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It's difficult to know what to believe and not to believe is this game of leaks and kabuki theater. Did the press just get caught up with Hagel and earlier Rice when the President hadn't even decided on either as his first choice? Are these just trial balloons, designed precisely to gauge elite opinion? It was suggested to me by a knowledgable person at the White House, well before she bowed out, that the President simply hadn't decided who he wanted for Secretary of State and that the whole debate was premature.
But at some level, it's the White House's responsibility to make some level of intention clear and not allow these things to take on a life of their own in the media, if that is in fact what is happening.
Otherwise we have what we have now which is the ugly spectacle of honorable public servants dangling alone in the face of concerted, organized smear campaigns with no one to defend them, unable -- in the nature of their non-nomination -- even to defend themselves.
This is not good for the non-nominees and it's not good for the White House.