« But What Would The Democrats Do? | Main | OMG!!! Teen Sex Cults!!! »

May 08, 2006


Hilzoy- I usually don't say so here since I don't want to make the kitten angry, but this is why I think being a Republican means you are a traitor, a criminal, and an all around scumbag.

I think if you want your post to be constructive you need to at least advance some ideas as to how someone could take the Republican party from these power brokers. Obviously you are in a much better position to understand the strenghts and weaknesses of the ruling class than most of us. I would have to say it seems impossible to me, sure they could go out and build grass roots organizations, but that can't help. They need to be able to come up with 10s of millions of dollars every time elections roll around to reduce these people's influnce, don't they?

Oddly enough, "He can win" was the same, the very same, rationale the Democratic Party Establishment gave for helping to sabotage Dean's candidacy in favor of Kerry's.

The differences being, of course, that: 1) Kerry didn't, in fact, win; and 2) Kerry, with all his manifest flaws, is still in all ways more qualified to be President than Bush.

I don't go for psychological analysis, and I'm not sure if I agree with your reason for why Bush can't salvage his Presidency. Look, at this point Bush just needs to be able to try different approaches to issues, and that's where the problem lies. He doesn't need to apologize or explain, he just needs to implement new policies, but these guys seem so locked into their political framework and slogans that they can't even conceive of doing things differently. It's not stubbornness, they just don't agree with the existence of anything that shows one of their policies isn't working.

I think they've figured out that any move to the middle will alienate his base, and anything to appease the base will alienate the middle. That's a problem at ~35% approval, you can't afford to lose either. Bush made Iraq the centerpiece of his presidency, and now that most people think it was a mistake, there's nowhere for him to go.

BTW, just because Bush can't salvage his Presidency doesn't mean that events can't.

And the answer has always been the same: They thought he would win, and that's what mattered to them.

And that's what scares me. Not to purposefully invoke Godwin's Law or any Bush - Hitler comparisons, but its that line of thinking that gave Germany the twelve-year Reich.

Frank: while the kitten understands that you are merely reporting your thoughts, it will be forced to be annoyed if it happens again. The kitten points out that some Republicans are genuinely worried by what they imagine liberals to be, or believe, or something, and are not traitors, criminals, or scumbags at all.

The most plausible case you could make, I think, is that being a Republican might have the same effect. While the kitten does not wish to debate that with you, she notes that this is the same way of thinking that led Stalinists to call people "objectively pro-fascist", and that she didn't like the business of ignoring people's actual motives that time either.

(The kitten is not comparing you to Stalin; just one possible line of argument to one bit of his. And of course his arguments were not, by miles, the worst of him.)


The kitten meant to include the clause 'which you did not actually make' after 'one possible line of argument', in the last para.

"But surely some of the alleged grownups in the Republican Party must have. So why didn't they block his nomination?"

I ask myself that all the time. But the answer you come up with I don't agree with. It isn't as if Bush were some super-charismatic candidate. Furthermore, McCain could almost certainly have beaten Gore. Lamar Alexander very probably could have beaten Gore--I understand the Democratic leaders at the time were very worried about him. Hell, I'm not totally convinced that Elizabeth Dole couldn't have beaten Gore. All three are certainly more charismatic.

My ugly suspicion is that they backed Bush because they thought he was good enough for the public, but weak. They thought they could influence (or 'control') him. They seem to have found otherwise.

I remember a conversation I had with my father before the 2000 elections. He was offended by the "lecturing style" of Gore and believed that the team behind Bush II would be essentially the same that was behind Bush I. Although he disagreed with Bush I on some counts, he believed Bush I to be an honorable man and competent. It was the perceived Bush I team that he voted for in 2000.

He voted Libertarian in 2004.

They thought they could influence (or 'control') him.

The Republican elites should have read a little Oedipus, methinks.

Or Frankenstein....you know how the good doctor died.

They thought they could influence (or 'control') him. They seem to have found otherwise.

I don't see it. A more pragmatic individual like McCain, Alexander, or even Reagan himself wouldn't still be clamoring for tax cuts, wouldn't be throwing money down the Iraq money hole this far in, and would be 'encouraging' Big Energy to either open more refineries. But not Bush. For all his problems, he's been a very nice ROI for certain moneyed interests.

