Monday, May 10, 2004

Hell, no, Rummy won't go

Donald Rumsfeld got the official Bush seal of approval today. "Great job, Rummy! Don't worry about the pictures -- aw, shucks, I can just imagine what would happen if pictures from my hard-partying, coke-snorting days got out! I'm just glad I got sober before the age of digital cameras!"

Maureen Dowd succinctly points out why Rumsfeld isn't getting the boot from the defense department:

After all, George Tenet is still running the C.I.A. after the biggest intelligence failures since some Trojan ignored Cassandra's chatter and said, "Roll the horse in." Colin Powell is still around after trash-talking to Bob Woodward about his catfights with the Bushworld "Mean Girls" — Rummy, Cheney, Wolfie and Doug Feith. The vice president still rules after promoting a smashmouth foreign policy that is more Jack Palance than Shane. And the president still edges out John Kerry in polls, even though Mr. Bush observed with no irony to Al Arabiya TV: "Iraqis are sick of foreign people coming in their country and trying to destabilize their country, and we will help them rid Iraq of these killers."

The only people who have been pushed aside in this administration are the truth tellers who warned about policies on taxes (Paul O'Neill); war costs (Larry Lindsey); occupation troop levels (Gen. Eric Shinseki); and how Iraq would divert from catching the ubiquitous Osama (Richard Clarke).
And Josh Marshall points out another reason why Rummy is staying -- namely, if he left, Bush would have to replace him:

Let's say Rumsfeld resigns on Friday. The election is still six months away. And the nation is at war. So a new Defense Secretary would be needed more or less immediately. That would open up a very uncomfortable prospect for the administration.

Confirmation hearings for a new Sec Def would, I think, inevitably turn into a national forum for discussing the management of the Pentagon, the planning for the war and the lack of planning for the occupation. The new nominee would be drawn into all sorts of uncomfortble public second-guessing of what's happened up until this point. Sure, that's stuff under Rumsfeld. But, really, it's stuff under Bush -- the civilian head of the United States military.

That, I have to imagine, is something the White House would like to avoid at any cost.


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