Latest Blue-Ribbon Panel Awaits Its Own Fate





For every impossible problem that official Washington faces, there is a blue-ribbon panel, and for every panel there is a predictable life cycle, which the Iraq Study Group has so far followed to a fault.

First, the unrealistic expectations, fueled by feverish news coverage, including speculation and leaks about just what might be proposed. Next, the report’s grand unveiling, complete with White House photo op, this time featuring President Bush with the co-chairmen, James A. Baker III and Lee H. Hamilton.

And then, inevitably, the letdown.

Remember, for example, the Social Security commission of 2001? Neither do most Americans. The question now is whether a similar demise awaits the report of the Iraq Study Group — impeccably researched, comprehensive, bipartisan and having no legal authority beyond that of friendly advice.

One of its main proposals, the idea of talking to Iran and Syria, was swiftly brushed off by Mr. Bush. Now the administration seems to be leaning toward a temporary increase in American troops, an option the group said it “could support” if requested by commanders but did not endorse.

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