I suspect SH has it right with regards to 2000. 2004 is a little harder to make sense of, however, and I don't believe that "Kerry was uninspiring" explains it.

Doug H: And that's what scares me. Not to purposefully invoke Godwin's Law or any Bush - Hitler comparisons, but its that line of thinking that gave Germany the twelve-year Reich.

Sebastian: My ugly suspicion is that they backed Bush because they thought he was good enough for the public, but weak. They thought they could influence (or 'control') him. They seem to have found otherwise.

It's nice to know I'm not the only one thinking of von Papen.

Sebastian: My ugly suspicion is that they backed Bush because they thought he was good enough for the public, but weak. They thought they could influence (or 'control') him. They seem to have found otherwise.

More to the point, I think that the big backers assumed they were dealing with Bush only - rather than (as now seems evident) with Rumsfeld, Cheney, Gonzales, Rove, &c. Bush himself may have been picked to be the pretty public face, and, as we know, the 2000 elections were rigged so that it didn't matter that Bush didn't actually win. But Bush isn't the one in charge, and the ones in charge are not subject to anything constitutional like term limits. Without honest elections, the same people can still be in charge from 2008 onwards, and doubtless will be.

Hilzoy- I usually don't say so here since I don't want to make the kitten angry, but this is why I think being a Republican means you are a traitor, a criminal, and an all around scumbag.

In the race between the least of all evils, do you really think that Kerry was that much of an improvement? (Speaking as "a traitor, a criminal, and an all around scumbag" -- albeit one who voted for Kerry.)

Well, I know from internal democratic debates that it's never presented as "winning v. the good of the country"; it's always: "the good of the country requires someone of our party to win, and the one with the best shot is X." And supporting Y, who might be a better president but is completely unelectable, is argued to be self-indulgent & putting one's feelings above the common good.

(Being Democrats we are, of course, always hilariously wrong about who X actually is.)

I don't think that's quite it with Bush, though, because like Sebastian says--I think McCain could've won the popular vote without so much trouble, and Bush didn't. I think it started out with him being perceived as electable, and then he got enough backing from the GOP big-shots that it took on a life of its own: he won the primaries because he looked like a winner. He got powerful backing because he had powerful backing.

God knows this is how the press covers politics--it's considered unobjective, not to mention horribly gauche, to actually care about the substantive issues, so instead you get this situation where you get favorable coverage by being perceived as a winner and unfavorable coverage by being perceived as a loser. Think of the way ABCNEWS "the Note" is written. It's all very high school & it drives me completely bonkers.

2004: Nothing I've ever seen convinces me that Dean would have gotten anywhere close to where Kerry got, and, after all, it was pretty close.

2000: It's not clear to me that 'they' are having trouble controlling Bush. But I don't think 'control' is what they wanted -- what they wanted, and what they got, was a guy who would stick to their agenda come hell or high water. And they got it, apparently literally. It also turns out that the Republican agenda isn't all that popular. Hence the main theme of the 2006 Republican effort is going to me 'vote for us, or Ted Kennedy will get you.' It might even work.

I found myself in a radio studio in Montana the day after the 1994 elections, and proved myself utterly incompetent to predict what would happen in politics. I said I thought the Republican ascendency would be short-lived, because they would quickly enact their economic agenda -- tax and budget cuts, getting rid of two or three departments -- and then have nothing left but their divisive social agenda. I also thought the people giving term limit pledges were going to have to honor them.

I've not made the error of being insufficiently cynical about Republican campaign promises since then.

Kerry, personally, would have been a big upgrade. As for the overall performance of his administration, it really depends on the team he would have picked. But the bar has been set extremely low.

"do you really think that Kerry was that much of an improvement"

this is a joke, right?

A particularly bitter, inept joke? A joke in bad taste, a joke that misfires?

With the corpses piling up in Baghdad, the corpses still not recovered in New Orleans, the trashing of our economy, the stench of Republican corruption on K Street, the 750 "signing statements", and every other crime of this criminal band still fresh in our minds?

And someone suggests that Kerry might not have been an improvement over the worst president ever?

