Tuesday, December 21, 2004

Should Rumsfeld go?

This week's symposium over at Homespun Bloggers (thanks to Considerettes for pointing out their site) is whether Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld should be dumped in the wake of all the recent negative press surrounding the ongoing war in Iraq.

First, it may be useful to examine the motives of Rumsfeld's critics. David Limbaugh reports that Rep. Charlie Rangel (D-NY), wants to begin impeachment hearings. Limbaugh astutely observes:

It just seems to me that because the president won his re-election so recently, Democrats have decided (consciously or not) to transfer their considerable hostility to one of the president's chief surrogates, Mr. Rumsfeld. The persistence and personal viciousness of these attacks against Rumsfeld are striking.

Speaking of the President, consider what he had to say about Rumsfeld in his news conference yesterday:

Q Thank you, Mr. President. Several Republican lawmakers recently have criticized Secretary Rumsfeld. What does he need to do to rebuild their trust?
THE PRESIDENT: Well, first of all, when I asked the Secretary to stay on as Secretary of Defense, I was very pleased when he said "yes." And I asked him to stay on because I understand the nature of the job of the Secretary of Defense, and I believe he's doing a really fine job.

The Secretary of Defense is a complex job. It's complex in times of peace, and it's complex even more so in times of war. And the Secretary has managed this Department during two major battles in the war on terror -- Afghanistan and Iraq. And at the same time, he's working to transform our military so it functions better, it's lighter, it's ready to strike on a moment's notice. In other words, that the force structure meets the demands we face in the 21st century.

Not only is he working to transform the nature of the forces, we're working to transform where our forces are based. As you know, we have recently worked with the South Korean government, for example, to replace manpower with equipment, to keep the Peninsula secure and the Far East secure, but at the same time, recognizing we have a different series of threats. And he's done a fine job, and I look forward to continuing to work with him.

And I know the Secretary understands the Hill. He's been around in Washington a long period of time and he will continue to reach out to members of the Hill, explaining the decisions he's made. And I believe that in a new term, members of the Senate and the House will recognize what a good job he's doing.

I think it's safe to say that the President believes Rumsfeld should stay on as Secretary of Defense.

Which takes me back to the first point I made which is this: what are the motives of Rumsfeld's critics? They certainly aren't giving him credit for successfully managing two military campaigns while simultaneously rebuilding and reshaping our military to be able to effectively respond to the threats of terrorism. His critics aren't interested in a fair, objective critique of the job he has done as the Secretary of Defense (or as Hugh Hewitt suggested on air yesterday, we should change the Department of Defense back to the Department of War - it certainly seems more fittinng). They simply want to be able to portray this President in as negative a light as possible and that means also negatively portraying his surrogates such as Secretary Rumsfeld.

Perhaps it would be more informative to find out what our military personnel and their families think of Secretary Rumsfeld. This e-mail from the father of a Marine Lance Corporal serving in Iraq that was sent to the guys over at Powerline offers some terrific insight. He offered these thoughts in response to the "autopen" controversy:

If [our son] had been killed, we would have been first informed by a visit - in dress blues - from a condolence team typically consisting of two Marines and one Navy Chaplain. We know many families who've received that knock on the door. No letter is required. No words are required. A simple peek thru the view hole in the door and the sight of dress blue blouses, white covers and white gloves tells you all you ever need to know. A letter of condolence from the SecDef is, honestly, not even worth opening. Families are much more interested in hearing from the men who served with their son and from their families. We share the constant knowledge and fear that it could be our door bell being rung. Sec. Rumsfeld doesn't know our son. He's a Lance Corporal. He directs a machine gun team. He is a vital link in the line that protects our way of life. He doesn't fight for his country, he doesn't fight for the SecDef, he doesn't even fight for his mom and dad. He fights for the guys on either side of him and for his team. He fights to secure his objective of the moment, which he may or may not understand or agree with. Sec Rumsfeld doesn't need to take time from his day to sign a form letter of condolence and he certainly doesn't need to take time to figure out what the LCpl was doing when he was killed or what kind of a man he was. His job is to make sure the LCpl didn't die in vain and that only as few LCpl's as possible will have to die to end this war in a successful manner. (emphasis added)

But it's this Marine father's closing paragraph that sums it up the best:

Bottom line, we support Sec Rumsfeld. The people who are making a big deal about this have their heads up their collective a****. They need to have a serious priority check on what people in positions of responsibility should be doing with their time. They should also chat with some military families if they could figure out how to contact them.

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