The White House on Iraq: Anyone have any ideas?

The national security advisor says the president is open to suggestions.

Published October 27, 2006 12:45PM (EDT)

We thought the president's press conference performance this week was notable for its grim assessment of how things are going in Iraq and its lack of clarity about any way forward.

It turns out that we weren't alone.

In an appearance on the NewsHour last night, National Security Advisor Stephen Hadley was asked what the American people should have "taken away" from the press conference. His answer: "I think the president gave a very balanced and sober assessment of the situation that we're in, made it clear that there are real challenges, made it clear that, while our basic objective remains the same, we have adapted and made changes in how to pursue that objectives, would be making more changes in the future, that he was open to any constructive ideas, because obviously one thing we can all agree on  I think Senator Biden would agree  we need to succeed in Iraq. It's too important for the country. So I think you saw an openness to be receptive to ideas, but also a steadfastness that we cannot afford to lose in Iraq."

Got that? On the war in Iraq -- the centerpiece of his administration, the central front in "the decisive ideological struggle of the 21st century" -- the president is . . . well, he's open to ideas, if anyone's got them.

We're not sure what's more troubling here: That this is all that the president has to offer, that the national security advisor can't do a better job of spinning it, or that the White House Communications Office thought so much of Hadley's comments that it just e-mailed them to reporters under the headline, "In Case You Missed It."

By Tim Grieve

Tim Grieve is a senior writer and the author of Salon's War Room blog.

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