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Rumsfeld Is Out:
Well, that was fast: Donald Rumsfeld is resigning. I'm most of the way through Bob Woodward's new book State of Denial, and if that book is at all accurate, this is very good news indeed. The nominee to replace Rumsfeld is former CIA chief Robert Gates; Wikipedia's entry about Gates is here.
WHOI Jacket:
So, our new defense policy is going back to purchasing large expensive weapons systems to fight the Soviets with, like the Seawolf and Paladin?
11.8.2006 2:40pm
Hoosier:
Actually, WHOI, the point was to buy large expensive weapons to NOT fight the Soviets with. (Especially if they were made in CT.)
11.8.2006 3:30pm
Randy R. (mail):
Let's see: During the campaign Bush says that Rumsfeld will stay the remaining two years. During today's press conference, he admits that he was going to fire (uh, remove) him right after the election, but that he "didn't want to influence the election."

So Bush admits that he lied to the public. And he didn't want to influence the election, even though he spent the last two weeks campaiging to do just that. And THEN he has the nerve to say that the American people just don't understand the issues.

What a crappy leader we have.
11.8.2006 3:34pm
plunge (mail):
I don't get it. Bush JUST SAID that he would be keeping Rumsfeld on, before the election. But then he made it sound like he was considering Rumsfeld's replacement for some time... and he actually angry at the press for asking about how that made sense. It looks like he simply lied: he said he had full faith in Rumsfeld, when in fact he was actively looking for a replacement.
11.8.2006 3:34pm
Anderson (mail) (www):
It looked like none of Bush's people even prepped him for the "but last week you said ..." question. He came up with 3 reasons, eventually.

IMHO, the Repubs could've saved the Senate had they announced Rummy's departure two or three weeks before the election.
11.8.2006 3:40pm
Hoosier:
I can't get exorcized about the fact that Bush said he was not going to let him go, and then makes it clear that he actually planned on doing so. How many people have presidents dismissed with the claim that they "wanted to spend more time with their family"? Personnel changes provoke this sort of fibbing.

What amazes me is that Bush has been president for a term-and-a-half, and can't BS better than this. Can someone from Yale and Harvard be described as a "rube"?
11.8.2006 3:46pm
Arbusto Spectrum:
Anderson - you have just hit upon the brilliance of Karl Rove's plan. Rove knew that Rummy had to go, but he couldn't risk having the democrats not win the congress this time around, so he had bush hold of on the announcement until after the fact. Or something like that.
11.8.2006 3:49pm
Steve P. (mail):
Anderson -- potentially risky strategy. The Bush presidency is predicated on loyalty, decisiveness, and never acknowledging mistakes. To show a crack in that armor by dismissing a man he's been supporting for years could quite possibly lose him votes by disheartening conservatives, not gain votes.

Besides, I imagine many Americans have transferred their anger from Rummy to the overall Republican party already (especially because he's been considered 'invulnerable').
11.8.2006 3:53pm
Tom952 (mail):
Good news indeed. Rummy is too reminiscent of McNamara. I doubt either one every made a mistake - according to them.
11.8.2006 4:00pm
Chumund:
At least in sports, you know that when the owner says he has full confidence in his coach, his coach is likely to be gone within two weeks. And I agree there are certain white lies that get a pass when someone is fired.

But it seems to me that here there was actually a deliberate attempt to create a false impression before the election, since no one was really pressing the President to say anything new on the subject. And what makes it bizarre is that it probably wasn't very helpful.
11.8.2006 4:02pm
Kovarsky (mail):
Hoosier,

I can't get exorcized

well maybe we can find you an exorcist.
11.8.2006 4:05pm
Hoosier:
Opps. My Catholic upbringing reveals itself in odd ways! Mea Culpa! (Damn! Did it again!)
11.8.2006 4:09pm
Michael B (mail):
A backdrop and prominent aspect of what defense policy needs to be taking into account.
11.8.2006 4:13pm
McGuffin:
That Bush lied isn't that big of a deal in itself. Why he lied is a more interesting and important question -- but I don't think it is ultimately of much moment. President's certainly can and should lie in response to certain questions, particularly in war time:


"Mr. President, are you planning on invading at Inchon tomorrow?"

"Absolutely not! I have no such plans." [While knowing full well that months of such planning will indeed reach fruition tomorrow.]


