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Thursday, November 2, 2006
So, What Does That Say About the Base?
By Dr. Steven Taylor @ 8:41 am

Via the NYT: Bush Works to Solidify Base With a Defense of Rumsfeld

With less than a week before the election, President Bush sought to rally Republican voters on Wednesday with a vigorous defense of the war in Iraq and a vow to keep Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld in office until the end of Mr. Bush’s term.

To me this says strange things about the way that President Bush sees the current situation and if the author of the NYT piece is correct, it also says something strange about the “base” of the GOP at the moment.

Let’s recap: the war in Iraq has not gone anywhere near as was expected in terms of the post-invasion phase, which now over three years old. One of the chief architects of the strategy regarding both the size of the force needed to secure Iraq and the processes necessary to rebuild Iraq is Donald Rumsfeld. He was wrong about the size of the force needed in the first place, and was quite public about the fact that he was right and others were wrong on the subject. He was wrong about what to do in the immediate aftermath of the invasion. He was wrong about the insurgency. He was wrong just the other day when he said that there was “no daylight” between the US and the Iraqi governments over what to do in Iraq.

While it would be radically simplistic to state that replacing Rumsfeld would solve all of these problems, or to say that he is solely responsible. However, he has been a key leader and policymaker in a policy area that is fraught with failure. As such, pledging to keep Rumsfeld at this point is hardly impressive. Even from a political point of view, given that Iraq is the key issue on the minds of voters, I am not sure how pledging to keep the same team on the field despite incessant errors is supposed to inspire confidence.

Loyalty is as well and good, but it certainly appears that Bush has turned that virtue into a vice.

And, if keeping Rumsfeld indeed is a rallying point for the base of the Republican Party, then the base has become slavish in its dedication to the Bush administration.

One can make an argument that if the President wants to keep Rumsfeld, he has the right to do so, even if doing so is a legitimate point of criticism. However, it is amazing to me that at this point that anyone would be excited by the fact that Rumsfeld is to remain.


  1. Yea, After reading the NYTimes article, I am still wondering who they are referring to when they talk about Bush’s “base”?

    Rummy’s approval ratings are around 35%–less than Bush’s. I would think that it would be smarter–from a political standpoint–to sack him. That 35% is unlikely to vote Dems any way.

    I think the main reason he keeps Rummy on is because Bush’s own reputation is tied up in Rumsfeld. And by keeping him and not admitting failure, he tries to show some “resolve”. Unfortunately, for Bush, “resolve” on failiing policy isn’t very convincing to the vast majority of the american electorate.

    Comment by Ratoe — Thursday, November 2, 2006 @ 11:47 am

  2. Prepare to be amazed then.
    Given that most alternate candidates would have kept the Saadam era Army in situ, I am pleased. State and CIA performed pretty badly. Defense has done relatively well in the firled. cf the multiple affairs du Chalabi, the decision not to create a government in exile and the decision not to have a system for first past the post voting ready to go, all of which arguments Rummy and Defense lost, to my mind, unfortunately.

    Comment by Honza Prchal — Thursday, November 2, 2006 @ 1:10 pm

  3. Color me amazed, I suppose.

    While I fully understand that the world does not all share my opinion of things, I have a hard time seeing any justification for giving Rumsfeld high marks on the Iraq situation.

    Comment by Dr. Steven Taylor — Thursday, November 2, 2006 @ 1:24 pm

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