On Tuesday Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld delivered a speech at the American Legion's annual convention where he took aim at un-named critics of the war with comments like these:
We applaud Mr. Rumsfeld's comments, but wonder why he did not take the next logical step to specifically identify exactly who is the source of these dangerous views. As a public service, DWSUWF, with this post, steps in where Mr Rumsfeld fears to tread, and names names.
"any moral or intellectual confusion about who and what is right or wrong can weaken the ability of free societies to persevere."
"It seems that in some quarters there's more of a focus on dividing our country than acting with unity against the gathering threats."
"Can we truly afford to return to the destructive view that America -- not the enemy -- is the real source of the world’s troubles?"
William M Arkin at the Washingtion Post, gets defensive, and states in his column that "Rumsfeld is saying that he [Rummy] is the "who" that is right, and everyone who disagrees with him is not only wrong, but a danger to freedom." Arkin seems to takes this criticism personally, and proceeds to assert that Rumsfeld is the actual source of troubles in Iraq and the real danger to our American way of life. This is rather a petty view on Mr. Arkin's part, as I think Mr. Arkin fundamentally misunderstands who Rumsfeld is accusing of "dividing our country" and exhibiting "moral and intellectual confusion".
Keith Olberman took a similar dim view of Rumsfeld's commentary, dismissing out of hand, Rumsfeld's subsequent disclaimer that his views were being misconstrued by the media. Frankly I found both the enthusiastic fawning over Olbermann's commentary from the left (as exemplified by this post on Crooks and Liars) and the denunciation from the right ( as exempified by two posts by Cassandra at Villainous Company covering the range from snarky dismissal to disappointed melancholy) seriously over done and seriously over the top.
You see, I believe Rumsfeld when he says he really was not speaking about Democrats opposed to the war. He was talking about Republicans. Looking over the news for the last few weeks, we can easily ferret out just who these morally and intellectually confused Republican dividers might be.
As recently as the 8/27 Sunday morning on Meet the Press, we have conservative columnist Bob Novak and National Review editor Kate O'Beirne commenting on the war:
Kate O'Beirne: "Tim, it’s, it’s actually not so that there have been all these uncritical cheerleaders who support the war for years. We had at—National Review had an Iraq—a cover on Iraq before the November ‘04 elections called “What Went Wrong?”... The [conservative] symposium we have in this, in this issue, the first thing they reject, unanimously, is the administration line that things are better than they look. They’re not buying that argument, and yet the administration keeps making it. They all recognize and agree things are deteriorating. Some conclude we’re losing, some say we will without doing some significant things differently...they fear we’re losing this war and they don’t see a clear plan on the part of the administration to win it."Kate O'Beirne understood who Rumsfeld was talking about, and practically said so on Hardball with Nora 'Donnell later that same week:
Robert Novak: "I think the, the real question, I believe, maybe journalists ought to consider—reconsider, is not whether they—we’ve done such a terrible job but whether it was an impossible job in the first place and shouldn’t have been started."
NORA O‘DONNELL: "Welcome back to HARDBALL. The fierce fight over the war in Iraq is getting sharper and nastier every day. This week Donald Rumsfeld compared war critics to appeasers of Nazi Germany and today the president vowed to keep fighting despite the war‘s unpopularity. Here to take on this fight is the “National Review‘s” Kate O‘Beirne ..."O'Beirne was smirking and practically laughing when she said this. Note, while she specifically states that Rumsfeld was not talking about Democrats, she does not say who he was talking about. That is because she knows that Rumsfeld was talking about the National Review and her and the other Republicans critical of the war, who were suddenly all over the news.
KATE O‘BEIRNE:" ...You know what amazed me, first of all if you actually carefully listen ... Secretary Rumsfeld‘s speech is not actually what he did with respect to the Democratic critics of the war, he didn‘t so label them, but what amazes me is how the Democrats always rise to the bait. He talks in terms of World War II, warns against morally and intellectually complacent people and confusion and appeasers and what do the Democrats say, stop talking about us like that. Well, he wasn‘t ..."
More examples. In the same MTP show, Tim Russert quotes Republican Senator John McCain, from earlier in the week:
On Tuesday E.J. Dionne in his column "Slowly Sidling to Iraq's Exit asserts that "Many GOP candidates part company with Bush" over the war and identifies a few more of these "morally and intellectually confused" Republican "dividers".
"One of the biggest mistakes we made was underestimating the size of the task and the sacrifices that would be required. ... ‘Stuff happens, mission accomplished, last throes, a few dead-enders.’” Those are all quotes of the president or the secretary of defense or the vice president. “I’m just more familiar with those statements than anyone else because it grieves me so much that we had not told the American people how tough and difficult this task would be.”
