THE BLOG

Rummy Plays His Own Card

05/25/2011 12:00 pm ET

Yesterday, there was another earthquake, the conjoined twins were split asunder. Dick Cheney is said to have lost the internal battle to keep Don Rumsfeld whom, it must be supposed, he depends upon for much of his information, and who has helped him bring the career people in government to heel.

There is, however, another explanation for Rumsfeld's departure than his multiple failures, than Bush's desire for "new eyes to look at the Iraq War", and than the ascendancy of his father's people over the neocons, as has been suggested in the press. This argument is not based upon "sources close to the Administration", but rather trying to put the most logical explanation together for all of the events surrounding the event.

The Democratic victory in the elections was the setting, but not because Bush/Cheney suddenly realized their policies were a disaster or that the American people had turned against them. That was obvious for a long, long time, even though they would not admit it.

Consider, however, what Rumsfeld faced, and the implications for Cheney. Imagine Rumsfeld testifying before the House and Senate Armed Services Committees with Democrats holding the gavel. The Republican Chairs coddled Rumsfeld by limiting his time at the hearings, not following up with questions, not forcing him to provide uncomfortable facts. With Democrats in control, simple questions such as: "Can you describe how the decision was made not to protect, or blow up, the ammunition dumps?" "Who decided that the Powell Doctrine, overwhelming force, would be replaced by "the bare minimum number of troops we think might win, for what you call the most important theater in the war on terror"? "What information did Dick Cheney rely upon when he said the insurgency with in its "last throes"? "You have always said the generals decide how many troops they need to accomplish the mission. What is that mission? To secure the electricity grid? To secure the ammo dumps? To secure the pipelines? To disarm militias? Just what definition of "mission" were the generals responding to?" "What process was used to give contracts to Halliburton?" "When $9 billion was reported missing in Iraq, what did you do to find out what happened to taxpayers' money?" The list is almost infinite.

My guess is that Rumsfeld had the option to stay or go. Bush called Robert Gates when he realized that there may very well be a tide, and that Rumsfeld had expressed a "reluctance" to stay for those inevitable hearings. Had, somehow, the Republicans remained in control of both houses, the likelihood is that Rumsfeld would have stayed. Karl Rove was telling Bush he had 68 polls he was watching, and that retaining control was possible. Note the Iraq War was the same in both cases, and thus the case for "new eyes needed" is not strong. Moreover, it explains why Bush was willing to make a complete idiot out of himself (again) by pronouncing Rumsfeld as doing a "fantastic job" just a few days ago. Had Rumsfeld stayed, he needed that degree of unreality to justify it.

Rumsfeld, thus, went on his own volition, to protect his own hide. Bush was not "taking control" and "sticking it to Dick Cheney". Once the Congress could no longer coddle him, Rumsfeld the courageous warrior bowed out. Rather than facing the slings and arrows of Members of Congress, for his arrogant incompetence, and for which he shares the blame for deaths and dismemberment of American soldiers, he took the cowardly way out. Surprised?

Instead of dying by 10,000 cuts in public, Don Rumsfeld can now do that in private....until, of course, Bush awards him the Presidential Medal of Freedom to take his place with Tommy Franks, Paul Bremer and George Tenet who all did a "heckuva job" too.