Work on your material, okay? Some things just hurt too much to laugh.

Geez, I really don't think it's all that complicated. What are the GOP big shots in the main? Corporate executives and stockholders. They backed one of their own. As with CEOs, sharing their values is much more important than actual competency. Bush had name recognition and could be counted on to do right by the corporations when he won. McCain never had a chance in 2000.

The GOP big shots are probably very happy with Bush's performance to date, as far as their bottom line. Their only mistake was forgetting that Cheney did not start out as an executive; that came much later for him. He had other thought patterns engraved by then.

To complicate my 'winning' further: I think that while, as I said, wanting a tractable candidate does not narrow the field down to Bush, it does preclude McCain (especially then, before his embrace of Falwell.) He has always had a real independent streak, and I suspect would have made some people nervous.

What I wonder about, though, is the thinking that led people to get behind Bush before it had narrowed down to Bush v. McCain -- back when most people were not paying attention.

von: Kerry would have been an immense improvement -- and I say this as someone who was not a big fan. Kerry is one of the rather large group of people who know a lot about policy, take their responsibilities seriously, and are not in some way psychologically incapable of doing the job well. He would have tried to do it right, and unlike Bush he would have thought that there was some real question about what that involved, a question that required some effort and humility on his part.

To expand on what Tim said above.

We have to differentiate between Republicans and thos currently in power in the Republican PArty.

And remember, those in power have worked for decades to get there.

I do think McCain would have won in 2000, although I think Gore would have been the better President, btu after New Hampshire, he was in the gun sights of the power cabal.

They literally could not have him be President because there is till some decency in the man.

The smear techniques used in South Carolina effectively neutralized him. And that basically left Bush, who was the most electable, specially with the media, the courts and the big money in support of him.

The only way for Republicans, like most of those who contribute here, to win back control of their party, and bring back to the highest levels of the party a basic sense of integrity, is to make sure that the republicans fail in the 2006 elections.

Whether this be by voting for the Democrats or avoiding the polling booth, it is important that the current group who control the party be seen as failures.

When Bush won in 2000, I told my younger son, who was quite upset by his victory, that the country could survive 4 years of Bush. Eight years is a different matter and if the party leaders countinue to be his personal lap dogs, I really fear for the near and long term future of this country.

Sebastian writes: " They seem to have found otherwise."

Ah, but they got their tax cuts and their war in Iraq. Their useful idiot came through on those action items.

"Shouldn't it have been obvious to them that this man is not up to the job?

Hilzoy, not to be snarky, or anything: but isn't it obvious now, and should have been obvious from the beginning, that the Republican PTB knew/know, and just didn't/don't care???

It's a truism that today's Republican Party is far more organized, disciplined, "on-message" and PR-savvy that at other times in its history (and of course, WAY ahead of the Democrats on all counts) - and it has been (at least to me), pretty obvious since 200 that the country was not just getting a new Administration, but an entire "regime"; a well-coordinated machine in which the Executive, Legislative and (theoretically) Judicial Branches would all govern in lockstep to enact a comprehensive Republican agenda. The President, in this scenario, was more of the traditional, partisan "Prime Minister"-type leader than the strong personality-driven Leader, and barring the 9/11/01 attack, would probably have been around for only single mediocrely successful term.

But the shock of 9/11 galvanized the regime (which was quick to exploit the attacks for maximum political gain) into quickly adopting the semiotics of "wartime" leadership: which entailed making George W. Bush into the tough, steely-eyed Fearless Leader - a role which he was not intellectually equipped to play, by any means. But to the party PTB, this seems to have been unimportant, since, imho, they seem to have assumed that clever PR would always be able to hide the truth.

An approach, which, disgracefully, has worked pretty well up til now.

I've been reading The Assasins' gate.

Too depressing for words. And the incompetence continues. Troops are being pulled from Afganistan in areas where the Talaban is on the rise and , in Iraq, troops are being pulled back to the bases to sit and watch while unprepared Iraqis troops go out to try to bring security. This in the period of highest civilian deaths since the invasion.
The thought of two more years of these guys in charge of our security and foreign policy.....how can they possibliy be trusted to deal with Iran?

