Editore"s Note
Tilting at Windmills

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April 22, 2004
By: Kevin Drum

FACING THE TRUTH....Bill O'Reilly is sure pissed off at Don Rumsfeld. I caught a few minutes of his show last night and he was laying into Rumsfeld for being stubborn (quite a compliment coming from O'Reilly, I suppose), wrong on the facts, and unwilling to talk openly to the American public. Bill Kristol pretty much agreed, and some poor schlub who used to work for Rumsfeld sat there gape jawed, trying feebly to suggest that, um, it was a bad idea to change horses in midstream, so maybe we shouldn't fire Rumsfeld. Yet.

What's really amazing, though, was that as near as I could tell their eagerness to find a scapegoat was really motivated by only one thing: a desperate desire to avoid putting the blame where it belongs. With George Bush.

Consider: back in early 2003 Bush got two conflicting pieces of advice. Donald Rumsfeld, eager to prove that he was right (dammit!) about military transformation, insisted we could invade Iraq on the cheap. Evidence presented: laughable assertions that Iraqis were a peaceloving people with no history of ethnic strife.

Conversely, Army Chief of Staff Eric Shinseki and the rest of the uniformed military advised that we would need perhaps 300,000 troops or more. Evidence presented: detailed internal studies plus years of peacekeeping experience in Kosovo and elsewhere.

Whose advice did Bush take? Rumsfeld's. Whose advice did he continue to take throughout 2003? Rumsfeld's. Whose advice is he still taking today even in the face of massive evidence that Rumsfeld was wrong? Rumsfeld's.

So sure, Rumsfeld is obviously more interested in proving himself right than in winning the war. But why did George Bush take his advice in the face of convincing evidence that it was wrong? Why let him off the hook?

Kevin Drum 1:14 PM Permalink | Trackbacks

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