Editore"s Note
Tilting at Windmills

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April 19, 2006
By: Kevin Drum

JOB SAFETY....Will George Bush replace Treasury Secretary John Snow? As many people have pointed out, the biggest problem is finding someone of any stature willing to take the job. After all, why give up a multimillion dollar CEO job in order to be humiliated for a couple of years by a lame duck doofus who's just a little too obviously tickled by the fact that he gets to boss around someone with a PhD?

That's not a problem for the job of Defense Secretary, but Josh Marshall points out a good reason that Bush might want to avoid changes there too:

With Rumsfeld, or any other cabinet secretary, there's a related problem the importance of which has, I think, not been fully appreciated or aired. If Rumsfeld goes, you need to nominate someone else and get them through a senate confirmation. That means an open airing of the disaster of this administration's national security policy. Every particular; all about Iraq. Think how much they don't want that ...

In the end, I think the real reason Bush doesn't plan to replace Rumsfeld is his usual chip-on-a-shoulder stubbornness plus the fact that Cheney likes Rumsfeld. But yeah, confirmation hearings would be a bitch too, wouldn't they? After all, the main question would be, "What are you going to do differently from Rumsfeld?" and that would be a very awkward question indeed. Democrats have been tying themselves in knots trying to answer that for the past couple of years, and I doubt that a Republican could do any better.

So for now, Rumsfeld stays because Bush isn't the kind of man who can put up with a bit of short-term embarrassment. And our military will continue to pay the price.

Kevin Drum 2:56 PM Permalink | Trackbacks | Comments (51)

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Comments

In the end, I think the real reason Bush doesn't plan to replace Rumsfeld is his usual chip-on-a-shoulder stubbornness

Wrong Kevin. The reason why Bush won't replace Rumsfeld is because George w Bush is the decider on Rumsfeld. Not six retired has-been Generals who quit because they couldn't handle their jobs and have other loyalties besides the national security of America. Bush listens to what others say and he makes the decisions on what's best. Bush has decided what is best is for Rumsfeld to stay. Removing Rumsfeld now would send the wrong message. It would be a sign of weakness and a lack of resolve to our enemies who wish to attack Bush and America.

Posted by: Al on April 19, 2006 at 3:09 PM | PERMALINK

I agree with Marshal (as I've said in the past), a primary reason to keep Rumsfeld is to avoid confirmation hearings, at minimum until after the midterms. This is one can of worms the administration simply cannot afford to open at this time.

Posted by: has407 on April 19, 2006 at 3:12 PM | PERMALINK

Al is right. Kevin hates America. Freedom, freedom, don't show weakness, embolden enemies.

We told you!

Posted by: Freedom Phukher on April 19, 2006 at 3:13 PM | PERMALINK

Apparently, Tim Russert was on Imus this morning and said that a source close to the President told Russert that Bush wont fire Rumsfeld because it would be the equivalent of firing himself.

Bush can't make any major staff changes because that would be the first step toward admitting he lost Iraq, and he will kill any number of soldiers and Marines before he would admit that.

Posted by: grytpype on April 19, 2006 at 3:15 PM | PERMALINK

Seriously, why even have a press secretary? Everyone knows exactly what he is going to say anyway. They could just reprogram the Al-bot and have all the "reporters" get their stories from that.

Posted by: craigie on April 19, 2006 at 3:16 PM | PERMALINK

Will George Bush replace Treasury Secretary John Snow?

Frankly, I don't think George Bush would do a very good job as Treasury Secretary. It's not like he seems to understand that much about economics....

Posted by: Stefan on April 19, 2006 at 3:20 PM | PERMALINK

If the case IS that Bush Admin doesn't want Senate confirmation hearings, they have to be balancing that against what their polls are telling them about Senate races in the Fall. In other words, someone has to be doing the calculus of how much don't we want the hearings NOW in front of a lapdog Senate versus how much we don't want hearings in front of a possibly hostile Senate post-Nov elections.

If they aren't willing to hold hearings in front of syncophants, they sure won't let anyone resign IF the Dems take the Senate. Maybe their internals are telling them they'll hold the Senate (not a bad guess, I suppose), but they are running the risk that if and when hearing are held they won't be held in front of as docile a group as they'd get now.