How much Bush thought he was facing a similar Q&A scenario and how much it really was similar are somewhat interesting questions, but I don't think the inquiry is leading anywhere significant. The important thing is that Rumsfeld is gone.
11.8.2006 4:24pm
Bret (mail):
Wait ... I don't get it. If yesterday WAS a referendum on Bush and the Iraq policy, wouldn't getting rid of Rumsfeld and shaking things up make sense? He got his cue from the people and he did something about it. Immediately.

"But ... but ... he sounded like he was considering this all along"

I'm happily married and, trust me, I've got some people in the batter's box. Always.
11.8.2006 4:27pm
Anderson (mail) (www):
Anderson -- potentially risky strategy.

Right, but as compared to losing the Senate? It *could've* been packaged very effectively: goodbye Rummy, hello new SecDef, who by the way has a Really Great Plan!

3500 Va. voters, let alone 1500 Mt. voters, might very well have decided to stay with the Repubs. You may underestimate the despair of Republicans who voted Dem this time b/c Bush refused to try anything new.
11.8.2006 4:28pm
Anonne:
I hate to be trite, but "ding-dong, the witch is dead..."
11.8.2006 4:30pm
Daniel Chapman (mail):
I've got to ask... what does "I'm happily married and, trust me, I've got some people in the batter's box. Always." mean? I hope I'm reading it wrong...
11.8.2006 4:32pm
Enoch:
So Bush admits that he lied to the public.

That's a really tendentious interpretation. When circumstances change, policy changes. If the Republicans had kept Congress, no doubt Rumsfeld would have stayed. Since they did not, the "keep Rumsfeld" policy must change.

People keep carping about Bush's inflexibility, but when he does show flexibility and change according to circumstances, he is called a liar. The poor guy just can't win...
11.8.2006 4:38pm
Bret (mail):
Daniel: it was a joke. Sorry.

It simply means that thinking about who would be next in line for a particular position, but publicly expressing confidence in such person doesn't constitute 'a lie'.
11.8.2006 4:38pm
SteveW:
Enoch: Bush said today that Gates would have been the new SoD no matter how the election turned out.

That segment of the press conference--


THE PRESIDENT: Right. No, you and Hunt and Keil came in the Oval Office, and Hunt asked me the question one week before the campaign, and basically it was, are you going to do something about Rumsfeld and the Vice President? And my answer was, they're going to stay on. And the reason why is I didn't want to inject a major decision about this war in the final days of a campaign. And so the only way to answer that question and to get you on to another question was to give you that answer.

The truth of the matter is, as well -- I mean, that's one reason I gave the answer, but the other reason why is I hadn't had a chance to visit with Bob Gates yet, and I hadn't had my final conversation with Don Rumsfeld yet at that point.

I had been talking with Don Rumsfeld over a period of time about fresh perspective. He likes to call it fresh eyes. He, himself, understands that Iraq is not working well enough, fast enough. And he and I are constantly assessing. And I'm assessing, as well, all the time, by myself, about, do we have the right people in the right place, or do we -- got the right strategy? As you know, we're constantly changing tactics. And that requires constant assessment.

And so he and I both agreed in our meeting yesterday that it was appropriate that I accept his resignation. And so the decision was made -- actually, I thought we were going to do fine yesterday. Shows what I know. But I thought we were going to be fine in the election. My point to you is, is that, win or lose, Bob Gates was going to become the nominee.
11.8.2006 4:43pm
Hoosier:
But that's only if what he said was what he MEANT to say.

That's quite the planted axiom, is W's case.
11.8.2006 4:48pm
Hoosier:
"in W's case."
11.8.2006 4:48pm
Mahan Atma (mail):
"what does 'I'm happily married and, trust me, I've got some people in the batter's box. Always.' mean?"

I think it means the country is about to get f*#&ed.
11.8.2006 4:49pm
BobH (mail):
"Can someone from Yale and Harvard be described as a 'rube'?"

Hey, my son is a junior at Harvard, and is about as rube-ish (ruboid? rubricious?) as you can imagine.
11.8.2006 4:52pm
JT Wenting (mail):
Rumsfeld didn't look too well (and hasn't for some time).
Maybe he decided to retire now for health reasons, doesn't think he can survive a debate with communist party leader Pelosi without suffering a heart attack on the spot.
11.8.2006 4:54pm
BSW:
I'm happily married and, trust me, I've got some people in the batter's box. Always.

Perhaps I misunderstand your quote, in which case you can clarify, but your metaphor is questionable. If you've "got some people in the batter's box," this would imply a sad state of your marriage and not flexability (as is your implication). You either commit to marriage or you don't. Similarly, Bush either has faith in Rumsfeld, or he doesn't.

