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Monday, October 23, 2006

Serious People

At first glance I thought this Sally Quinn mash note was titled "Rummy's Other Hole", and after reading it, I can only say that it might has well have been.

Even though Quinn does get around to some bloodless sniping (in the ninth paragraph) at Rumsfeld's lack of an Iraq exit strategy, in the context of the article it feels tacked on. The whole thing reads like a facilitation memo, a set of talking points for the next round of cocktail chatter for the hangers-on in the society set. It's the elites talking to each other, while the 99% of the country not in either the power or the donor class look askance, if they hear it at all.

The main thing is that Quinn's analysis strikes me absolutely correct in its factual content -- Bush is keeping Rumsfeld on for now because it's politically convenient to do so. Rumsfeld's inane bluster and idiotic habit of asking himself smartass questions every chance he gets draws some of the targeted fire away from Bush, which makes Rummy just valuable enough to not have to bother locking horns with Cheney over cutting Rummy loose.

Nor, I fear, would firing Rumsfeld actually solve much of anything. This originated as a problem of planning, knowledge, and overall strategy. It really does appear that the neocons didn't just chug their own kool-aid, they swam laps in a vat of it. They believed so seriously that within a year or two of deposing Hussein's vile thugocracy, Iraqis would erect a statue of George W. Bush in its largest civic plaza and commission patriotic songs about him for the next generations to sing, that they didn't even bother with so much as a pro forma contingency plan. It doesn't even seem to have occurred to any of them that as awful as Saddam was, the fact of the matter is that he was keeping a lid on some brutal factions of violent thugs. So now instead of one medium-sized thug in a relative box, we are now refereeing an increasingly violent onslaught between several smaller thugs.

Which means it's now too late for planning, knowledge, and strategy. It's just a matter of finding the least mendacious way to just bow out and let the Iranians partition the place. So it's political, which is normally right up Chimpco's alley -- it's not just their strong suit, it's their only suit.

But there's nothing on the horizon indicating any remotely advantageous political aspect to this, so they're stuck. Their next option would seem to be replacing Rumsfeld with Joe Lieberman, a cynical rope-a-dope of faux bipartisanship that would please nobody and accomplish nothing.

I suppose I find it oddly amusing that people who are purported to be "serious" and "legitimate", and who have parochial advantages in the embarrassingly intertwined spheres of politics and journalism, can still manage to discuss these topics in this dryly mannered style, as if it was just another personnel management decision. I realize that Quinn can't just insult these people, because she's likely to see them and/or their staffers at the next swanky do.

But it's a reckless imputation to smugly assert that we need to shift all the blame to Rummy every bit as much as Bush needs to do so. No, people might not wish to blame the sitting figurehead of their national mythos. It's part of the job description for people like Quinn to reflexively print the legend, rather than dig for the truth. But the fact is that circumstances militate stronger feelings about the players and their known deeds and misdeeds, rather than simply insinuating that Rummy's tired of being blamed unfairly for Junior's mistakes, so he's going to take his ball and go run the Red Cross or something. I don't buy that humanitarian bit for a second; if Rumsfeld gave two shits about what people thought of him, he would have acted like it by now.

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