Just last week, Bush administration officials were saying that they "tentatively expected" the president to announce his new Iraq policy in a speech during the week before Christmas. Put the emphasis on "tentatively." White House press secretary Tony Snow said today that the president won't be announcing his not-staying-the-course strategy until sometime in early 2007.
Why the delay? The president's plan is "not ready yet," Snow says. "It's a complicated business and there are a lot of things to take into account."
When can we -- and, more important, the Iraqi people and the U.S. troops now in their country -- expect the plan to be "ready"? The White House press corps tried for an answer to that question, but Snow didn't have a lot to offer.
Reporter: Do you suspect it will be before the State of the Union?
Snow: I'm loath to suspect. Obviously, this is something that [Bush] places a premium on getting done quickly, but also getting done well. And as I've said before, the job has got to be done right. This is not one where you have an expiration date, and if your homework is complete or not, you turn it in. He wants everybody to complete it.
Reporter: But is there an urgency here? We've talked about this urgency before.
Snow: Well, the urgency -- as I said, there's urgency, but not panic. And I don't want to tell you it's not going to happen before State of the Union. I just don't want to lock in -- I don't want people to have expectations on a specific date because we don't have it for you yet.
Reporter: Is it definitely going to be in January?
Snow: Well, as far as we know. Again, when we have a date for you, we'll let you know.