For us non-ditto heads, we wonder how the hell can the various talking heads of this administration (Cheney, Rumsfeld, Rice, Powell) say what they can say with a straight face. (And Cheney's desperate, divisive, rhetoric ? Don't get me started…) They can't even present a coherent front, since Bush is incapable of putting across both the broad sweep and specific strategies for the goals he wants to accomplish.
And now this memo. It's got something we don't expect from the usual gung-ho Bush II conservatives – introspection:
"Are we winning or losing the global war on terrorism? Does the U.S. need to fashion a broad, integrated plan to stop the next generation of terrorists?And what about this:
He challenged Pentagon leaders to consider and discuss troubling issues, including whether or not the United States was capturing or killing terrorists at a faster rate than they were being created by extremists.I'll grant that there's probably a little more soul-searching in the right in private, but liberals do it in public. (And that's pounced upon as weakness, but that is not the story for today.)
Rumsfeld would be the guy to do this. No matter where he is, he never quite fits in. I probably won't even be writing about this, but a few weeks ago I'd read about his days in the Nixon administration, when he headed one of the anti-poverty programs. (It's in the November Atlantic magazine; not online but a related interview with the author is available.) Nixon thought he was putting Rumsfeld in right field, politically, but instead Rumsfeld threw himself into the job and became an advocate for what the government could do to fight poverty. Rumsfeld was more of a liberal Republican back then, and advocated withdrawing the troops from Vietnam. But Nixon tolerated him because he provided the liberal view that could prove to be politically useful.
It would have been a little more, err, err prudent, if such soul-searching had been in effect two years ago, but since we're stuck with this bunch until 2005, I'll take what shreds of hope I can find. [If you want more jabber about this, Tacitus has a good discussion.</a>.]