Waiting for Baker became the Washington game everyone wanted to play.
It allowed both parties to hit the pause button as they anticipated a report from the Iraq Study Group, led by former Secretary of State James Baker and former Democratic Representative Lee Hamilton. The report would give them all cover -- Republicans reluctant to jolt their president into action and Democrats afraid to risk any proposal that would leave an opening for Karl Rove to accuse them of cutting and running.
President George W. Bush didn't like playing the game, which only added to the sense that the panel could be important. Bush had nervously referred to the former secretary as ``Jimmy'' when he didn't forget him altogether and, before the report, labeled it as just one of many he would look at. Bush fought back as parts of the report leaked. He stepped up his insistence that there would be no early exit from Iraq, whether gradual or graceful, until the ``mission is complete.''
Bush could have saved his breath. The report actually extends the waiting game in his favor since there's no timetable for its recommendations, unlike commissions that propose legislation to Congress. There's a reason Bush was able to say upon receiving the report on Wednesday, ``We will take every proposal seriously.'' He can just continue on as if nothing had happened.
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