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November 08, 2006

Heckuva Job, Rummy.

Bye, now.

Incidentally, what I find interesting is that when I went to Wikipedia just now to find out who this Robert Gates fellow is, the entry was already updated to note he'd been nominated by Bush to be Secretary of Defense. Welcome to the 21st century, where even reference materials update in real time.

Dear God, let Robert Gates be competent.

Posted by john at November 8, 2006 01:13 PM

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Adam Rakunas | November 8, 2006 01:19 PM

Well, with the bar so low, how can Gates be any worse?

...oh, crap. I said it out loud. Hello, Iran!

Brandon | November 8, 2006 01:20 PM

Holy frak. Pinch me I'm dreaming. It's like Christmas came early.

Steve Buchheit | November 8, 2006 01:27 PM

Listening to the press conference now. Wow, watch those wheels come off the bus.

Heather | November 8, 2006 01:32 PM

Yippy Skippy!!!!! It's about time!

MikeB | November 8, 2006 01:33 PM

Now come on John - the guy was an Eagle Scout for frack's sake. How could he be anything but competent?

Call Me Ishmael | November 8, 2006 01:53 PM

I was at Texas A&M for the start of Gates' tenure as president there. He was a creative and extremely competent leader who resisted the temptation to pander to a vocal and extremely socially conservative alumni.

When the hopwood decision came down prohibiting

Texas universities from considering race in admissions, he addressed the problem -- and TAMU's ongoing and protracted problem attracting minority students -- by raising the minimum admission requirements for the school. This put more students into provisional admission where the university could again consider race. All this while doing away with considering whether applicants were legacies.

This from the Nov. 2006 Texas Monthly:

"Robert Gates helped win the cold war as director of the CIA, but that assignment was a walk in the park compared with his current one: bringing Texas A&M university’s unique but not always admired culture into the modern era and remaking the way the world views Aggieland—and the way Aggieland views the world."

As TAMU's president he was basically tasked introducing comprehensive institutional reforms into a university environment that was highly resistant to change. Sounds like perfect preparation for someone who, hopefully, can lead the Bush administration to confront some of the many hard decisions facing them on Iraq.

Chang who is inkredduloose! | November 8, 2006 01:54 PM

WTF?!@?!?@??@? OMG>@?!?!?!?!?!?! WTF WTFT WTF?!?!?!?!?



Could this day get any better????

JonathanMoeller | November 8, 2006 01:58 PM

Holy freaking crap, Batman!

There's something I never thought I'd see.

John | November 8, 2006 02:06 PM

Why would Rummy stay? I doubt he really wants to be investigated. Sure, Democrats would be foolish to waste time on subpoenas and investigations rather than focusing on policy, but I figure anyone with a guilty conscience who can is going to try to get out of the line of fire.

Steve Buchheit | November 8, 2006 02:10 PM

So, is it me, or did the President admit he lied bald-facedly to the press when he gave the quote on Sunday about Rummy and Dick staying on (for the original question and the follow-up)?

John H | November 8, 2006 02:14 PM

Except Gates was a high-up at the CIA during the Iran/Contra scandal, so he's not exactly squeaky clean. I guess Bush's first choice - Caspar Weinberger - wasn't available on account he died back in March. But Henry Kissinger is still available.

What I found amusing was when Bush said he interviewed Gates last week - hmmm, was this before or after you said Rummy was staying through the end of your term?

Jeff Hentosz | November 8, 2006 02:19 PM


It's not just you. He also said of Rove's election prognostication, something like "I must have been working harder than he was." Ohhhh, snap.

Stephanie Leary | November 8, 2006 02:20 PM

Steve: the AP story says Bush met with Gates on Sunday, so I'd have to say that's a yes.

For reference: Texas Monthly profile on Gates as the Texas A&M University president; Gates's letter to the university, sent out a few minutes ago.

Jon Marcus | November 8, 2006 02:26 PM

He already tried sliding Super-K in as head of the 9/11 commission, remember? That didn't go so well.

Steve Buchheit | November 8, 2006 02:26 PM

Jeff, my favorite quote was "this isn't my first rodeo." I gotta use that one.

Gari N. Corp | November 8, 2006 02:27 PM

And the wikipedia entry is already locked. That's the 21st century for ya too.

Bill Crider | November 8, 2006 02:33 PM

Check out the latest scandal at Texas A&M. Gates is probably thrilled to be leaving.

Nathan | November 8, 2006 02:35 PM

I had all sorts of trouble reading the last few comments here, what with the pieces of Chang's brain dripping down the inside of my screen.

Andrew | November 8, 2006 02:44 PM

Yippee, with one proviso.

