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McCain on Rummy

"I think that Donald Rumsfeld will go down in history as one of the worst secretaries of defense in history," said Sen. McCain. Even though this is not the first sign of criticism from McCain, it is too absolute and will not serve him well with circa 30-40% of GOP primary voters. Bad move, in my opinion.

Discussions - 19 Comments

Just one more reason McCain is not fit to be Commander in Chief.

In this case, as usual, McCain can’t temper his comments or control his mouth. He’s a blurter.

Note no word from McCain holding GWB, or the commanding generals in the US military responsible for errors in judgement in Iraq. And, no word from McCain on the great degree of difficulty in our Iraq endeavor.

McCain needs to slink back to Arizona. He’s just a non-starter for US president.

Indeed, most of the criticism of Rumsfeld comes from trying to pacify Iraq with the 1990’s "Peace Dividend-sized" Army and Marine Corps. There’s not a lot a sitting Sec Def can do about his predecessor’s decisions about force sizes and funding levels. Wasn’t McCain in the Senate when these cuts were made? Funny, I don’t recall him speaking out at the time. Trying to "out-hindsight" the Democrats by criticizing Rummy seems a little opportunistic to me. If we’re going to play the hindsight game, there is plenty of criticism to go around.

Well as a Republican and former Sgt. in the Army I find myself agreeing with McCain on this one. Although it may be a tactical mistake to say it outloud like that.

Just as the left has allowed themselves to be blinded by their hatred of George Bush, I think some on the right have allowed themselves to be blinded by the Iraqi conflict.

I try to stay up with Army issues even though I am no longer enlisted. I still have many many friends in the intel field. And... And Rumsfeld was not all golden as Bush wanted everyone to believe. He should have let Rumsfeld go before or shortly after he won reelection.

Now they find themselves going back, again, to defend one of the primary architects of the debacle that is Iraq.

yip yip

Yet another imprudent and excessively manly exaggeration. And I’m far from a Rumsfeld fan.

Peter - I am a Rumsfeld fan, but admit that my son, the corpsman in the Navy, speaks of Rumsfeld as Coyote does. My son, the former Marine, is also not a fan. Maybe it is just the traditional soldiers gripe against civilian command or command in general, but it is there.

It is widespread among officers at every level, as well - though it is far short from a universal sentiment.

It seems to me entirely prudent and, indeed, politically astute. The war in Iraq has gone badly - there’s not much debate about that. (Or, if you want to dispute that, there’s no dispute that the vast, vast majority of American voters think it has gone badly). But McCain supports the war, and thinks that the policy ought to be directed toward winning it, not "ending it." And how to best communicate that? Criticize the man most responsible for the execution of the war, Donald Rumsfeld.

Some criticism, sure. Don’t get me started! But it’s implausible to put all the blame on him for the outcome so far.

If you accept that the war has gone badly, as the majority of people believe it has, I would submit that many others are equally (if not more) to blame than the former SecDef. I would include most members of Congress and the Senate in this category - as well as those members of the 4th estate that have clearly been pushing an agenda (if for nothing else than for reckless reporting).

Having said that, I don’t believe that the war has gone nearly as badly as the vast majority of Americans believe it has - and will always debate that. Simply because the vast majority believes something does not make it true. And one man should not be held responsible for those vastly-held beliefs, if belief is all it is. Assume for the sake of argument that it is not true. Who then is responsible for the false perception?

Bullshit! The war in Iraq went amazingly well, the quickest and least bloody war we ever fought. It started down hill when we let the State Department run it. It was, of course, the Bush State department so it was Bush’s fault. Rumsfeld had a whole lot of Hillary generals to work through, so it is a miracle he acomplished anything.
McCain, son of an Admiral, was not even a good pilot.

W.E.W. - "The war in Iraq went amazingly well..."

Went??! So, are you actually saying that the war in Iraq is over?

I am relieved to see McCain’s statement finally get some response. His anti-Rumsfeld remark is an extraordinarily cheap shot, kicking the man when he’s down and out. Nobody bats 1.000, not even ol’ John, and Rummy undoubtedly made his own share of mistakes. But so has McCain, and this cheap shot is one of them, perhaps a character-defining one.

McCain isn’t worried about that speculative "30% to 40%" of the GOP. He’s much more worried about the wider electorate that is livid with the President and his entire administration. McCain staked out a position for a more aggressive war effort, but he’s main problem is that HIS position be viewed as equivalent to that of the President’s.

Right now, George Walker Bush, {BECAUSE of his own idiosyncrasies...} is the kiss of death.

Karl Rove and others might be drinking the Kool Aid about the six year itch, but McCain immediately put it together. The nation is LIVID with Bush, and properly so.

If McCain is to have a chance, and if ANY Republican is to have a chance, they must stay as far away from Bush as possible. George Bush and his entire family is the political equivalent to the Black Death.

