The only option Bush had, was the one he chose last night.
In a way, I think Rove, Card, and Hughes all got a little too cute last night.
They played the best card they could, and it fell flat.
Or did it?
* Any new initiative would have raised questions about changing focus distracting from Iraq.
* News about Negroponte could raise Iran/Contra questions that Bush couldn't handle
* Military initiatives would have emphasized the escalating problems in Iraq.
By not making waves, by only picking those reporters who will toss him the obvious softball (his "must calls") questions, he avoids drawing attention to the major issues.
The administration hates these briefings and anything that forces Bush to be on his toes and respond to policy questions.
This way they handled the briefing, they responded to calls for a public Q&A, and, perhaps more important, *no major policy questions end up on Wednesday's front pages*.
Wednesday turns into, "how did he do?", instead of focusing on the policy failures. Most people won't pick on his demeanor and delivery, that will fall to us wonks.
I think he got too cute because it can backfire. There is growing anger among military families and the military itself. There are growing questions on the economy. Neither were really dealt with last night.
Bush keeps his head off the block while his reps will spin his performance for the next day or two until it slides off the front page.
Last night was a political holding maneuver. I don't think this is a cynical viewpoint, but between his dodging of questions and lack of any new ideas or plans, he was able to do something and nothing at the same time.
3 hours ago