Washington is crawling with commissions these days. They\'ve been put together both for legitimate and not so valid reasons. They come in various sizes and configurations, and often end up resembling an orchestrated production instead of a serious investigative procedure. The players can consistently claim impressive credentials and, in some cases, become interchangeable in the membership shuffle -- making repeat appearances on a multitude of \"blue-ribbon\" panels. The conclusions of these various assemblages range from slightly vague to profitably functional. At the end of the process, however, the results (whether speculative or specific) usually don\'t matter much because the real world has moved on while the committees discuss, debate, dissect and decide upon the different aspects of their assignments.

Committees and commissions exist so politicians can delay or avert decisions, shift blame, avoid recrimination, or change the subject of an uncomfortable national discussion. They\'re ostensibly established to scrutinize the controversial topic du jour. On occasion, unfortunately, their eminent membership deteriorates into a clump of bickering partisans and their focus gets lost in the factional fencing. And too frequently, commissions serve as a \"passing the buck\" enterprise.

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