Friday, December 22, 2006


On CNN yesterday:

WHITFIELD: Let's begin with Secretary Gates. He says that he won't be shaped by politics. Is that possible when already the president is saying one thing, the generals are saying another.

GERGEN: That's -- isn't that the question of the hour. Thank you for asking that. The president has contended all along in this war that politics would not drive decisions, that his decisions on how many troops and how to deploy them in Iraq would depend upon the commanders on the ground, upon the top military officials and the government. Now he has staked out a position, at least his aides are staking out a position in favor of a strong surge of American troops into Baghdad. A decision with which the joint chiefs and the commanders on the ground disagree. So here we have not just the commander in chief but the politician in chief and the president who has to ask himself the question, does he want to override the wishes of his own generals? That's a big, tough call.


GERGEN: I agree with that. And, you know, the process has become extremely messy from his point of view. The White House's point of view. When you're in the White House, you want to convince people you have things sort of under control. You have a thoughtful, logical, coherent process of making decisions. That people sort of reach a consensus and then you go. And here we've got a process that started 15 days ago when the Baker Hamilton Commission report came out. This had gotten extremely messy, lots of leaks, lots of disagreement within the administration. I think it makes it much, much tougher for the president to go forward in January with people having confidence that what he's saying represents a consensus. If there's so much disagreement right now, this is going to be very, very difficult to bring coherence within his own government before he goes to the public.