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December 24, 2004

An Unexpected Addition to the Order of the Shrill?

Shrill Report: We now have an unconfirmed report that the latest Robert Novak column reveals the hidden secret that the latest convert to shrill unholy madness is the Secretary of Defense himself. Yes, the latest shrill unbalanced critic of George W. Bush and member of the Ancient and Hermetic Order of the Shrill is... Donald Rumsfeld:

Rumsfeld is often bracketed with the neocons, but that is incorrect. In a long political career that dates back to his election to Congress in 1962, he has not even been associated with the traditional conservative movement. In the run-up to the attack on Iraq, he was not aggressively pressing intervention by force of arms, but instead was shaping a military response to fit President Bush's command.


Posted by DeLong at December 24, 2004 12:02 PM


None of which prevented him from being an original signatory to the Project for the New American Century 1997 Statement of Principles. Who the hell is Novak trying to kid?


Elliott Abrams    Gary Bauer    William J. Bennett    Jeb Bush

Dick Cheney    Eliot A. Cohen    Midge Decter    Paula Dobriansky    Steve Forbes

Aaron Friedberg    Francis Fukuyama    Frank Gaffney    Fred C. Ikle

Donald Kagan    Zalmay Khalilzad    I. Lewis Libby    Norman Podhoretz

Dan Quayle    Peter W. Rodman    Stephen P. Rosen    Henry S. Rowen

Donald Rumsfeld    Vin Weber    George Weigel    Paul Wolfowitz

Posted by: Bruce Webb at December 24, 2004 12:15 PM

Novak is from Chicago and goes back a long way with Rumsfeld -- a former congressman from the Chicago suburbs. Obviously, he's playing bulletin board for Rumsfeld.

So the real news here is that Rumsfeld is publicly disassociating himself from the neocons. It doesn't matter whether anyone actually believes it - no more than it mattered when Mao publicly disassociated himself from some no-longer-favored idealogue during the Great Proletarian Cultural Revolution. It's all about sending the desired signal, in this case to the uniformed military.

The split usually foreshadows the purge.

Posted by: billmon at December 24, 2004 12:35 PM

Half the time, one can scarcely tell what Novak is up to (witness his pre-election, unilateral withdrawal column), and while there should be little doubt by now that Rumsfeld is a crackpot and probably a war criminal (the latter of which even the MSM dares to point out these days), at what point does the SCLM begin to lay blame where blame is due: at the doorstep of this president? Whatever Rumsfeld's crimes, he doesn't have the power to take the country to war.

Posted by: Robert at December 24, 2004 12:50 PM

This would be welcome news--if it were evenly mildly believable. However, I believe there was someone who quoted Rumsfeld's initial reaction to 9/11 as "Let's bomb Iraq. There are targets there!"

Novakula is a complete hack, as well as being a sell-out to whoever is buying his drinks these days. I have no doubt that Rummy would love Novak's version of reality to gain currency. Too bad the documented evidence shows exactly the opposite.

Posted by: Derelict at December 24, 2004 01:36 PM

Happy Holidays and Merry Chistmas all. -jonny

Posted by: bakho at December 24, 2004 01:54 PM

When lies don't work, lie some more. If there is a blizzard of lies one can claim there is a polar bear somewhere in it.

Posted by: Elaine Supkis at December 24, 2004 02:09 PM

--- Whatever Rumsfeld and Novak are trying to do surely can't seriously work?

--- The CBS News story headlined _Plans For Iraq Attack Began On 9/11_ says:

--- "barely five hours after American Airlines Flight 77 plowed into the Pentagon, Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld was telling his aides to come up with plans for striking Iraq — even though there was no evidence linking Saddam Hussein to the attacks"

--- Five hours was barely enough time to bring Bush round from his faint, let alone for Rumsfeld to start getting orders from him to plan an invasion of Iraq!

--- "Go massive," the notes quote him as saying. "Sweep it all up. Things related and not."

--- Does that sound like a guy reluctantly crafting a military response consistent with a presidential order to plan an invasion of Iraq? Bullshit! That's a guy getting ready to argue for the invasion of Iraq when the President bacomes contactable again.

