Rumsfeld cuts and runs.

Democrats have their first scalp on the day after the election: Donald Rumsefeld is stepping down from his position as Secretary of Defense. I wrote two years ago and again in April that Donald Rumsfeld wasn’t going anywhere because the Bush administration stood to lose much more than they’d gain from cutting him loose. Clearly that’s no longer so. The newly bipartisan President Bush is appointing…former CIA chief Robert Gates. Well, Bush has obviously learned nothing from having his ass handed to him yesterday.

11 thoughts on “Rumsfeld cuts and runs.”

  1. What’s wrong with Gates? I’ll wait and see how things pan out, but I think he’s got exactly the right background for dealing with Iraq. He’s also not a Bush insider, which counts for a lot.

  2. Actually he IS a Bush insider, just from the older generation. Gates served under George H.W. Bush — as deputy national security adviser from 1989-91 and deputy CIA director from 1986-89.

    But I won’t automatically hang him for that. By every rod of assize, Bush Sr. was much smarter in his choice of operatives than Bush Jr. has proven himself to be.

  3. Yes, Waldo, please explain what your beef with Gates is. It’s non-obvious, unless you’re simply referring to the fact that he previously served under Republican administrations.

  4. TLPatten,

    I make a distinction between people from Bush Sr.’s administration and Bush Jr’s. If anything, most of Bush Sr.’s crowd thinks that junior is a total failure.

    Bush Sr. didn’t nominate incompetant cronies to national security positions. The fact that Gates knew some people involved with Iran contra shouldn’t mean anything, either. DC is a small world. Everyone in Washington knew someone involved with Iran Contra. It doesn’t make him a criminal. Gates had a history of government service going way back. He came up within the ranks of CIA and from what I know about people who are really part of traditional CIA culture, I would trust them with almost anything. It’s an academic culture where facts mean everything and spin is non-existant. Gates is exactly the kind of realist we need to get us out of Iraq.

    Normally, I’d like to see someone younger with a military background leading Defense. But the current challenge facing the Pentagon is how to deal with a situation in Iraq which is fundamentally a political and intel-related one. We need a guy with Gates’ skills and thinking to lead the Pentagon for a few years. I’d like to see Gates deal with Iraq and then follow him with a younger, fresher face who has combat experience and can start sorting out some of the organizational/command issues facing the military. Looking at more integrated divisions and that sort of thing.

    Maybe President Schweitzer will nominate Eric Shinseki in early ’09.

  5. I don’t have any problem with Gates — I don’t know nearly enough about him to have such a problem. But given a) Bush’s call for bipartisanship and b) the widespread speculation that Rumsfeld could be replaced by Sen. Lieberman, the appointment of Gates doesn’t send the message that Bush ought to be sending right now.

  6. From Jack:

    I make a distinction between people from Bush Sr.’s administration and Bush Jr’s.

    As I said, “I won’t automatically hang [Gates] for that…. Bush Sr. was much smarter in his choice of operatives than Bush Jr. has proven himself to be.”

    IOW, I’m looking forward to seeing how Gates resolves the Iraq war — and am actually willing to allow him the time and leeway to do so.

    [Yes, I know I nearly always sound like a rabid Yellow Dog these days. But people who have known me for more than 6 years are aware that I once belonged to the Libertarian party and even worked for the McCain nomination. Unfortunately, Bush Jr. moved the center so far to the right I had to move far left in order to keep my balance.]

  7. I heard some of the same speculation about SecDef Lieberman, but, man, that would’ve been a nasty move on Bush’s part. Lieberman goes to SecDef, Republican governor of Connecticut appoints a Republican to replace Lieberman, Senate tips back to the Republicans, Dems go (more) nuts. You think that would have been a more unifying move than the appointment of Gates? (Or maybe I’m misinterpreting you as saying your item b would be the more reasonable result of your item a?)

  8. No, Jon, my point is simply that the appointment of a Republican is probably not the message that Bush wants to be sending right now. I don’t mean that point B springs from point A, only that many in the public were poised to hear something quite a bit different than what he announced today.

  9. Is it even clear that Gates *is* a Republican? Looking over his biography and resume I see no evidence of his partisanship either way. Since he left CIA in 1993 he’s been a college professor. I’m not seeing him drawing paychecks from conservative think tanks or Halliburton.

    Robert Gates was exactly the right guy for Bush to nominate. My only regret is that the need for straighting Iraq out immediately does not allow Bush to wait until January to formally nominate Gates. He’ll have to be confirmed by the lame duck Senate, which is a shame because I would have loved the opportunity for the Democratic Senate to unanimously confirm Gates as SecDef in one of those rare moments of bipartisanship.

    Bush Sr.’s national security team was largely a very respectable and competant one. With the exception of Dick Cheney (due to what I’ve seen of him as VP) I have no problem seeing any of them step back into leadership role in government.

    Also note that Gates was a protege of Brent Scowcroft, a guy who always knows what time it is. This is exactly the right new blood for the Pentagon.

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