Sunday, May 17, 2009

His Own Private Pentagon

It’s not that often you’ll see me blast the Obama administration and cut the Bush administration some slack, especially in the same weekend. Yet this is what Robert Draper’s 10 page article in the new issue of GQ is forcing me to do.

The progressive perception of George W. Bush will be, I believe, bourn out by posterity. We had made much of the fact that “electing” to the presidency a man with no national much less international political experience came at a high price- Namely, by allowing his father, George HW Bush, to suggest or otherwise insinuate into his Inner Circle older hands such as Dick Cheney and Donald Rumsfeld.

It’s only natural and reasonable to assume that when you let wily old schemers into your Cabinet when you lack the skills and experience in policy-making and in delegating responsibilities (The same could’ve been said of Bill Clinton but Clinton, at least, was a master of delegating responsibilities to the right people for the right jobs. James Lee Witt, the former head of FEMA, springs to mind.), some serious skullduggery will be afoot. We saw much the same thing with Cheney and Rumsfeld during the Ford administration. But Bush’s official biographer wrote an article that’s an eye-opener in not only what it said about Rumsfeld but also Bush himself.

This vignette is especially revealing, one regarding Rummy’s extreme reluctance to committing troops to New Orleans even five days after Katrina made landfall:
Having only recently come to grips with the roiling disaster, Bush convened a meeting in the Situation Room on Friday morning. According to several who were present, the president was agitated. Turning to the man seated at his immediate left, Bush barked, “Rumsfeld, what the hell is going on there? Are you watching what’s on television? Is that the United States of America or some Third World nation I’m watching? What the hell are you doing?”

If Draper’s account is to be believed, then it more than strongly hints that the WH was being factual when they said that Bush really was “engaged” as they’d said. If George W. Bush did indeed refer to post Katrina NOLA as being a Third World country, then he was echoing the sentiments of many Americans who watched in horror as the news reports began rolling in of human corpses rotting in the sun, bloated bodies floating down the streets of New Orleans and of thousands packed inside the Superdome and Convention Center with virtually no humanitarian aid and supplies. Draper’s account would also suggest that Chertoff, then the head of Homeland Security, was also more apprised of the situation at ground level than had hitherto been believed.

Rumsfeld was the stumbling block that would hamper much of the rescue and recovery efforts, someone who would laughably raise concerns about the Insurrection Act and posse comitatus. But Rumsfeld is revealed in Draper’s piece to be an obstructing influence in other areas even after his “retirement.” What’s remarkable was that Rumsfeld insisted on being a road block in some of the few instances when the Bush administration actually tried to do the right thing, such as opening up a constructive dialog with Russia’s Vladimir Putin. According to Draper:
But what’s been less discussed is Rumsfeld’s effect on the relationship between Bush and Vladimir Putin. Bush began his presidency determined to forge a new, post–Cold War relationship with Putin, and a year after their June 2001 “sense of his soul” meeting, the two leaders released a statement pledging dialogue on matters ranging from bilateral investment to missile-defense systems. But Rumsfeld, who had also served as Gerald Ford’s secretary of defense during the Cold War, wasn’t on board. According to an administration official closely involved in U.S.-Russia policy, “From the get-go, it was clear that the Pentagon had no interest in anything that was in that document. Rumsfeld wanted to do the minimum and move on.”

Rumsfeld’s office cut against Bush’s pledge of cooperation and transparency with Russia on “a whole host of things,” says this official: the proposed Russian-American Observation Satellite, the Joint Data Exchange Center, plutonium disposition. By 2005 the Bush-Putin partnership had soured for a variety of reasons, including Russia’s growing economic swagger and America’s Iraq-induced decline in global prestige. But, the official observes, Rumsfeld “did not help the relationship; that’s clear.” Russia came to believe that the U.S. wasn’t interested in cooperating, and Rumsfeld’s actions “devalued what the president had originally said. It made the Russians believe he lacked credibility.”

In short, Rumsfeld hampered what could have been fruitful negotiations between Bush and Putin by superimposing, as with John McCain, an antiquated, Old Guard Republican, anti-Communist mindset over a post Cold War environment.

