White House Fumbles On 16-Word Crisis

"If President Bush's White House is known for anything, it is competence at delivering a disciplined message and deftness in dealing with bad news," Washington Post's Dan Balz and Walter Pincus write. "That reputation has been badly damaged by the administration's clumsy efforts to explain how a statement based on disputed intelligence ended up in the president's State of the Union address." The shifting White House story about it's references to Iraq, Niger and uranium continues to draw attention to the Bush administration deception. "White House allies outside the government have expressed surprise at the administration's repeated missteps over the past two weeks.... Said one senior administration official, 'These stories get legs when they're mishandled and this story has been badly mishandled.' Joe Lockhart, who was press secretary to President Bill Clinton, said he has been equally surprised by the way this White House has dealt with the controversy. 'Their every move has resulted in people being more interested in the story rather than less interested,' he said," the Post reports.