As for Rumsfeld, he’s been a mixed bag. Transformation was important, likewise jointness. But you couldn’t get the help that the war effort was not necessarily the foremost thing in his mind. For example, the hummers. Upgrading and uparmouring the hummer was never an answer. Right now, the South Africans build a far better APV for the task at hand. It was DESIGNED precisely to guard against terrorist planted roadside devices. And it’s damn good. But instead of immediately purchasing them, {or another like it, while our own industry creates the next generation version...} so as to protect our troops, Rumsfeld allowed this leisurely process of uparmouring to take place.

We’re over three years in, and look at the scant progress with the Iraqis. NOW COMPARE this woeful effort to the position that MACV Commander Creighton Abrams was in when he took over for Westmoreland, and look what he managed to do for the ARVN and related forces within a three year time span. And Abrams challenge WAS FAR MORE BURDENSOME than the one assigned to Casey, Abizaid, et al.

Rumsfeld, despite his media charisma, did not perform as we would have liked to see him perform.

Ask yourself this when you judge his performance, all those times that Rumsfeld was asked about the Iranians, and all those times he responded by saying, and I quote, "they’re not being very helpful," {or "they’re being unhelpful..."}. ALL THOSE TIMES, was he serving the war effort, was he advancing the nation’s understanding of the wider war, of the nature of our enemies, was he advancing the nation towards a proper showdown with our main enemy. The answer is of course not. No. He wasn’t. He’s DELAYED the reckoning, instead of hastening it. And for those who say that the play was dictated by State, CIA and the White House, which it was, that doesn’t absolve Rumsfeld. Because sooner or later, when it hits the fan, he had an obligation to the men in his command, obeying his orders, to speak the truth to the American people MacArthur spoke the truth, and history vindicated him. He’s a legend. Rumsfeld PARTICIPATED in the obscuring of our war aims, participated in the obscuring our understanding of the war.

AND THAT OBSCURING has played utter havoc with our overall war effort.

Rumsfeld, for all the enjoyment of the press conferences, which were delightful, was very much a mixed bag.

Rumsfeld was one of the few "standup" guys on the Hill. His major problem was that he pissed off the military by reforging them into a leaner, meaner fighting force for the 21st Century. Unfortunately, his boss started an old-fashioned 20th Century occupation. By the time everyone figured this out, they were playing catch-up.

As for his lack of commentary about Iran, I can’t blame him. He WASN’T the POTUS...loose talk is discouraged, and I’m sure Rummy was warned to watch his words in that regard. Just more Bush PC BS.

I’ve got problems with many a thing he did. It was Rumsfeld who thwarted the build up of our forces. Rumsfeld tried to fight a war with a peacetime cadre. We have troops on their 4th and 5th tour because he REFUSED to countenance a larger force structure. Money ALLOCATED by Congress for a larger force HE REFUSED to use to increase the number of uor divisions. We NEED MORE MEN. And he’s been an absolute hammerhead about that. Our Navy is dwindling rapidly, but our committments sure aren’t.

I think that Dan nailed much of my concern and the concern I hear from my buddies still in uniform.

AND, I don’t think anyone is saying that the blame should be placed on "one man," namely Rumsfeld. However he was the Sec Def and the responsibility enveloped in that high office calls for criticism of mistakes made. Don’t pass the buck.

Sure he was good when handling the press. However his job description went well beyond spokesperson.

Dan also nailed it when he talked about the "Black Death," of the Bush administration. That is a thought I have been postulating for over a year now. Unfortunately Republicans in the last cycle did not "get it" early enough.

No, he was not a good Sed Def and the sooner Republicans just let that stage in our history go the better. It’s over, quit fighting it and for heaven’s sake I hope Republicans at the national level stop expending capital trying to defend it.

While I don’t think it is smart for McCain to have said what he said, I think it is even less smart for Cheney et al to keep this discussion in the headlines by defending Rummy. Best just to shake your head and move on to say, healthcare or immigration or something that the American people are more interested in.

I’m sorry, but I don’t think we do need a ginormous military force...we need one that is effective at defending the country, period. I think Rummy was right in his policies, but occupation requires crazy levels of $ and manpower. It’s something we shouldn’t be important as TWOT is, sitting around the Middle East isn’t an effective way to fight the war. Topple Saddam yes...sit around for 4 or 5 years afterward, NO.

As for military people being upset about current policies...quit. It’s a voluntary force. Nothing will get the message across faster than voting with one’s feet. The solution is simple and lot more "manly" than bitching and whining.

Rumsfeld will be assessed much more fairly about ten years after the Iraq situation ends.

That does not mean the assessment will be favorable. Only that it will come from much more information and after the politics have somewhat subsided.

McCain seems bent on political suicide to me. But I think that best. To me he just never had any appeal. Kicking Rumsfeld seems petty.

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