The Skinny: A Very Leaky Study Group; A Very Media-Friendly Senator...And The Washington Redskins

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The Skinny, Hillary Profita's take on the top of the news and the best of the Web, appears daily here on Public Eye and on the "Evening News" page at CBSNews.com.

Following the New York Times leakage yesterday of the expected (lest we forget non-binding) report from James Baker-Lee Hamilton & Friends (a.k.a the Iraq Study Group) the Washington Post today has its own rundown of the panel's anticipated suggestions.

The paper highlights the group's planned recommendation to cut troops – potentially by half – by 2008. In case you live under a rock somewhere, that happens to also be the same year we'll be electing a new president. "The choice of early 2008 as a goal could also, intentionally or not, change the nature of the debate over the war at the height of the U.S. presidential primary season." Really?

Both papers and the Wall Street Journal's newsbox have an overview of yesterday's meeting between President Bush and Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al Maliki, following Wednesday's snub or no snub kerfuffle.

Graceful Exit From Iraq? Nah.

With that and the leaked recommendations from the Iraq Study Group in the air, Bush told reporters that Maliki is "the right guy for Iraq" and "This business about graceful exit just simply has no realism to it whatsoever." According to the Washington Post, White House aides later modified that statement, cautioning "against interpreting that as opposition to any change in the U.S. troop posture."

Instead, according to an aide: "Some options being discussed by the Iraqi Study Group and his own administration's internal policy review, the official said, are 'things that he's very open to.'" Writes the New York Times: "the idea of a major and rapid withdrawal seems to be fading as a viable option." The paper emphasizes the same in a news analysis, aptly titled, "Idea of Rapid Withdrawal From Iraq Seems to Fade."

The Little-Known John McCain

Now, back to 2008. The election is only two years away, people, it's really time to focus. I'm not sure of you've heard of this guy who maybe, potentially, exploratorily will be running for president in 2008. His name is Sen. John McCain. He occasionally appears on Sunday morning television programs. The New York Times' front page informs us that he showed up at the Republican Governor's Association meeting in Florida and he's not a governor.

And the head of the RGA who leading the conference is Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney "who is widely viewed as Mr. McCain's chief rival for their party's 2008 presidential nomination." Both men "politely deferred questions about 2008." And McCain threw a reception that "lathered governors with platters of shrimp and three open bars."

In other exciting election-related news, (really, it's never to early) the Washington Post's front page reports that "paperless electronic voting machines used throughout the Washington region and much of the country 'cannot be made secure,' according to draft recommendations issued this week by a federal agency that advises the U.S. Election Assistance Commission."

By the way, that assessment is the "most sweeping condemnation of such voting systems by a federal agency." The problem is that most of these voting machines leave no paper trail – so officials can't recount ballots themselves and voters can't review their own summaries on paper, which critics say contributes to the potential for error and diminished voter confidence. Now, get out there and make your voice heard, kids! Every vote counts!

On The Web: Yes, Virginia, The Washington Redskins Do Have Something In Common With U.S. Foreign Policy

I am not a sports gal. My knowledge of sports is restricted to those periods of time when it becomes a necessary element of my interpersonal relationships or intersects with my job, and those times are not greeted with glee. One of those times, unfortunately, was during the 2004 election.

I'm referring, of course, to the legend (which I guess ends up in headlines every four years) that the outcome of the Redskins' final home game before Election Day predicts the outcome of the presidential election.

If the Redskins win, the incumbent party wins; if they lose, the incumbent loses. At least that's how history had panned out for 67 years, until 2004's election, when the Redskins lost and the incumbent won, and the world came to a screeching halt.

Fear not. The Redskins analogies don't have to stop just because one so-called legend has been proved a myth.

An intelligent little spright at The Globalist (his name is
Nathan Richter and he is identified as a high school student who is "very interested in history and its social dimensions,") has drawn some more information about the intersection of the Redskins and American politics. It is titled "The Washington Redskins and U.S. Foreign Policy" and it's about as engaging as anything else you'll read today (which I mean as a compliment and as a person generally uninterested in sports,) so you ought to have a look.

One example of the similarities: Redskins' coach Joe Gibbs and President Bush are "united in their reluctance to make personnel changes," writes Richter. "It was only after Democrats took control of both the Senate and House in the November 2006 midterm elections that Bush removed Rumsfeld. For Gibbs, it took a 27-3 thumping by the Philadelphia Eagles to send Redskins quarterback Mark Brunell to the bench — even though the move had been eagerly anticipated in Washington for a while."
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