I don't think the power brokers who engineered Bush's candidacy realized how incompetent all of his advisers would be. Also I think that there is a endemic arrogance that makes the people at the top of the Republican party assume that they can get away with anything. It's part of that Social Darwinist ethic. Wolfowitz, for example, said that Americans don't think, only react emotionally to visual images. So the thought was: control the spin and do whatever you want. Bread and circuses, except, from Republicans, us plebes don't get the bread.

"Kerry, personally, would have been a big upgrade."

Anything would be a big upgrade. If the RNC said to me today: "Give us your car and 20%* of your retirement savings and we'll put the re-animated corpse of Ronald Reagan in power", I'd happily skip with pleasure to RNC headquarters to sign my stuff over. And I was no fan of Reagan when he was president. Heck, even Dan Quayle looks like a better substitute.

Zombie Gipper - you know it makes sense.

(Hey, any more and I'd be eating cat food in retirement.)

What I wonder about, though, is the thinking that led people to get behind Bush before it had narrowed down to Bush v. McCain -- back when most people were not paying attention.

Hilzoy, they told you the answer right after the 2000 election. They called themselves the "MBA administration". And they were telling the truth. It's a club. Left to themselves anybody not a part of the club would never even occur to the big backers, let alone be considered.

Also I think it is a mistake to focus on Bush. A different Republican President would have been just as dependent on special interests and religious fanatics and would have pursued policies that were just as destructive to the common good. The K Street project, for example, has been in effect for years, as has the successfull effort of grassroots religious extremists to take over the state parties. It will take more than just losing in 06 to cleanse the party of the combination of white collar criminals, robber barons and religious extremists. Republicans will need to lose in 08 too, to be sufficiently motivated.
Of course they face a huge problem: it is not the Democrats who lack ideas. It's the Republicans. They have never (in the last century anyway) had any ideas beyond serving special interests and manipulating the public. This incarnation of the party is only unique in it's ruthlessnes, not in its goals. Boot the robber barons and special interests and fearmongers out of the leadership and there is no one left.

He did all the things his father did. The only difference was that he did them all badly.

Ah, but on the most important things, W believes he is far more successful than his father. Did Daddy cut taxes? No. Did Daddy take down Saddam? No. Did Daddy get re-elected? No.

Ahh, politics in America. Let us look at the frontrunners for 2008:McCain & Clinton. Does anyone here think these two will pursue, or successfully pursue, policies drastically different than Bushco? I don't. We will not significantly withdraw from the ME, we will not have a huge tax increase, we will not have massive entitlement reform, we will not have a Manhattan project in energy.

We will likely have incremental moves on the above and a slightly more competent less ideological bureaucracy. Moderate-right judges, not moderate-left, Republicans won't allow it.

Until the Democratic base get as maddog vicious and effective as Wall Street, the NRA, and the anti-abortion crowd, the center--right controls America. They usually have.

More grist for the mill in what is an interesting discussion, an interesting Daily Kos diary which jibes with the view that Bush's backers were more ceoncerned about their interests than the country's.

I don't know that Clinton is the front-runner. The press has anointed her, but that's because they are lazy. I certainly don't want her.
Another difference between any Democrat and any Republican: the Democrat will fill the government with competent, responisble professionals and the Republican will fill the government with partisan hacks, cronies, and fanatics.

Ahh, politics in America. Let us look at the frontrunners for 2008:McCain & Clinton. Does anyone here think these two will pursue, or successfully pursue, policies drastically different than Bushco? I don't.

I do. Please let's not encourage Naderite "no difference so what does it matter" thinking.

Hilzoy- I consider myself chastized.

Von- I didn't aim that comment at you. I exempt anyone who voted against Bush in 2004. As far as Kerry being better, everyone else has chimed in with better arguments than I could make, but I have one anyway. Kerry was qualified to be President, though I doubt he is as interested in saving the middle classes as I would like. Willy Brown or for that matter Willy Horton would be a huge improvement, not just over Bush but over any possible Republican President. Democrats aren't organized as to steal as well as Republicans, so the most corrupt and incompetent Democrat possible will always be better for the country than any Republican ever will be. Democrats just can't get away with much, as demonstrated by you guys during the Clinton administration.

