I had the sense watching Saturday Night Live last weekend that their opening bit — a parody of Defense Secretary Rumsfeld’s now infamous “you go to war with the Army you have” response to complaints by a soldier in Iraq about shortages of armor — was an indication that a fundamental line had been crossed: that Rumsfeld had gone from being perceived as perhaps overly glib but calm and in control, to being perceived as cavalier, callous and unwilling to accept responsibility.
I thought then tht Rumsefeld’s days are numbered and nothing that has happened in the subsequent week has led me to think any differently:
- Former Senate majority leader Trent Lott (R-Miss.) joined a growing chorus of Republicans sharply criticizing Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld because of the Pentagon chief’s failure to call for more troops in Iraq and to properly equip troops serving there.
Speaking to a local chamber of commerce Wednesday in Mississippi, Lott said: “I am not a fan of Secretary Rumsfeld. I don’t think he listens to his uniformed officers.” Lott said Rumsfeld should not be forced to resign immediately but “I would like to see a change in that slot in the next year or so.”
In recent days, two conservative GOP senators, John McCain (Ariz.) and Chuck Hagel (Neb.), raised public concerns about Rumsfeld’s management of the war. William Kristol, a former Republican White House aide and a leading conservative commentator, and Gen. H. Norman Schwarzkopf, senior commander during the 1991 Persian Gulf War, also have offered harsh indictments. Sen. Susan Collins (R-Maine), a prominent moderate, criticized the Pentagon yesterday for providing inadequate armor protection for troops in Iraq.
….Echoing the views of McCain, Hagel and other Republicans, Lott said the United States needs more troops to stabilize Iraq and someone else to lead the country to victory after the January elections in Iraq. Thomas Donnelly, a resident fellow at the AEI, attacked Rumsfeld on a different topic yesterday: the secretary’s preoccupation with transforming the military.
“In agreeing to stay on as defense secretary in the second Bush term, Rumsfeld has made it known that he wants to ‘complete the job of transformation’ he has started,” Donnelly wrote in an article for the Weekly Standard, a conservative publication. “It would be far better if he would dedicate himself to winning the war he helped to start.”
….Former and current White House officials, all of whom demanded anonymity to speak, said Bush is intent on showing no signs of second-guessing his Iraq policy and war cabinet, especially with the Iraq election so close and the number of U.S. troops being deployed rising. This, they say, was evidenced by Bush’s decision to award Medals of Freedom this week to three of the key architects of the Iraq policy: former CIA director George Tenet; L. Paul Bremer, Bush’s former point man in Iraq; and retired Gen. Tommy R. Franks, who commanded U.S troops in Iraq before stepping down.
The president is aware of frustration with Rumsfeld, especially among Republicans on Capitol Hill, but believes the defense secretary is getting unfairly blamed for decisions made by the entire war cabinet and endorsed by most Republicans, some officials say. [Washington Post]
I think Rummie will be gone after the Iraqi election and the Bush inauguration as part of a “fresh start” in Iraq.