--- As the previous commenter says, Rumsfeld was one of the origanl eighteen signers of the Project for a New American Century statement of principles. More relevantly, he was signatory to the letter to President Clinton that urged him to strike preemptively at Iraq:

--- "Given the magnitude of the threat, the current policy, which depends for its success upon the steadfastness of our coalition partners and upon the cooperation of Saddam Hussein, is dangerously inadequate. The only acceptable strategy is one that eliminates the possibility that Iraq will be able to use or threaten to use weapons of mass destruction. In the near term, this means a willingness to undertake military action as diplomacy is clearly failing. In the long term, it means removing Saddam Hussein and his regime from power. That now needs to become the aim of American foreign policy."

--- Like the man said, who does Novak think he's kidding?

Posted by: derek at December 24, 2004 02:55 PM

...and why the hell don't the carriage returns show up in "preview"?

Posted by: derek at December 24, 2004 03:03 PM

To repeat, Rumsfeld will have many Iraqi potsherds to categorize, and is probably at this very moment updating his skills in Tiny Writing.

Posted by: cloquet at December 24, 2004 07:15 PM

Isn't this Rummy's feeler for a presidential run?

Posted by: tjallen at December 24, 2004 08:31 PM

Five hours after 9/11 I'll bet there were a lot of folks who suspected Iraq might be involved, though they soon learned otherwise. So I find that quote suggestive but not conclusive.

I've always thought that Rummy was one of a class of "Defense Intellectuals" who followed in the footsteps of Herman Kahn. Although he might share some beliefs with the Neocons, he's got much more of an analytical perspective -- albeit a blinkered one. I'm sure he felt that the aftermath of a military victory was of no concern to him, which gave the Neocons free reign in developing their fantasy scenarios.

Posted by: modus potus at December 24, 2004 11:27 PM

" . . . begin to lay blame where blame is due: at the doorstep of this president. . ."

Exactly. It seems to me that a fresh-faced, toothy blond on CNN’s Open Forum summed it up for many Americans when asked if the war in Iraq was worth it: “I definitely think it was worth it. I think President Bush knows things that we didn’t know and I think that he made the decision to go ahead and as we chose him to be our president, I think that was a good decision and I don’t know a whole lot about it but I trust in him and the troops and what they’re doing.”

This is the kind of blind faith that Cheney was allowed to play on, and it's tragic.

Posted by: Steve at December 25, 2004 11:49 AM

The right question to ask is not "is this true?" but "why is Novak saying it?" I interpret it as a shot by Rumsfeld across the bow of his enemies in the White House: Rumsfeld is saying that he is not going to be the fall guy, and is not going to go quietly.

Posted by: Brad DeLong at December 25, 2004 04:22 PM

Brad, that's exactly the point. The only good reason for reading Novak is to find out who's feeding him a story and why. It would appear from this column that Rumsfeld is utilizing his old Chicago buddy to assist in CYA. What makes this interesting is why Rumsfeld feels the need.

Posted by: Arz at December 25, 2004 11:42 PM

" . . . begin to lay blame where blame is due: at the doorstep of this president. . ."

Bush's first mistake was irreparable. He chose Cheney to lead his VP search team and then incredibly let Cheney promote himself to the 2nd spot. "I looked and I looked and then one day I looked in the mirror". That single decision lead to the entire Bush foreign policy appartus, at least as it pertains to Iraq, being drawn from that list of signatories.

In my view Bush is a tool. He surrounded himself with a bunch of advisors with a preset decision on going to war with Iraq well before 9/11. They promised him the ability to dress up with all kinds of commander-in-chief garb and to beat his daddy at his own game.

This wasn't the original plan. If you look back at the list you see the original choice: JEB Bush, the smart one, the chosen one, the one who failed to win election the first time around and let George sneak in ahead. Oops. You can bet he wouldn't have been prancing around the deck of the Lincoln in a monkey suit.

But in the end it didn't matter. Bush let Cheney and Rumsfield through the door and we were going to war.

Which doesn't mean not to lay the blame right on Bush's doorstop. But this attempt by Novak to defend Rumsfield at Bush's expense by deploying the Waldheim Defense is just despicable.

(For those who don't remember Kurt Waldheim, he was UN Secretary and later the largely ceremonial President of Austria. Only after he left office was it revealed he had been a SS officer with direct reponsibility for exporting Jews (from Yugoslavia I think), his claim that he was just doing his duty led to an update of the Nuremburg Defense. Waldheim: "I Was Just Giving Orders".)

Posted by: Bruce Webb at December 26, 2004 04:41 AM