"Free Republican" crossposting at "Say Anything" declares that Newt Gingrich is the de-facto leader of the conservative movement with this Gingrich quote:
"Rep. Chris Shays (R-Conn.), one of the most articulate supporters of the war, announced last Thursday that he favored a time frame for withdrawing troops. Shays is in a tough race for reelection against Democrat Diane Farrell, who has made opposition to the war a central issue. After his 14th trip to Iraq, Shays announced that "the only way we are able to encourage some political will on the part of Iraqis is to have a timeline for troop withdrawal."
In July Rep. Gil Gutknecht (R-Minn.) returned from Iraq with an equally grim view. Americans, he said, lacked "strategic control" of the streets of Baghdad, and he called for a "limited troop withdrawal -- to send the Iraqis a message." Just the month before, Gutknecht had told his fellow House members that "now is not the time to go wobbly" on Iraq...
Rep. Mike Fitzpatrick (R-Pa.), facing a challenge from Democrat Patrick Murphy, an Iraq war veteran, took a page from former president Bill Clinton's playbook by triangulating between Murphy and the president. A Fitzpatrick mailing sent earlier this month said that Fitzpatrick favored a "better, smarter plan in Iraq" that "says NO to both extremes: No to President Bush's 'stay the course' strategy . . . and no to Patrick Murphy's 'cut and run' approach.""
Mark Kilmer at Red State helped to ferret out yet another "morally and intellectually confused" Republican - Senator Chuck Hagel of Nebraska:
"Well, first of all, I think we have to recognize that the strategy which they have been following has failed. And I think it's important to recognize that, because until you're prepared to admit that this strategy's failed, you're not going to have the energy and the drive to shift to a new strategy."
Now, no one has ever accused uber-conservative writers George Will and William F Buckley to be intellectually confused, so we must assume that Rumsfeld feels that they are only "morally confused" when they write:
"He said that Iraq was another Vietnam, "total anarchy." He said that "the future of Iraq will be determined by the Iraqi people, just like it was in Vietnam." Hagel said that we were in a civil war in Iraq, there was corruption, and Iran was more influential in Iraq than we are. He repeated that we should begin withdrawing our troops from Iraqi in six months because it does us not good to "kill Americans and put Americans in a civil war."
Buckley in his National Review column "It Didn't Work:
George Will in his column - The Triumph of Unrealism:
"One can't doubt that the American objective in Iraq has failed... Our mission has failed because Iraqi animosities have proved uncontainable by an invading army of 130,000 Americans....He [George Bush] will certainly face the current development as military leaders are expected to do: They are called upon to acknowledge a tactical setback, but to insist on the survival of strategic policies. Yes, but within their own counsels, different plans have to be made. And the kernel here is the acknowledgment of defeat. "
It is abundantly clear who and where Rumsfeld is directing his comments. After all, when has Rumsfeld ever cared about criticism from the left? Why would he start caring now? The Rove strategy to win elections is always about getting the base to the polls - not convincing Democrats to vote Republican, but just finding more Republicans to vote. This was a political speech targeting the base.
"Cooperation between Pakistani and British law enforcement (the British draw upon useful experience combating IRA terrorism) has validated John Kerry's belief (as paraphrased by the New York Times Magazine of Oct. 10, 2004) that "many of the interdiction tactics that cripple drug lords, including governments working jointly to share intelligence, patrol borders and force banks to identify suspicious customers, can also be some of the most useful tools in the war on terror." In a candidates' debate in South Carolina (Jan. 29, 2004), Kerry said that although the war on terror will be "occasionally military," it is "primarily an intelligence and law enforcement operation that requires cooperation around the world."
Immediately after the London plot was disrupted, a "senior administration official," insisting on anonymity for his or her splenetic words, denied the obvious, that Kerry had a point. The official told The Weekly Standard:
"The idea that the jihadists would all be peaceful, warm, lovable, God-fearing people if it weren't for U.S. policies strikes me as not a valid idea. [Democrats] do not have the understanding or the commitment to take on these forces. It's like John Kerry. The law enforcement approach doesn't work."
This farrago of caricature and non sequitur makes the administration seem eager to repel all but the delusional. But perhaps such rhetoric reflects the intellectual contortions required to sustain the illusion that the war in Iraq is central to the war on terrorism, and that the war, unlike "the law enforcement approach," does "work."
The official is correct that it is wrong "to think that somehow we are responsible -- that the actions of the jihadists are justified by U.S. policies." But few outside the fog of paranoia that is the blogosphere think like that. It is more dismaying that someone at the center of government considers it clever to talk like that. It is the language of foreign policy -- and domestic politics -- unrealism."
The Republicans have a political problem in 2006. Rumsfeld took aim at the Republican "dividers" as the source of the problem. The source, the fountainhead, the center, of this "moral and intellectual confusion" that could cost the Republican party their majority in congress are the Republican "dividers" and their conservative fellow-travelers.
We owe Mr. Rumsfeld a debt of gratitude, because armed with this information, we now know exactly what to do:
Divided and Balanced.™ Now that is fair.
Just Vote Divided.
Just Vote Divided.