Posted by: blackdogred on April 19, 2006 at 3:23 PM | PERMALINK

It's not like he seems to understand that much about economics....

No, but boy does he understand the art of picking your parents.

Posted by: craigie on April 19, 2006 at 3:32 PM | PERMALINK

Another excellent reason Josh cited is no-one wants to join the administration right now.

Snow has been more or less publicly dis-owned as Treasury Secretary at the beginning of the Second term, but they can't find a replacement. Here's what used to be one of the most prestigous Cabinet offices: Secretary of the Treasury and no-one wants it.

Who in their right mind would accept the Defense Secretary job currently? or Press Secretary?

Think about it: why expose yourself to endless investigations, possible criminal action after the Presidency, or just the plain impossible situation in Iraq, the deficit, or US diplomacy?

Posted by: Samuel Knight on April 19, 2006 at 3:37 PM | PERMALINK

Will George Bush replace Treasury Secretary John Snow?

The only historical precedent of which I am aware would be Gladstone, who served simultaneously as Prime Minister and Chanceller of the Exchequer at one point in his career. Take from the comparison of Bush and Gladstone what you will...

Posted by: Baldrick on April 19, 2006 at 4:25 PM | PERMALINK

Here's what used to be one of the most prestigous Cabinet offices: Secretary of the Treasury and no-one wants it.

Who in their right mind would accept the Defense Secretary job currently? or Press Secretary?

Interesting point. Another thing to point out to those dwindling clueless syncophants who think this administration is anything other than completely corrupt and incompetent.

Posted by: craigie on April 19, 2006 at 4:28 PM | PERMALINK

Also remember, with Rumsfled in place we could still face an all out world firework display, the end of the end, the REALLY big one! Then GW and all the other chosen will arise with Christ on his second coming and all the right mega-conservative, religious fanatics will live and reign in the good lord's unity and power, forever and ever. Amen.

Posted by: Rich on April 19, 2006 at 4:32 PM | PERMALINK

If you Bozos REALLY want Rumsfeld fired, maybe you should make a case that Candidate A would get the job done in Iraq.

Without that, you have nothing but whining.

Bush has no interest in following the advice of ankle-biters.

Posted by: Frequency Kenneth on April 19, 2006 at 4:35 PM | PERMALINK

Frequency nails it.

Posted by: lib on April 19, 2006 at 4:38 PM | PERMALINK

Frequency - don't you know your draft dodging Boy Bush is THE DECIDER? No one, including you, could have anything to say to his agenda. Shhh, Bushie's thinking...must stay very quiet.

Posted by: Rich on April 19, 2006 at 4:39 PM | PERMALINK

Frequency nails me in the prison shower!

Posted by: BigRiver on April 19, 2006 at 4:44 PM | PERMALINK

The confirmation hearing may ask, "What would you do differently from Rummy?", but for all practical purposes the answer won't matter. Bush "The Decider" willl stay the course, and he'll simply order the new SecDef to continue operating using Rummy's game plan.

Besides, if Rummy steps down as SecDef, you can bet cash money that he will simply take up another post within the administration--most likely new Natonal Security Advisor--from which he will dictate to the new SecDef how to run the war. Much the same way that Cheney, Feith, and Rice simply cut Colin Powell out of his own job and then dictated to him what he would do and say.

Posted by: Derelict on April 19, 2006 at 4:44 PM | PERMALINK

Here's what used to be one of the most prestigous Cabinet offices: Secretary of the Treasury and no-one wants it.

I'd like to think that somewhere in the US there is a qualified candidate who would be acceptable to the Bushies, and this candidate keeps to themselves a non-team player, non-toadie, personality quirk. Once confirmed to the Cabinet, the Sec. starts to exercise some bureaucratic strong-arming in order to shift power back to the Dept and away from RoveCo. If the Tres. Sec. isn't cowed by the ultimate threat, being fired, then that gives him more latitude, for who would suffer most from the President firing the Treasury Sec, the TS or the President? Can the Bush Administration really afford to have the Treas. Sec. be a revolving door suitable only to ineffective, yes-man toadies?

