Thursday, December 16, 2004


Kicking him when he's down - but at least he's not in Abu Ghraib

Brad DeLong nails it:
William Kristol Is Shrill!

The latest shrill critic of George W. Bush and his administration is William Kristol:
The Defense Secretary We Have ( Decisions on troop levels in the American system of government are not made by any general or set of generals but by the civilian leadership of the war effort. Rumsfeld acknowledged this last week, after a fashion: "I mean, everyone likes to assign responsibility to the top person and I guess that's fine." Except he fails to take responsibility.

All defense secretaries in wartime have, needless to say, made misjudgments. Some have stubbornly persisted in their misjudgments. But have any so breezily dodged responsibility and so glibly passed the buck?

In Sunday's New York Times, John F. Burns quoted from the weekly letter to the families of his troops by Lt. Col. Mark A. Smith, an Indiana state trooper who now commands the 2nd Battalion, 24th Marine Expeditionary Unit, stationed just south of Baghdad:

"Ask yourself, how in a land of extremes, during times of insanity, constantly barraged by violence, and living in conditions comparable to the stone ages, your marines can maintain their positive attitude, their high spirit, and their abundance of compassion?" Col. Smith's answer: "They defend a nation unique in all of history: One of principle, not personality; one of the rule of law, not landed gentry; one where rights matter, not privilege or religion or color or creed. . . . They are United States Marines, representing all that is best in soldierly virtues."

These soldiers deserve a better defense secretary than the one we have.
They do indeed. But William Kristol is one of the people who--successfully--blocked those of us who were trying last fall to get them a better defense secretary.
Rumsfeld is now a safe target for everyone who knows they need to sound realistic but who just cannot bring themselves to ever blame anything on Bush.

I imagine Rumsfeld is not much longer for the job. He'll probably resign, and Bush will manfully try to carry on without the person he will undoubtedly laud as "the greatest SecDef of all time." Then, ten seconds later, he'll totally forget that Don Rumsfeld ever drew breath in his service.

That will buy Bush enough time to find his next scapegoat, the man whom all of his Koolaid-drinking supporters - like Bill Kristol - can blame when things continue to get worse in Iraq.
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