drugs and Drug Policy: What Everyone Needs to Know (with Jonathan Caulkins and Angela Hawken) When Brute Force Fails: How to Have Less Crime and Less Punishment (Princeton, 2009; named one of the "books of the year" by The Economist Against Excess: Drug Policy for Results (Basic, 1993) Marijuana: Costs of Abuse, Costs of Control (Greenwood, 1989) UCLA Homepage Curriculum Vitae Contact: Markarkleiman-at-gmail.com