Posted by: TangoMan on April 19, 2006 at 4:47 PM | PERMALINK

Another thing to point out to those dwindling clueless syncophants who think this administration is anything other than completely corrupt and incompetent.

Does it mean that tbrosz is dwindling? Oh goodie!

Posted by: nut on April 19, 2006 at 4:51 PM | PERMALINK

Frequency is right. Rumsfeld has screwed the pooch, and there ain't nothin' anyone can do about it. The Iraq debacle was a misconceived abomination from the day it was born, and no one is going to "get the job done" at this point. Hence, whining and ankle-biting is pointless.

However, I think a march on the god damn white house with torches and pitchforks might do the trick. On the other hand, most of my fellow citizens as well as the leadership of the opposition seem entirely happy sitting on the sidelines, raising civil objections and points of order. What is wrong with this country?

Posted by: Baldrick on April 19, 2006 at 4:53 PM | PERMALINK

Long time ago in the Land of Midland, young Shrub learned, very well, the theory of Bail Out Economics - Whenever, he would fail, and he did quite often, Daddy and Daddie's rich buddies would bail out Shrub.
So, all he has to do is find a country or countries who have tons of greenbacks and all is well. But, he has always said that it is hard, hard work.

Posted by: thethirdPaul on April 19, 2006 at 4:57 PM | PERMALINK

Bush can't make any major staff changes because that would be the first step toward admitting he lost Iraq, and he will kill any number of soldiers and Marines before he would admit that.

grytpytpe beat me to it. That's exactly correct.

Posted by: Paul on April 19, 2006 at 5:10 PM | PERMALINK

For Frequency and others - no matter what the Iraq policy is you need a competent manager to do it. And Rumsfeld just isn't competent.

You want to stay in Iraq? Gotta get someone who can deal with reality to make it happen.

However, at this point almost every sane observer says it's over. The US lost and will have to figure out how to get out without losing its army. And that task too requires a competent manager.

That's why policy-wise Rumsfeld - and his whole team has to go.

Also, on the foreign policy front, it's pretty clear our allies can't stand the guy. And we'll need their help to get out of Iraq.

And that's the painful truth that no US politician will want to say: we have to manage this defeat as best we can. And that's going to be extremely difficult.

Posted by: Samuel Knight on April 19, 2006 at 5:15 PM | PERMALINK

Can the Bush Administration really afford to have the Treas. Sec. be a revolving door suitable only to ineffective, yes-man toadies?

Why should that be different from any other position in the Bush regime?

Posted by: Stefan on April 19, 2006 at 5:15 PM | PERMALINK

kevin: And our military will continue to pay the price.

...and america too


we told you so...

Posted by: thispsaceavailable on April 19, 2006 at 5:20 PM | PERMALINK

Bush will never get rid of Rumsfeld, Cheney, or Rove. Except if they're indicted. Or if they die. Everyone else is fair game. But those three are untouchable. All the talk about Rumsfeld getting the ax is much ado about nothing. It ain't gonna happen.

Bush needs Rumsfeld now and not just for cover over the disaster in Iraq. He's overseeing "black reconnaissance" and will lead the attack against Iran. The way Bush sees the world, Rumsfeld is the only guy to do the job (since it's most likely Rumsfeld's idea in the first place).

Posted by: JJF on April 19, 2006 at 5:26 PM | PERMALINK

thethirdPaul: Long time ago in the Land of Midland, young Shrub learned, very well, the theory of Bail Out Economics - Whenever, he would fail, and he did quite often, Daddy and Daddie's rich buddies would bail out Shrub.

How much do you think those guys regret bailing Shrub out now? Incalculable.

Posted by: karog on April 19, 2006 at 5:27 PM | PERMALINK

"... Bush isn't the kind of man who can put up with a bit of short-term embarrassment."

Say what?

You are reading this punch-drunk smurf's personality wrong.

Bush doesn't give a hoot what you and I think.

My god: He is ridiculed and laughed at every night on Leno and Letterman. Our society chides him constantly.

Apparently you haven't noticed that there has been a sea-change in America concerning Bush. It is fashionable--aye, even de rigueur--to snort at him.

He is a laughingstock.
A walker-into-closed-doors.
The butt of every joke.

If that doesn't embarrass him... nothing will.

