Very late last night, around 3 a.m., as I was preparing to take Becky to the airport for the first leg of her flight to South Dakota, I was able to watch a few minutes of Rumsfeld testimony and pay attention to how it was being reported. This
Washington Post story (substance aside, I like the way it is written) reflects the general mood: Rumsfeld is apologetic, and on the defense; he looks tired and haggard, maybe even aged (he is 71, by the way); he is no longer certain of himself. Finally, his detractors assert he begins to doubt himself. His time has come. He must resign. Some tried to argue--before 9/11--that he would be the first cabinet officer to wash out, then even his enemies admitted that he was brilliant in Afghanistan, then came Iraq and a few months after the brilliant campaign, he was fair game again. More problems in Iraq showed up than he may have expected or planned on, and he was once again the bad guy. The neo-con conspiracy stuff is not irrelevant in this; much internal DOD arguments becoming public; many personal animosities coming into play. And then the elite media was in a permanent attack mode. Then this Abu Ghraib fiasco. We have humiliated the Iraqis, it is said. Worse then torture. A good time to get rid of Rumsfeld, if not Bush. Now we are a shellsocked hegemon, says David Brooks. Everything we are attempting to do in Iraq and elsewhere is at stake. Maybe. Probably not. Rumsfeld most certainly should not go. If you think that you should support John Kerry for president, and then youll get a real Secretary of Defense, so you think.
As I have said, I dont like what happened at this prison. Bad show, to humiliate the soldiers of Saddam Hussein. I agree. Yet, this wasnt even a Mai Lai, never mind dropping a couple of nukes on Japan, or firebombing Dresden. So lets not get carried away by all this. Political men have political enemies, and enemies try to take advantage of opportunities; they always push and shove, on all fronts, and sometimes the pushing penetrates. Yet, this Washington Post-ABC News poll find that 69% of Americans dont want Rumsfeld to resign. I side with the common sense of the American people. We are in a war, and certain things follow. Get petty and silly and stupid some other time, will you? Why should I now start listening to the great moralist Senator Kennedy, as always full of passionate intensity, (or that moron from Minnesota, Mark Dayton)? I will not. Here is the transcript of the Senate Armed Services Committee hearing of yesterday. On the one hand the American people dont like what happened at the prison (and some argue that we should have blown the prison up as soon as we went in; maybe, but you should have argued it at the time), on the other hand they understand that what we are doing in that part of the world is too important to be affected by an isolated incident. After all, we dont humiliate (or torture) as a matter of policy. But what about the opinion of the Iraqis, or Muslims more generally? Well, thats interesting, and I have said from the beginning that this incident(s) could have broad unfavorable strategic consequences, and most certainly will be useful as propaganda for our enemies. And yet, I saw an Iraqi being interviewed (he claimed to be in one of the infamous photographs) and he said this: I am so deeply humiliated by how I was treated that I cannot continue to live in Iraq, so I will have to go to America. I have nothing else to say for now save this: Let the best of us have conviction, hold the center, do not let mere anarchy loose upon the world, and things will not fall apart. A great speech from the President within the next few days would be helpful toward this purpose.