Friday, December 17, 2004

Will Rummy Go Gently into That Good Night?  

Sure looks to us as though Mr. President is aiming to unload Donald Rumsfeld.

Of course he won't do the job himself. Zemblan patriot J.M. reminds us that it was Rummy, along with Dick Cheney, who lobbied new president Gerald Ford to install Bush pere as director of the CIA. It would be difficult for Bush the Younger to slip the shiv into a loyal family retainer (one who, we should add, undoubtedly knows where many a stiff is stashed). The task will have to be managed in a discreet, not to say cowardly, fashion: by convincing Rummy that he's a pariah, that his continued presence is becoming a burden to the President. By making him pull a Frankie Pentangeli.

That seems to be exactly what's happening. Since his infamous Q&A session with the troops in Iraq ("you go to war with the army you have, not the army you want" -- an especially despicable evasion, since Rummy went to war with exactly the army he wanted) he's been pilloried by the likes of John McCain, Norman Schwarzkopf, and the former moral compass of the Republican Party, Trent Lott. And according to Josh Marshall, a reporter at today's White House press gaggle asked the following indiscreet question about an especially scathing hit piece by William Kristol:
QUESTION: Just getting back to the earlier topic about Secretary Rumsfeld. Last night Bill Kristol, of the Weekly Standard, was telling everyone within earshot, the White House really is encouraging him in writing these editorials, and wants the Secretary of Defense --

MR. McCLELLAN: I was within earshot; I didn't hear him say that.
Even if all of Washington turns on him, Rumsfeld's worst enemy will still be his own resume. The number of American troops dead in Iraq has now passed 1300, and a newly disclosed FBI memo may implicate Rummy as the architect of the torture program at Abu Ghraib (Joe Conason: "[T]here is mounting evidence -- including the May 10 FBI e-mail -- that strongly suggests that Rumsfeld and his top intelligence aides were directly responsible for the wholesale abandonment of legal and ethical norms as well as international treaty obligations"), in which case he would be open to charges of perjuring himself before Congress. There are plenty of unassailable reasons to give him the heave-ho, should any be needed. (Let us also not forget that Rummy in July of 2001 changed a policy of twenty years' standing so that only the Secretary of Defense could order the shootdown of a civilian plane. He has never been able to explain where exactly he was and how exactly he managed to avoid learning of the terrorist attacks on the WTC for over an hour on the morning of 9/11.)

Someone clearly wants him gone, though probably not for the reasons we want him gone. And the bad press has clearly gotten to him, because he's finally decided to start signing his own letters. Of course, nobody would ever want to receive one.

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