I think what you meant to say was this:

"... Bush isn't the kind of man who can put up with having to swallow his gall time and time again."

Really... what Bush is dying to say outloud is just this:

"Fuck you. I'm the boss. I'm the dictator. Obey."

But he can't say that.
Our democracy constrains him.

Instead... he has to swallow his gall every time some reporter throws him a question.

Personally... I just love watching the peckerwood burp on his bile...

Posted by: koreyel on April 19, 2006 at 5:29 PM | PERMALINK

Baldrick on April 19, 2006 at 4:53 PM:

I think a march on the god damn white house with torches and pitchforks might do the trick.

Heh... Shrek 3, with Dubya as Donkey and Trigger Dick as Shrek...Of course, the characters would be nowhere near as likable...

thethirdPaul on April 19, 2006 at 4:57 PM:

all he has to do is find a country or countries who have tons of greenbacks and all is well.

You mean like Saudi Arabia, the UAE, or China?...Naw, Dubya has already played the bailout card, unless you mean that he's hoping God appears and intervenes on his behalf...

...Which I wouldn't put past Dubya, by-the-way.

Posted by: grape_crush on April 19, 2006 at 5:36 PM | PERMALINK

Bushworld is a crime family and crime families never never kick out members. Rummy won't go.

Posted by: AM on April 19, 2006 at 5:37 PM | PERMALINK

Perhaps Lindsay Graham could call the nominee a racist and have his wife walk out.

Problem solved!

Posted by: Royko on April 19, 2006 at 5:39 PM | PERMALINK

We can't lose in Iraq,We already won our objective 3 Times,Why keep moving the Goal Posts on ourselves. We could leave tommorrow for cripe sakes DON"T YOU RIGHTIES GET IT WE WON LETS GO HOME.

Posted by: Booo on April 19, 2006 at 5:45 PM | PERMALINK

It's not like he seems to understand that much about economics....
No, but boy does he understand the art of picking your parents.

One of them, at least. (Have you read anything about the other?)

Posted by: Allen K. on April 19, 2006 at 5:46 PM | PERMALINK

In all of this, I've somehow missed just what Snow did to incur Smirky's grave displeasure. It can't be simple incompetence; that gets rewarded.

So what is it? Refusal to wear the kneepads more than four days a week? Didn't fetch coffee fast enough? Was silly enough to mutter just once, "You know you have to pay for this shit, right?" at a Cabinet meeting?

Posted by: shortstop on April 19, 2006 at 5:50 PM | PERMALINK

It would seem Rumsfeld has been an integral part of the dirty, dirty secrets and abuses of this admin - torture, illegal surveillance of civilians, abductions, deaths. It would therefore be highly unlikely 'short term embarrassment' is what is keeping Bush/Cheney and Rumsfeld together. With Rumsfeld gone, the horrors and abuses might just start coming to light and be exposed by the decent men and women at DoD who oppose them.

Posted by: Chrissy on April 19, 2006 at 6:34 PM | PERMALINK

It's a commentary on how far the subject has advanced that comments here and elsewhere that touch on 'nuking Iran' trigger essentially no comment.

We need to recognize that the fact that serious consideration of such a step has been under way for [months, years] means that the U.S. is led by people who are deranged.

It also means that the decline of the U.S. in the world, which had begun in the era 5 B.G.W.B. (5 years before GWB) will accelerate and the U.S. - not to mention the rest of the world - will never recover.

What does it say about our collective sense of morality that this idea is, if not largely acceptable, then not generating tidal waves of angst and outrage?

A short time ago I received one of the periodic e-mail newsletters that my congressman sends out. The newsletter invited comment on a number of topics. Foreign policy was at the bottom of the list and administration corruption was not mentioned.

Posted by: JB on April 19, 2006 at 6:53 PM | PERMALINK

A good post, JB. Who's your congressperson, if I may ask? Mine actually does inquire about these things, but she's in the minority, I'm sure.