If the President didn't have faith in his Defense Secretary, it was time for the man to go. Period. [As an aside, if you're lining up women for anything post-marriage, you might as well end the matrimony now.] Sadly though, I don't believe Bush makes many of his own decisions - his handlers do. Realizing the full-tide sweeping against the current administration, Rove and Cheney told Bush to give him the axe.
11.8.2006 5:04pm
Anderson (mail) (www):
See, I thought Bret was lining up *males* for his wife, when she hits her sexual peak &requires additional consorts. "Wow, hope Mrs. Anderson doesn't think of that," I worried.
11.8.2006 5:12pm
BobNSF (mail):
And the tying together of the military and the spy agencies continues.

Maybe Gates is the right choice -- I don't know. Would have been nice for Bush to actually LEARN something and CONSULT with the opposition. He still doesn't get it.
11.8.2006 5:18pm
Anderson (mail) (www):
Would have been nice for Bush to actually LEARN something and CONSULT with the opposition.

Baby steps, BobNSF, baby steps. Consulting with *his own dad* is progress for Bush. Mindbogglin', ain't it?
11.8.2006 5:30pm
BobNSF (mail):
Oh, I hadn't heard that! I'm boggled!
11.8.2006 5:33pm
Enoch:
Steve, that's what he's saying now, but who knows what he would have said if the Republicans hadn't been housed in the election? Perhaps the "constant reassessment" would have broken in favor of keeping Rumsfeld on.
11.8.2006 5:34pm
David Maquera (mail) (www):
With respect to Rumsfeld's departure, this conservative says "good riddance and don't let the door hit you on the way out." Now if only we could strip Bill Kristol, Paul Wolfowitz, Richard Perle, and all those other neocon rats of their citizenship and banish them from this country for life.
11.8.2006 5:48pm
Marcus1 (mail) (www):
Can you give a hint of what's so damning in the Woodward book?
11.8.2006 6:25pm
Fawn Hall (mail):
Nice that Bush was able to find yet another Iran-Contra figure to give a job to. Is Bill Casey still dead?
11.8.2006 6:26pm
Anderson (mail) (www):
Is Bill Casey still dead?

In a cave near the Afghan-Pakistan border, last *I* heard.
11.8.2006 6:40pm
A. Zarkov (mail):
Bush got exactly what he wanted-- the defeat of the few conservatives in the house that were blocking his massive immigration amnesty bill. It should come as no surprise that Rumsfeld gets fired after the election. To have fired Rumsfeld before the election might have actually helped House Republicans. It was patently obvious the House Republicans were headed off a cliff, and Bush needed to make major policy changes to avoid just what happened.
11.8.2006 6:52pm
Christopher Cooke (mail):
"And so the only way to answer that question and to get you on to another question was to give you that answer"

Here, I think Bush was telling the truth. He essentially admitted today that he fibbed, to get the reporter off of the issue, because he was already planning to dump Donald R., but didn't want to disclose this plan before the election.

Of course, if Bush had lied to protect a military operation or some government top secret program, or even to avoid hurting someone's feelings, we could understand and forgive the lie.

But here, it sounds like he admitted he lied because he thought that disclosing his plan to dump Rumsfield last week would have hurt the Republicans' chances in the mid-term elections (obviously, Bush was trying to influence the election in part by his non-stop campaigning, so his only reason for not disclosing this plan was his desire to avoid influencing the voters to vote for the Democrats).

Here, I think Bush was adhering to Rove's political playbook of not admitting that he has made any mistakes in order to avoid giving the "enemy" (Democrats) some ammunition for the mid-term election. I think he was wrong: dumping Rumsfield before the election (say in October), admitting his administration had made serious mistakes in Iraq, and inviting the Democrats to chime in on a strategy for Iraq might have removed some of the public's anger and anxiousness for a change, and helped the Republicans.

Maybe Bush should study Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger's tactics of the past year which have worked well for Arnold S. in securing his resounding reelection yesterday as California's governor: admit your mistakes, say you "heard" the voters, and begin working with the other side to find compromise. I predict Bush's arrogance and/or Cheney's fanaticism will prevent them from following the Governator's lead, though, regardless of the Gates-for-Rummy switch we witnessed today.
11.8.2006 7:01pm
fishbane (mail):
This is all Kremlinology, but my guess is that throwing Rummy under the bus was a contingency plan. Had they actually held one or both of the Chambers, it would have been Vindication, and they could let things go to hell for anouther 2 years, at which point it would be someone else's problem. Given the worst case (both captured by the enemy), the plan is to preempt some of the inevitable investigations by disposing of the most visible cause of the screwup, excepting Bush &Cheney, of course.

