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Clinton rising, Rumsfeld fading

I have returned from Atlanta, but down with a cold or something equally debilitating. I flatter myself in repeating what Leonato says to Antonia in Much Ado About Nothing: "There was never yet philosopher/That could endure the tootache patiently." I’m going home in a few minutes, after a visit to the doctor (Vicki thinks I have pnemounia). The two paragraphs below were sent to me by a significant person, whom I shall call Bolingbroke. It is both perceptive and well written and, alas, seems true.

I have been watching television. I have seen Clinton in operation at an event in Iowa? with Harkin and some Demo candidates for president and then at Los Angeles’s AME something or other Church with Gray Davis present (live on Sunday). The man is rolling. He is better than he has ever been. He is utterly confident--disgustingly so, to one of certian persuasions, of course--more drawlingly folksy than ever, full of hogs and swill imagery, brilliantly and viciously partisan, painting the Democrats as pragmatic middle of the roaders favoring prosperity for everybody, and Republicans as captives of Big Business, a self-conscious celebrity, the obviously most important person in the room--or in the field--offering gratitude to everyone who had ever been associated with him--that is everyone--stirring energy and confidence in the crowd, as no one present could do. He alone is proof of the potency of the Democrat challenge; he will be everywhere, in California and elsewhere, where Democrats regroup in the coming months.

And I saw Donald Rumsfeld, in a tape of a September 10 or thereabouts national press club gig. The man has aged. He appears an old man as he never has, not in his appearance so obviously, as in the public workings of his famous mind. Self-doubt has crept in, as it should do in those who recognize that their faculties, on which they have relied confidently all their lives, are beginning to fail them. Private prediction--he has already put in for retirement and is waiting for the first graceful opportunity to effect it. Quiverings of uncertainty will shimmer throughout the administration and the public and will be readily recognized by our enemies. Handling his replacement will be a delicate and important part of the next stage of the administration’s ensuring all concerned that it is a ship on an even keel.

Discussions - 5 Comments

A great posting!

Two conclusions flow...
1. Rumsfeld has to go, and fast, for
confidence in our Iraq policy to grow.
2. Clark, the Clintons’ favorite, will be the Democratic nominee. (unless Hillary herself runs, which is still unlikely)

I don’t know about Clinton rising but even if he is where can he go? He can say some unkind things about President Bush and the Republicans but what is that going to do? This probably helps Democrat candidates to a very slight degree. In so far as California goes, Davis may dodge this bullet but that won’t make him stronger. Davis is finished for national office.

Clinton is a media whore and needs the attention. So what’s new?

BTW, Hillary is no Bill. Can you imagine her doing what Bill did in the AME church?

Secretary Rumsfeld is not a young man, and perhaps the visuals emphasized that more than usual.

But I just went through the transcript pretty carefully, and it seems like a fairly good performance substantively to me. The only real missteps I read were: 1) the reference to Jerry Bremer -- not really a mistake, because Paul Bremer’s nickname is Jerry, 2) confusing Stryker and Crusader, which he corrected before the end of the appearance, 3) inability to come up with the budgeting term "concurrent receipts" before a listener shouted it out to him.

I would be surprised (and disappointed) to see the Secretary leave anytime soon. The important work of DoD transformation has only just begun, and that has been his charge from the start (although along the way, the Administration discovered he was a major PR asset with his CSpan appearances).

"Rumsfeld fading"????

Let’s see. You are talking about the civilian leader of the U.S. Defense Department, that moved that organization to two of the greatest military victories in history, conquering two countries in just over 2 years, aren’t you? The same guy who’s witty press conferences are the "Hotest Ticket" in Washington, right? Compared to the last three Secretaries of Defense [Les Aspin, Jr. (1993-94) William J. Perry (1994-97) William Cohen (1997-2001)] - this man is a giant! I suppose you have similar problems with elderly Churchill’s performance during WWII. Clinton on his best day only wished he was half as competent at "Rummy". He is still a "stud"!

I think Rummy may also have been a bit exhausted: If I’m not mistaken, he was just back (by maybe a day or two) from his whirlwind trip to Iraq, and he may very well have been prepping for 9/11 observances as well.

Come to think of it, I’d say he’s had a rather busy year, too.

Whether he can hold out through a second term is another question.

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