Thursday, December 07, 2006

Gates Crashers

To the surprise of no one, Bob "Team B" Gates was scooched into Rummy's SecDef seat. Once he cleans the skid marks off said seat, he has his work cut out for him.

The specific nature of that work is clearly still in contention. Whatever Gates' company associations over the years, he at least does not have the whiff of belligerent incompetence and chronic boobism that Rumsfeld seemed to bathe in before every public statement. So while Gates is a reliable lackey, that's at least a step up from a terminal fucktard.

But still, what is Gates' actual assignment? The usual smart set punditocracy and beltway insiders seem to think it's to find a respectable -- or at least, the least disreputable -- way of backing out the door, without Iraq then devolving into a Pol Pot-style genocide. They seem to believe that finally -- finally, dammit -- Junior will have to face reality and get with the program. Gates has already established himself in their eyes as a "straight shooter", simply because he did not lie contemptuously through gritted teeth and a cutthroat sneer, which has been SOP for six years running.

I have no idea what makes them think Junior understands or acknowledges reality, and his role in changing its course. Ordinarily, you would be correct in perceiving the nomination of an insider humunculus like Bob Gates as at least a conciliatory nod to political necessity, if not an abject admission of the need for serious policy correction. Finally he gets it, they think to themselves, and go back to sniffing each others' asses.

He clearly does not get it. Junior's idea of "working together" is everybody agreeing to do what he wants to do. Gates is the man who could putatively provide cover for such goals, if he is so willing -- which is the truly unclear part. Since he does not apparently espouse the flaming buffoonery of Rummy, nor is he a pigheaded ideologue like Cheney, Gates is actually something of a wild card.

My uneducated guess is that his role is to smooth Junior's uneasy transition toward (if not actually into) the real world, trying to mitigate collateral damage. And if there comes an occasional opportunity to burnish a nugget of shit into something to put on Fredo's legacy shelf, well, he'd consider that a bonus at this point. But the basic default mode here is to babysit Junior for the duration, so's he doesn't break anything else. Short of locking him in a room with a bag of pretzels, there's not much left to do from their standpoint. They'll kick the can to the next sucker to want the job of catering to nitwit evangelicals and pardoning turkeys -- which, when you get right down to it, is pretty much the same thing.

Perhaps the most interesting aspect to come from Gates' confirmation is the geniuses who vociferously dissented:

Two Republican senators -- Rick Santorum of Pennsylvania and Jim Bunning of Kentucky -- cast the only no votes.


Bunning and Santorum, however, were very critical of Gates.

"Mr. Gates has repeatedly criticized our efforts in Iraq and Afghanistan, without providing any viable solutions to the problems our troops currently face," Bunning said in a statement entered into the Senate record.

"I am concerned with the message he is sending to our troops and our allies around the world."

Bunning also said Gates "believes in directly engaging rogue nations such as Iran and Syria that are known sponsors of terrorist groups in Iraq, Lebanon and the West Bank and Gaza."

"I do not support inviting terrorists to the negotiating table," he said.

After Gates was confirmed, Santorum -- who lost his seat in the November election amid a wave of unhappiness about the Iraq war -- took to the Senate floor.

He delivered a nearly hourlong speech, warning of the dangers of not confronting "Islamic fascism" and its budding alliances with anti-American countries such as Venezuela, North Korea and Cuba.

"We are sleepwalking through the storm," Santorum said. "How do those who deny this evil propose to save us from these people? By negotiating through the U.N. or directly with Iran? By firing Don Rumsfeld, (and) now getting rid of John Bolton? That's going to solve the problem?"

He said he felt Gates is not "up to the task."

I'm sure if Santorum had his druthers, Bolton would be just the guy for the job. Really, though, Li'l Ricky's just getting his street cred going, because he's going to spend the next few years on the rubber-chicken circuit, soaking up laundered honoraria for cheerleading to the inbred CPAC crowd. Bunning, on the other hand, is just an idiot. Some things never change.

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