The proviso has to do with concerns on weather he can be subpeonaed* by congress. My legal training (being a Canadian Lawyer and all) does not include any comprehensive knowledge on Congressional powers of Subpeonaeing* someone.

Does Rummy's resignation know prevent Congress from Subpeonaeing him when/if they investigate the Iraq debacle. If so, then it would be obvious that Rummy resigned to avoid the scrutiny.

Nice response from Call me Ishmael on Robert Gates tenure as head of Texas A & M. If accurate, then he looks to be someone who could do something to improve things in the DoD.


*Despite the legal training can never spell Subpeona correctly; I usually just guess at the vowels and usually the spell checker catches it.

Dan | November 8, 2006 02:44 PM

And somewhere, in the West, Dick Cheney is sitting on a log with a gun in his hand...

Steve Buchheit | November 8, 2006 02:52 PM

Wait, I have Bob Woodward's next title, "5-Yard Scramble."

Andrew, Congress can (but often doesn't) subpeona civilians to testify.

Andrew | November 8, 2006 02:58 PM

Thanks Steve.

Edit my response to an unconditional Yippee!!!


Bryan Price | November 8, 2006 03:07 PM

I fell over the first time I read about Rummy this afternoon. I thought it was a joke, because I was reading Bob as Bill (and yes the author used Bob), and I'm like, WTF does Bill have to offer to be SOD. And then I finally came out of my fugue and realized that it was Robert, not William Gates.

OK, so I'm a frakking nerd! :-P

Steve Buchheit | November 8, 2006 03:26 PM

Bryan Price, Bill Gates' first day as Sec Defense, "Let's see, first, this desktop needs lowered so I can sit, and two, where's the Control-Alt-Delete on this Iraq thing?"

Blaine | November 8, 2006 03:47 PM


Dammit, now gotta clean my keyboard from the drink I just spit all over it.

I needed that, Steve

Scott Mactavish | November 8, 2006 04:02 PM

we'll see Rummy and K-Fed on the next Surreal Life, now that they've lost their meal tickets.

Tripp | November 8, 2006 04:08 PM

Rummy is now freed up to fill the next Supreme Court opening, right?

Way to go Rummy!

Dan | November 8, 2006 04:14 PM

I'm just waiting for The Daily Show tonight. That should be a lot of fun.

Hugh | November 8, 2006 04:18 PM


re K-Fed - don't you mean Fed-Ex

Nick Stump | November 8, 2006 05:42 PM

Gate has been a pretty competent public servant. He was one of the three CIA Directors who actually came from an intelligence background. Barry McCaffrey speaks highly of him.

It would be easy for my fellow Democrats to brand him with the CIA baggage and fail to see who this guy really is. He's more moderate than Rumsfeld, and will probably make a good Sec of of Def. Probably not Bush's first choice, but certainly politcally expedient and not a bad choice for the country.

One of the big problems with Rumfeld and Cheney: They wanted to control the intelligence and pretty much used Tenant as a place to hang the blame. Subsequently, over the last four years, we've lost a lot of the rank and file worker bees in the intelligence community--not a good thing, regardless of our political persuasion. Hopefully, Gate will help fix what's broke here.

It's very complicated, and I could write about it all day and still just touch the surface. All in all, I'd say Bush made a pretty good choice. I wonder if he's starting to take advice from his father. This one seems like a Bush Sr. pick. wE know Cheney was against this pick and wanted Rummy to stay. So also we're looking at Bush out there on his own for the first time.

"Look at me, Daddy. I decided something."

Stephanie Leary | November 8, 2006 05:57 PM

Gates has been a very effective president at Texas A&M. Not a popular one, because he's shaken a lot of people out of their ruts, but quite effective.

(I had another post several hours ago, but it contained links and I think MT ate it.)

Scott Mactavish | November 8, 2006 06:30 PM


He's a Bush Sr. cronie and also served under five other presidents back to 1966.

Philosophically, a Bush Sr. Republican is more in line with Reagan than Rove, and therefore not a bad choice.

If I'm not mistaken, K-Fed is also a Reaganite.

John Scalzi | November 8, 2006 06:35 PM

Kevin Federline is a Republican?!? That explains why his rap album suckz!

Scott Mactavish | November 8, 2006 06:39 PM

Damn, sorry about that.

I meant K-Fed is a Parasite.

My bad.

Scott Mactavish | November 8, 2006 06:43 PM


Sorry for the off-topic post, but my publisher just announuced a new imprint. This is kinda cool, since many graphic novelists are discouraged because their craft is so narrowly defined. From Publisher's Lunch:

On Friday Little, Brown gave their press release about their new graphic novel imprint Yen Press to PW, and then earlier this week they started sharing it with the rest of the world. Borders graphic novel buyer Kurt Hassler has joined the line as co-publishing director, sharing the job with Rich Johnson (who was vp of book trade sales at DC Comics), and both report to Little, Brown Children's publisher Megan Tingley. The line "will focus primarily on licensed manga, but will also publish across the wide spectrum of the graphic novel market."