I don't claim that Dean was more electable than Kerry by the way. I thought Edwards and Clark probably were, and mainly I thought:

1) as far as the original reason Dean was supposedly thought to be unelectable, it turns out it would've been an asset (the pissy-shoot-your-mouth-off-thing not so much),


2) we suck at predicting electability & I won't vote on those grounds.

I don't think the Democrats are going to take either house this November. But I don't know if I really believe that, or I'm just telling myself I believe that but actually secretly think we will (like a Red Sox or Mets fan.)

Please please please, just a majority in the House, that's all I ask.

They were responsible for the fact that by the time most of the country started paying attention to candidates for President, Bush had such a huge financial advantage over his competitors that he could afford to disregard the campaign finance limits. So my question has always been: what on earth were they thinking?


Unlike McCain, who has shown pings of integrity in the past, Dubya was the ideal K Street candidate.

"Please let's not encourage Naderite "no difference so what does it matter" thinking."
...B Yomtov

"It's a tired tactic of theirs. The GOP cannot survive politically if oil prices and scandals define headlines. This is a party that subsists and succeeds only in the presence of fear. Hayden's nomination is meant to bring that fear into the headlines once again.

And how quickly the tactic worked! As Glenn Greenwald points out, Dianne Feinstein took the bait with the ferocious appetite of a 7.5 pound perch, praising Hayden and already coming out in support of his confirmation (come on Dianne, you couldn't at least wait to backstab your party until after the hearings?)

And Rep. Jane Harman, the ranking Democrat on the House Intelligence Committee, basically says the NSA program is off-limits during Hayden's hearing."

Bush Nominates Hayden ...georgia10 at Dkos

Domestic surveillance of political opponents is "off-limits" according to the people who are supposed to be on my side. Which is only the Constitution's side. I will vote Democratic, but I will also take a lot of showers.

What do you make of Clemons's suggestion that Hayden's nomination could consolidate intelligence against Rumsfeld? I'm no fan of Negroponte, but the idea of the military taking over most intelligence functions makes me very nervous. Despite what some Republicans are saying, the fact that Hayden is an officer doesn't seem quite as important to me as whom he reports to.

I'm all for using the hearings to air as much information about the wiretapping program as possible, but I'm really not convinced that Hayden's nomination to the DCI should be shot down because of his role in implementing policy here. Almost anyone inside the ranks--ie, anyone likely to be trusted by the career CIA who after 18 months of Goss are surely paranoid--will be compromised by now in some manner. The list of people who are qualified for the job is surely very slim, and I do believe that the stakes are high.

I'm willing to trust Feinstein and Harman, for now.

Yglesias on Hayden

"My hope would be, however, that Democrats don't see this as an excuse for ducking the more obvious question of Hayden's involvement in the NSA's illegal domestic surveillance initiative. I appreciate that lots of people in the party think the politics of this issue are dubious, but Bush has made it clear that he's picked Hayden specifically because of this issue, and sometimes you've just got to take a stand. Confirming Hayden would be a congressional ratification of the whole domestic spying business, and that's just unacceptable. More broadly, the habit of trying to duck national security fights is, itself, politically damaging and Democrats may as well start practicing hashing this out now rather than waiting for October." ...MY

Thanks a lot, Dianne.
"What do you make of Clemons's suggestion that Hayden's nomination could consolidate intelligence against Rumsfeld?"

Well, the opinion of someone who is barely fit to be allowed out in public, is that the "cabal" Bush/Cheney/Rove/Negroponte no longer have faith in or completely trust Rumsfeld. Rumsfeld is not "family" and not sworn to omerta or falling on his sword.

As opposed all of those who have been calling for his resignation, I have always considered Rumsfeld the most competent and honest of the bunch, including having the loyalty of taking the fall for the President, and absorbing much criticism for decisions taken over his head. By the decider.

But if, as rumoured, they are about to nuke Iran, despite the resignations say of all the joint chiefs, Rummy may have decided that is a insanity too far. He is resisting, and not resigning because he hopes to still stop it.

Hayden will coordinate CIA, DoD, and NSA domestic pacification. Like 2004, they are not going to lose Congress. No matter what, there must be a facade of legality and legitinacy.

