Monday, December 20, 2004

The Continuing Saga of Secretary Rumsfeld

President Bush personally addressed recent criticisms of Defense Secretary Rumsfeld in a press conference this morning, saying, "I believe he's doing a really fine job." This comes after critics have been crawling from the woodwork in recent days, from GOP Senators Chuck Hagel, Trent Lott, Susan Collins and John McCain, to the secretary's many critics in the Democratic Party. While Rumsfeld has found support from Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist and White House Press Secretary Scott McClellan, it was obvious that the President himself was going to have to lend a bit of public support to quell the rash of criticisms. We'll see how effective his press conference was in the weeks leading up to free elections in Iraq this January.

What's more troubling is how out of touch Bush seemed with the situation in Iraq. He said at one point about Rumsfeld,
"I have heard the anguish in his voice and seen his eyes when we talk about the danger in Iraq and the fact that youngsters are over there in harm's way. And he's a good, decent man. He's a caring fellow."

And that's all well and good -- it's nice to hear we have someone who agonizes over the dangers and deaths in Iraq. But what we really need is someone to admit to the American public that perhaps we should have gone with a larger troop force in order to better secure "post-war" Iraq. Or someone to acknowledge to American soldiers that we're going to be in the country for a good, long while. Or someone to tell Congress that there is a need for additional funding or manpower or whatever to get our troops the necessary vehicles and equipment, in order for them to do their jobs in as safe a manner as possible. And p.s., we need someone who actually signs those letters of condolence to families who have lost loved one in Iraq, and doesn't have a computer do it for him.

Note to President Bush: this person will not be Paul Wolfowitz, either. Find us someone who will not be Rumsfeld, Part Deux. Find us someone we can trust, not someone who spews the party line like some automaton. Perhaps it's not a bad idea to wait until after Iraqi elections, as this will be a major test of post-war Iraqi security. But the President is putting his political capital on the line with his unwavering support of Secretary Rumsfeld. And it could prove fatal for his second term agenda, depending on how things go over the next 40 days.

But find us someone, Mr. President. Find us someone, and soon.

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