Posted by: shortstop on April 19, 2006 at 7:10 PM | PERMALINK

I heard an inteerrview with an old repub turned bush hater Phillips? His take is that Bush is so driven by bornagain drivel and his need to retake the holy land that arrmegeddon is an option he is willing to take. Hope you all have a wonderful time during the apocolypse, I myself am stocking up on good scotch and fine wine 'cause with the current nutjobs in office the end of daysmay very well be near,

Posted by: imbroglio on April 19, 2006 at 7:26 PM | PERMALINK

I may just be playing the blogroll contrarian, here, but myself, I would challenge the CW notion that Senate hearing for a replacement for Donald Rumsfeld would necessarily be a public trial of the Bush Administration's Iraq policy - in fact, I would imagine that it would be a quite easy matter for the WH (i.e, Karl Rove) to spin the whole deal wildly to the Administration's advantage - the timing, of course, being keyed to the Fall elections - the only thing that seriously matters to BushCo.
Think about a likely scenario (sprung on the public suddenly, and seemingly spontaneous, but actually very-well-pre-planned): Secy. Rumsfeld decides to spend more time with his family: Bush, Cheney, Rice, the whole gang, get together for a feel-good "heckuva job, Rummy!" lovefest (with medals) in the Rose Garden: Bush sends up the new nominee to the Senate after carefully making sure that the Senate Republicans are in on the game - the new SecDef gets the usual Bush-Admin softball from the GOP: the Democrats get to make their usual noises: but, most likely to no avail.
The big problem is that any criticism of a new Defense nominee can really, only be a bash at Rumsfeld (and of course, Bush) - who, at that point will be yesterday's news, and, most likely, a lock on confirmation, as long as he makes the right noises about "victory" and "mission"; graciously acknowledges (a few peripheral) "mistakes". And the Administration's amen-chorus in the rightwing media gets to blare and trumpet about how misguided, off-base and wrong all the critics were and are.
Karl Rove in infamous for attacking his opponents on their strengths: what could be simpler for him than trying to turn a weakness on his side into a positive?
(and all just in time for the elections!)

Posted by: Jay C on April 19, 2006 at 9:51 PM | PERMALINK

I think a SecDef confirmation hearing would turn into a de-facto inquiry and referendum on the conduct of the Iraq war. The administration has been difficult or impossible to nail down on specifics, and that would be difficult to avoid in a confirmation hearing. Also, it would be of far greater interest to the man-on-the-street than virtually any other confirmation hearing in memory.

It would be difficult to contain, unless the Republicans pull a procedural rabbit out of the hat. The only outcome I can see for the Republicans is negative--something they can't afford. The only effective strategy I can see would be "We're at war and we need a SecDef chop-chop quick-quick. The Democrats are being obstructionists." That should be easy to neutralize.

Posted by: has407 on April 19, 2006 at 10:39 PM | PERMALINK

The reason Bush won't fire Rumsfeld is Iran. Rumsfeld is the person who concieved the plan, and probably one of the few in and out of government willing to use tactical nuclear weapons on Iran. Bush can't afford to loose him now, no matter what the political consequences. In fact his unwillingness to aknowledge the failures of Rumsfeld are due to this. He isn't worried about the Middle East becoming engulfed in flames - because it is his/Rumsfeld/Chenney plan. Read Chenney principles stated before the Iraq war: "When you can't solve a problem, enlarge it".

Posted by: Calhoun on April 19, 2006 at 10:59 PM | PERMALINK

Dont Make me come down there and slap you in the back of the Heads;

1993 Clinton--
Wolfowitz and other neo-cons are already starting to work against the new president's Iraq policy, arguing that it will be ineffective and that WMD in the Middle East -- a topic Wolfowitz has been thinking about since his academic days -- are a serious threat.

1993-1995:
The Debate over Bosnia
Another part of the world has grabbed Wolfowitz's attention: Bosnia. Some neo-cons argue for a U.S.-led invasion to stop what seems like the beginning of a genocide. Wolfowitz advocates arming Bosnian Muslims and complains that the U.S. has taken no effective action.
1996;
Wolfowitz has a busy year: teaching at Johns Hopkins, advising Sen. Bob Dole with Rumsfeld, and keeping tabs on Hussein, who has just attacked the Kurds in Northern Iraq. Chalabi, who has now known his ally Wolfowitz for years, begins to push hard for Husseins removal

1998;
With Wolfowitz as one of their leaders, the neo-cons go public with their letter to Clinton. The INC's profile is increasingly public, too: Chalabi meets with Congressmen and generals. Clinton signs the overwhelmingly popular Iraq Liberation Act, stating for the first time the U.S. wants to oust Saddam and establish democracy in Iraq.

