Friday, April 14, 2006

Defying the Drumbeat

[[W A R]] * There’s a terrific post over at Daily Kos, written by the pseudonymous Georgia10, that looks at why George W. Bush continues to back his secretary of defense, Donald Rumsfeld, even when generals, one by one, are calling for Rumsfeld’s prompt resignation. I think the author has it right, that Bush can’t let his war minister go without acknowledging that the reasons for Rumsfeld’s ouster--“his absolute failures in managing the war against Saddam in Iraq,” to quote Major General Charles H. Swannack Jr.--are as much his responsibility as they are anybody else’s. Writes Georgia10:
Rumsfeld offered to resign at least twice, yet the President stubbornly refuses to acknowledge Rumsfeld’s failures. This President, who has told us time and time again he will follow the advice of military commanders on the ground, is now ignoring that advice. He is choosing instead to retain an incompetent Secretary of Defense lest the Commander-in-Chief look weak. So intent is the President on ignoring Rumsfeld’s failures, Scott McClellan proclaimed that the President thinks Rumsfeld is doing a “very fine job.” A heck of a job, indeed, Rummy.
AMERICAblog’s John Avarosis piles on, writing that “In any other government, once a leader loses the confidence of so many high-powered fellow leaders, he’d be forced to step down--hell, his own sense of duty would tell him to step down. But not in the Bush administration. Arrogance and rewarding incompetence are virtues in George Bush’s world. Never admit a mistake and keep watching the troops die because of your incompetence.”

The prez thinks, for some reason, that Americans respect leaders who don’t change their minds. But there’s a not very subtle line between determination and denial, and Bush leaped across that ages ago. His obstinacy in the face of evidence contrary to his convictions is likely to cause history to remember him in the same way that it does Lyndon B. Johnson on the issue of the Vietnam War: as wrong and inflexible, rather than right and patiently confident when the rest of the nation was not.

YADDA YADDA: USA Today reports that “Like a man on a treadmill, President Bush has gotten almost nowhere making speeches over the past seven months to boost public support for the war in Iraq.” Since the prez claims that he doesn’t have time enough to observe polling data, the paper brings him up to date on his Sisyphean task:
Shortly before the speeches began in late September, 32% of Americans approved of Bush’s handling of Iraq, according to a Sept. 16-18 USA Today/CNN/Gallup Poll.

The rating inched up as high as 39% in the ensuing months, but the latest poll, taken April 7-9, showed that approval had dropped back to 32%.

Analysts say there is little Bush can do except keep talking and hope things improve in Iraq.

“He can’t argue his way to better numbers. He needs favorable results in Iraq. And that’s out of his hands,” says Merle Black, a political scientist at Emory University in Atlanta.
With the generally conservative and Bush-friendly Chicago Tribune today joining the chorus of analysts saying that Iraq is “embroiled in what amounts to civil war,” Dubya could be waiting a very long time for the “favorable results” of which Black speaks.

READ MORE:Replace Rumsfeld,” by David Ignatius (The Washington Post); “What Rumsfeld Knew,” by Michael Scherer and Mark Benjamin (Salon); “White House Defends Rumsfeld’s Tenure,” by Peter Baker (The Washington Post); “The Rummy Mutiny,” by Maureen Dowd (The New York Times); “Black Reconnaissance,” by Digby (Hullabaloo); “Throwing Rummy from the Train,” by Larry Johnson (TPM Café); “Permission to Speak Freely, Sir,” by Stephen Pizzos (AlterNet); “On the Horns of an Iraqi Dilemma,” by Martin Sieff (UPI).

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