What I make of Clemons' suggestion is that you'll have a pretty good batting average if you always trust Clemons on these things.

I disagree profoundly with you about Rumsfeld, Cheney's former mentor, although I'm not sure it's worth arguing. Rumsfeld, whatever his personal flaws, has a very specific idea of how intel and military should interact; from what I've read, he prefers intelligence-tending-towards-targeted-hits; counter-insurgency tactics have had to be forced upon him. Rumsdfeld's visions have translated into bureaucratic realities, since he's such a forceful personality and has been so enabled by the White House.

A lot of the incoherence of the tactics derive from the incoherence of the policy. Rumsfeld's tactics would make sense if we were assassinating terrorists or, well, heads of states we wanted to topple. Confusion ensues once people think about what happens next.

Maybe that's not the business of DoD, but DoD shouldn't try to hamstring other agencies' attempts at planning for aftermaths that Rumsfeld decided, on principle, not to acknowledge.

I don't know what to think about Hayden's nomination, other than: of course they should question him about the NSA scandal. Various people I tend to trust (like Clemons) are saying he's not close to Rumsfeld, and might help work against him. That's good: I am extremely dubious about the idea of putting intelligence in DoD in principle, and doubly against it when it's Rumsfeld's DoD.

On the other hand, there's something missing from 'help work against him'. The complete phrase is: help Negroponte work against him. Not being a particular fan of Negroponte, I don't much like that either. On the other hand, at least having CIA under him is the right structural solution, I think, and waiting for a good person to occupy a given position, in this administration, seems to me like a forlorn hope.

Then again again, the very idea of nominating someone who ran the NSA domestic spying program makes me furious. But then again again again, something decent needs to happen to the CIA: we can't really afford to have this state of war continue, and since I despair of getting someone decent on civil liberties out of this administration, maybe someone who will at least work to preserve intelligence from DoD is all I can reasonably hope for.

The one clear lesson of this is: we need a new President, since everything stems from the fact that I'm trying to make up my mind about the lesser collection of a large number of essentially incomparable evils. I'd much rather be able to take basic competence and a willingness to work within the law for granted, and debate which of the people who met those criteria would be best.

And Bob: I agree with Jackmormon, and disagree with you. I'm not saying this to minimize Bush's role in all this: the buck really does stop with him, and even if his role in the way the war in Iraq was prosecuted (as opposed to the decision to go to war) was just: not asking such questions as, do we have a plan for the occupation?, that's still appalling, according to me. Asking those questions is what a chief executive does.

That said, having recently finished Cobra II, and previously read a bunch of other books on Iraq and Afghanistan, I think Rumsfeld had a lot to do with how badly they all went. A lot. He explicitly tried to implement his ideas about how to fight wars, which directly led to a lot of the problems in both countries; he also seems to be a truly formidable bureaucratic warrior, and to have used that to surgically excise anyone he didn't like from all decisions. -- I read somewhere, and can't remember where, that the NSC staff was reduced to walking over on foot to sneak various bits of information and intel away from DoD; this was the only way they could get them (e.g., w/o a paper/email trail), since Rumsfeld had blocked all the others, and made it known that he would Not Smile on anyone who shared info with the NSC. That's completely screwed up, and any organization in which stuff like that is allowed to happen will end up having serious problems. imho, at least.

"What I make of Clemons' suggestion is that you'll have a pretty good batting average if you always trust Clemons on these things."

I wouldn't completely disagree, and while appreciating Yglesias would not consider him an expert like Clemons. I have had strong differences with Clemons, mostly on his attachment to attempts at bipartisan foreign policy in these partisan times.

But in reading the comments, and there are some good and informative comments in the Clemons thread, it appears Larry Johnson strongly opposes Hayden, and I am on record as trusting LJ beyond reason. I need to confirm that. I also heard that Cheney likes Hayden, and that is simply sufficient in itself.

And that Bill Clinton worked with both Hayden and Negroponte is not a huge endorsement. The office of the President is corrupting, beyond what corruption exist in the candidate prior to election. Secrets and covert power are seductive as the devil.