I expect to see more preemption in the next few weeks.
11.8.2006 7:41pm
bearmore:
Nice that Bush was able to find yet another Iran-Contra figure to give a job to.

If he's from the South, I'm willing to bet that he's used "The N Word" before, too. He should do the honorable thing and fall on his sword now.
11.8.2006 7:50pm
Anderson (mail) (www):
According to MSNBC's source, Fishbane is right. Good call!
But a source told NBC News' military analyst Bill Arkin that prior to the election, Vice President Dick Cheney argued with other politicians over whether Rumsfeld should stay. White House Chief of Staff Josh Bolten and others said Rumsfeld should be removed, the source said. Both sides agreed the decision would be made after the election, when Bush would make the final call based on how Republicans did.

According to the source, Bush agreed Rumsfeld should be removed after seeing election results favoring Democrats. Cheney then lost another argument, protesting Gates' nomination as Rumsfeld's replacement.
The more arguments Cheney loses over the next 2 years, the better. Gates will succeed only if he can stand up to Cheney.
11.8.2006 9:39pm
Anderson (mail) (www):
11.8.2006 9:40pm
Enoch:
if Bush had lied to protect a military operation or some government top secret program, or even to avoid hurting someone's feelings, we could understand and forgive the lie.

You don't understand a politician lying to influence the outcome of an election? I would call that the easiest thing to understand that there is. Indeed, that was the basis for Bill Clinton's political success!
11.8.2006 11:02pm
Syd (mail):
Tom952 (mail):
Good news indeed. Rummy is too reminiscent of McNamara. I doubt either one every made a mistake - according to them.
11.8.2006 4:00pm0


I think the same thing. When I saw The Fog of War, all I could think of was Rumsfeld. And although the movie tells us of McNamara's lessons, it also gives us a portrait of the man, and it's very scary how his mind works. A good case of a documentary revealing more of a man than he probably intended.
11.8.2006 11:49pm
fishbane (mail):
Clinton. McNamara.

I'm really amused that people like to talk about the past all of the sudden. But, if that's the case, Nixon, anyone? Someone please defend him. That would rock.
11.9.2006 1:44am
Josh Jasper:
"Gee, our ship seems to be leaking, and we've got this Rumsfeld sized ballast. Perhaps if we throw it overboard now, we won't be totaly underwater by 2008!"

If you think Democrats aren't going to take at least some time to sink the Republican ship a bit more, you're nuts. And we can do that *and* pass some usefull legislation, *and* finaly bring to light the huge mess Bush made out of rebulding Iraq.

We can start by investigating the mismanagement of the CPA, the insane cronyism that went into staffing it, and the billions of dollars literally lost. Rumsfeld was involved in that. He'll have a lot of time on his hands now to answer questions.
11.9.2006 10:29am
Christopher Cooke (mail):
I agree with investigating the CPA, and some of the contractors, over corruption among the contractors, the facts suggest there was some significant issues. Corruption/stealing is a sin, regardless of which party commits it.

Mismanagement, it seems to me, is the past, and there is little to be gained from proving that the CPA was staffed by political hacks who didn't know what they were doing, but were certainly against partial birth abortion (if you think I am jesting on this last point, you didn't watch the recent Frontline show on the CPA's first year).
11.9.2006 11:49am
kovo62 (mail):
But here, it sounds like he admitted he lied because he thought that disclosing his plan to dump Rumsfield last week would have hurt the Republicans' chances in the mid-term elections

It probably would have helped and certainly couln't have hurt the Republicans. But we have troops fighting in Iraq &Afghanistan and the President, as Commander in Chief, must avoid the appearance of fiddling with the chain of command for political, or even worse, electoral reasons. You can call it a lie if you like because it is one, but I think, at least here, he did the right thing.
11.10.2006 10:16am
Mark Field (mail):

It probably would have helped and certainly couln't have hurt the Republicans. But we have troops fighting in Iraq &Afghanistan and the President, as Commander in Chief, must avoid the appearance of fiddling with the chain of command for political, or even worse, electoral reasons. You can call it a lie if you like because it is one, but I think, at least here, he did the right thing.


Your reasoning would be more persuasive if (1) Bush hadn't given a different reason for his lie (paraphrasing, that he "didn't want to affect the election"), and (2) Bush hadn't made similar misleading comments when John Snow left.
11.10.2006 1:37pm
kovo62 (mail):
I see Bush as someone who usually means what he says but who is woefully inadequate in the ability to express what he means.
11.11.2006 5:54am