From helping to deny, even years after his retirement, the gravely ill Ted Kennedy the Presidential Medal of Freedom (based on Kennedy’s involvement in Chappaquiddick 40 years ago), to inconveniencing our pilots to shortchanging our troops in Iraq and Afghanistan to delaying the government’s response to Hurricane Katrina to souring vital negotiations with a newly-empowered Russia, to crafting Worldwide Intelligence Updates with Biblical quotes, Donald Rumsfeld in his disastrous second go-round as Defense Secretary looked upon the Pentagon as his own massive fiefdom. Not wanting absolute control as much as the appearance of being control, Rumsfeld did only what was expected and demanded of him except when it came to the outsourcing orgy that he’d announced in the Pentagon briefing room the day before 9/11.

Rumsfeld is not totally to blame for the federal response to Katrina or Iraq or of a host of other scandals any more than is Bush or Cheney. Yet Rumsfeld, says Draper, was more deeply involved, or not involved as deeply, as public perception had him all these years. He was a deeply paranoid and suspicious man who viewed the very creation of the Dept. of Homeland Security as a threat to his little fiefdom. And Bush’s single greatest sin could very well prove to be hanging on to Rumsfeld as long as he had despite the protestations of senior aides.


At May 17, 2009 at 2:14 PM, Blogger Bukko Boomeranger said...

Makes ya wonder what role Dumsfeld had in making the tinpot putzident of Georgia go after the Abkhazian separtatists in such a way that the wrath of Russputia fell on his head. And I thought that was all a show by Cheney and that jackass Georgia lobbyist who was advising McSame.

Now I gotta go read me the GQ piece to see those Rummy Bible quotes. When I tried the link from Frank Rich's column earlier today, it took me to the British version of GQ. I hope your linky is better.

At May 17, 2009 at 2:27 PM, Blogger Bukko Boomeranger said...

OK, just watched the slideshow. It's like something that Elmer Gantry would use to con Midwestern rubes out of their tithes, wrapping religion with patriotism with death. Especially the death part. All these Biblical verses, combined with Abrams tanks and F-15s and grunts with belt-fed machine guns. IS THAT YOUR FUCKING BIBLE, YOU KILLERS, THE ONE WHERE YOU WORSHIP THE GOD OF DEATH?!?

Jay-zus, the lengths that they went to to sucker the simpleton who was nominally the Most Powerful Man in the World...

At May 17, 2009 at 8:36 PM, Blogger Cosa Nostradamus said...

Now that they've finally sunk their own ship, the Repukelickin rats are frantically scrambling to pin the blame on someone. There's plenty to go around, but Dubya was the captain of the ship, and a particularly arrogant and deliberately clueless one. He gets the primary blame for EVERYTHING on his watch, from 9/11 to FEMA to WMDS to the Second Great Republican Depression.

Number Two would be Dumbya's Number One, Prick Cheney, the obvious "mastermind" behind every last horrific screw-up. I'm sure it was Cheney who picked Rummy, and supported him against Powell all along. He personally ran the assassination & torture programs around the world.

Number Three would be a toss-up between Rumsfeld and Ashcroft, and later Gonzales. But, as I said, there's plenty of blame to go around: These three amoral crypto-Nazi ideologues who damaged our country almost beyond repair should get decades in prison, each.

The cause and the solution for all this come down to one thing: Prosecution. If Nixon and Company had all been prosecuted, and legally forbidden to ever hold office again, Rumsfeld, Cheney and dozens of other career Fascist criminals could never have retaken power.

If we don't prosecute Bushco now, the same goddamned thing will happen in ten or twenty years, when the Repukes come crawling out from under their rocks again. There's a whole new generation of Cheney's and Rumsfeld's who have been trained and set loose by them. They'll be back, guaranteed. Some are working for Obama now.

Obama is showing signs of enjoying the powers and privileges, including immunity from all laws, that looks way too Nixonian or Bushy. By placing any of them above the law, we give them carte blanche to do any inhuman thing in any inhumane manner they want, and ride off into the sunset yodeling. This has to stop right now. The bastards must be prosecuted. Now.

At May 18, 2009 at 8:09 PM, Blogger Bukko Boomeranger said...

You know what would make a good campaign slogan, Cosa Nostradamus? If someone ran on the line: "Prosecute the Guilty!" I'd like to see that o posters, campaign buttons; to hear it in a stern voice on TV ads...

At May 18, 2009 at 10:54 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

If someone ran on the line: "Prosecute the Guilty!" I'd like to see that o posters, campaign buttons; to hear it in a stern voice on TV ads...

You both need help, we are in control of the tv/media and will do as we say.
The Mass Just Follow Along.
Thanks JP and Commentors.


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