"...that the NSC staff was reduced to walking over on foot to sneak various bits of information and intel away from DoD;"

hilzoy, I have not read the books. I trust the insider stuff less than you do. But my instant reaction to that story is that "NSC staff" at that time means Condi Rice, and Cheney, working with Rumsfeld, was at that time trying to control and bypass the NSC, to the point of trying to head meetings and move Condi to a sidechair. Cheney was creating his own NSC in the VP's office.

Cheney has always been connected to Dod, and an awful lot of the "civilian DoD" were Cheney people. Now Condi has been moved over to State, and a Cheney man is being moved into DIC. Looks to me like the real battle is between Cheney and Rumsfeld.

Who does Negroponte work for? Would Cheney really allow someone disloyal to Cheney to have the President's ear every day?

"He explicitly tried to implement his ideas about how to fight wars"

I am just guessing, but so can you. If Rumsfeld in the spring of 2002 had gone to Bush/Cheney?Rove and said in order to fight a war in Iraq and win both the war and occupation, we need 500,000 more troops. Mr President, you need to call for a draft and get Congress to authorize a half-trillion a year in new Defense spending for supply and training. I understand that means reversing the tax cuts.

I am putting my job on the line.

We would have had a different guy at defense that day.

Did you ever think that "Rumsfeld's theories" were out of necessity, not choice?

Whither the Cia

Here is Larry Johnson's piece, from Truthout.org

Too Close by One Juliette Kayyem at TPMCafe

The Cossacks Work for the Czar

Brad DeLong discusses Iraq with David Frum.

"One important strand of advocacy on the right today is to defend George W. Bush by saying that everything that has gone wrong is the fault of Donald Rumsfeld, who reported to George W. Bush--pretending that the cossack (Rumsfeld) doesn't work for the Czar (Bush). Now comes David Frum, defending Donald Rumsfeld against the charge that it is all his fault. How? By saying that it is in large part the fault of... Tommy Franks, who reported to Rumsfeld. The cossacks work for the Czar, David!"

David Frum uses "Cobra II" as evidence against Franks in an article excerpted by DeLong.

As I said above, I think the Bush share of the blame is more direct. To blame Rumsfeld or Franks you have to assume a world where certain things were possible, and they failed to do them. Bush, as President, created an environment where many things were not possible, and were dangerous to even suggest. If you are Franks or Rumsfeld, you tell Bush only good news, only what he wants to hear. The limits, the ranges of possible policy, were not created by indifference or inattention at the top, but by limits created at the top.

It is amazing to me, after yo my many years, how easily Republican Presidents have evaded direct responsibility ot involvement. If not for the tapes, we would be sayng yes the buck stops at Nixon, but he really didn't know what Mitchell and Haldeman were doing. And Ollie North was a cowboy. And the direct fault lies with Rumsfeld or Franks.

"After Sept. 11, President Bush wanted to turn the tables on America's enemies by going on the offensive. As Bush had indicated in a major campaign speech delivered at the Citadel military academy in 1999, he wished to create a more mobile and lethal force that wouldn't take the six months to assemble that his father's gulf war had required. It was an early sign, missed by most, that Bush already had Saddam Hussein on his mind." ...from the DeLong link

Rumsfeld's theories? In a speech by Bush in 1999? Appears anyone can come up with support for whatever agenda from that book.

I am in such an agreeable mood today that I am going to agree with Bob, Hilzoy and Jackmormon.

I do think Rumsfeld is the most competent of the major players in thsi administration, and quite possibly the most honest.

Of course, there is a low bar involved in that statement.

At the same time, much of what has gone wrong is his fault, particularly in refusing to allow the experts at State involved in the post fighting planning.

But this is a question of ego more than intelligence. Rumsfeld has a very high opinion of his opinions, and does not do a lot of second guessing of himself. And it is very possible he bought into all the tripe coming from Cheney and Bush and the other in the "Let's go have fun and whup Hussein" cabal.

Also, it is pretty well understood that Bush is not the most curious of individuals, so he would be unlikely to question any plans set before him.

Perhaps the biggest failing of this administration, and most of the members of it, is a level of hubris that may never have been seen in this country before on such a widespread scale. With that comes an inability to look beyond the big picture and look at details.

Probably the only members of this administration that did not have that conceit are those who left voluntarily.

The comments to this entry are closed.