1998;
Rumsfeld, along with Wolfowitz and prominent neo-con Richard Perle, signs another letter to Clinton agitating for a more aggressive policy in the Middle East, specifically in Iraq. Rumsfeld is also advising George W. Bush, who has started to organize a presidential campaign.

1998 Desert Fox Bay of Goats;
After U.N. weapons inspectors leave Iraq, America and Britain launch four days of air strikes against Iraq. CENTCOM commander Anthony Zinni reports that Hussein is almost toppled by the attack. That isn't enough for Wolfowitz, who pushes for all-out regime change immediately. Zinni, to say the least, does not agree.[Wolfowitz vs. Zinni]

2000;
Many neo-cons support Bush's rival, John McCain -- Bush has not been very clear on his intent to remove Saddam, and McCain argued forcefully earlier for intervention in Bosnia. But Wolfowitz has been influential in shaping Bush's policies and remains loyal to him.

2001;
Rummy THE ONLY ADVISER?
Rumsfeld begins to fight a turf battle with Rice, whose counter-terrorism chief, Wayne Downing, is floating war plans and hoping for more influence in the administration's decisions. Rumsfeld fears the National Security Council will start interfering with his authority. He sends a memo to Rice asking her to make sure there is only one "principal military adviser" -- himself.
-----
See Why He "Cant" fire Rummy. Rummy has been Holding the ACE the Whole Time,, Sheesh.

Posted by: one eye buck tooth [X^B on April 19, 2006 at 11:29 PM | PERMALINK

What is with Mel Laird sucking Rumsfeld off in the Post today. Is Laird on the payroll like Armstrong Williams?

Posted by: b on April 19, 2006 at 11:34 PM | PERMALINK

Did you know that the Department of the Defense had the Reconstruction of Iraq placed under Rummy and not the State Dept?
Yet Another 'ACE' for Rummy.

Posted by: one eye buck tooth [X^B on April 19, 2006 at 11:36 PM | PERMALINK

Yupp Rummy has got the Military Advisor and the Reconstruction 'market' cornered. And also a whole LOT of Bush Skeletons that may POP out of the Closet
Yay Bush CAN'T fire RUMMY alright =)

Posted by: Hamster Brain on April 19, 2006 at 11:40 PM | PERMALINK

Rummy: George?

George; Yes Mr. Rumsfeld?

Rummy; How do you Spell Abu Ghraib?

George; Um I don't know..Can I get back with you next year or so, preferably after I'm out of Office?

Rummy; That will be fine. You are Excused.

George; Thanks again, Thanks [Slobbers on self]
appreciate it, Heckuva Job!, Thanks again!

Posted by: Hamster Brain on April 19, 2006 at 11:44 PM | PERMALINK

As recent events have shown, any replacement of Rumsfeld--should he be replaced--would be within Bush's inner circle without any noticeable change in direction.

Posted by: Jesseaw on April 19, 2006 at 11:53 PM | PERMALINK

This thread was doomed right from the beginning. Al was Frist.

Posted by: Jay in Oregon on April 20, 2006 at 12:10 AM | PERMALINK

Even if Rumsfeld wanted to go--and there isn't any evidence that he wants to--there wouldn't be any change in policy if Rummy actually did go. So why should Bush be expected to ask him to go?

Posted by: raj on April 20, 2006 at 9:10 AM | PERMALINK

Jay in Oregon:

Huh?

I thought Bill was Frist???

Posted by: Jay C on April 20, 2006 at 10:39 AM | PERMALINK

Think of how much worse confirmation hearings would be for Rumsfeld's replacement on the off chance the Democrats take back a majority in this year's election, and consider that the situation in Iraq gets progresively worse withtout any signs of an imminent change. If they're going to do it (dump Rummy), which I doubt, they ought to consider doing it now when it's safer all around.

Posted by: Ed Fitzgerald (unfutz) on April 21, 2006 at 12:16 AM | PERMALINK




 

 

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