Most news coverage of the Iraq Study Group report has been annoyingly reverential. To point out the obvious, the fact that the group is bipartisan does not give it a monopoly on wisdom. Its work must ultimately be judged by the content of its recommendations, not the process by which it was written. (Related question: Do we care what Sandra Day O'Connor thinks about Iraq?)
That's what made Michael R. Gordon's news analysis in the New York Times yesterday so refreshing. Because the ISG is bipartisan, Gordon can't be accused of bias for covering it critically, which freed him from the artificially balanced "he said," "she said" format that makes most American news reporting so useless. Instead, he stated his conclusions bluntly and without qualification.
The lede in Gordon's article states that "The military recommendations issued yesterday by the Iraq Study Group are based more on hope than history and run counter to assessments made by some of its own military advisers." After detailing the problems with the recommendations made in the report, he concludes, "The study contains all the ingredients of a Washington compromise. What is less apparent is a detailed and convincing military strategy that is likely to work in Iraq."
Indeed. Of course, the same could have been said about the Bush administration's plans for Iraq since the insurgency began, but good luck finding a Times article that says as much.