Gwen | November 8, 2006 06:48 PM

He can make all the terrorists use Microsoft, then give them all viruses. Or, better, revoke their licenses--since we all know that software isn't owned, it's licensed. Or give them a special version of Windows that crashes even more times a day than the normal one does.
"I say we build a firewall on the United States-Mexico border..."

Marc | November 8, 2006 07:05 PM

Laugh all you want; a lot of it is well earned. However, what I am sick of is the lack of guts that politicos from both sides of the aisle show in addressing our country's needs- failing infrastructure, tax code imbalance, poor education system, you name it- I haven't seen these items addressed in any serious fashion in years.


Eddie | November 8, 2006 07:49 PM

Rumsfeld fell on his sword for Dubya.It's all about somebody bearing the blame for the Party's losses and trying to set Bush up to regroup after yesterday's humiliation.

In the same way that Clinton had to make a course correction in 94 Bush must now be seen as willing to"see the light" or the '08 elections could easily go just like yesterday's.

I see the current predicament as being the inevitable result of a HUGE over-reaction to 9-11 that the entire nation made.As bad as it was, it wasn't a good reason to start two foreign wars.

Whoever is in carge at the Pentagon,the military will always respond with a military "solution" to our problems.It's hardwired.

If we need to use military force,we do better to bomb our enemies into oblivion than we do to try to remake them in our image.Our military is not the Peace Corp and it's not their job to make peace.

Steve Buchheit | November 8, 2006 07:54 PM

Marc, that's because the party in power wasn't interested in those things. They were more interested in corporate cash into their campaigns and personal trips.

Hopefully all the analysis I hear will keep with the Dems and remind them that the center expects them to deliver to the people, not just replace the seats. I think we have a good chance of that this time.

Tripp | November 8, 2006 10:17 PM

I'm thinking Bush may be starting to listen to Poppy more and Babs less which would be a very good things. Poppy has some sense - Babs is plain old mean.

Gordon | November 8, 2006 11:45 PM

As a soldier (currently in Iraq, no less), I'm actually a little worried about all of the recent developments. Not that I was a fan of Rumsfeld, or of the way this affair has been run from the start, but I have to question whether Gates and the Democratic leadership are going to handle this any better (devil you know versus devil you don't, I suppose). This is a simple process, but no one seems to get it:

Step 1- Identify our goals in Iraq. I'm not clear on what the administration's exact purpose is at this point; we just get vague stuff like "stay the course." (Or, alternately, "We didn't say 'stay the course,' we just said 'we're keeping the troops in Iraq indefinitely.'") I can't use that, I'm sorry.

Step 2- Given a set of goals, confer with military leaders on how to accomplish them.

Step 3- Listen to the results of Step 2. If your top general says he needs more troops over here, then give them to him. Hell, just keep extending 1AD- it's already a key tenet of the Bush battle plan, apparently.

Step 4- Have some patience. Stop requiring ridiculous accounts of "progress;" this is why our training standards for the IA and IP have been relaxed to ludicrous levels. Just let the military do what it does, and don't panic.

And that's it. Really. It's not a guarantee of success, but that would require a clear definition of success, which we don't have right now anyway. I'm certainly afraid that a Democratic congress will try to completely withdraw all troops, which at this point would likely cause Iraq to lose what little grip on law and order it has right now. Five years down the road, al-Quaeda is controlling the country, training camps for terrorists abound, and Iraq is more hostile to the US than ever before. Does that have to happen? No. Hell, maybe the IA and IP would suddenly become halfway competent and keep the country under control. You never know. But there's a much better chance of that being the case if we stay over here for a few more years, raise the training standards for Iraqi troops, and work to ensure that the things they've been taught are actually practiced, especially under fire.

'scuse me for ranting, but it's a subject that's kinda important to me.

PS- It's spelled "subpoena." I highly recommend Firefox 2.0, with built-in spell check. Screw you, public education! My web browser will do the spelling for me! Blah.

-SGT Pryor, somewhere in Iraq

Jon H | November 9, 2006 02:03 AM

"Except Gates was a high-up at the CIA during the Iran/Contra scandal, so he's not exactly squeaky clean."

True, but he seems to have gotten through it without getting in trouble. Which means either he wasn't that dirty, or he was highly competent and detail-oriented when it came to covering his tracks.

Both of which seem good enough for me.

I'd like to have someone at the Pentagon with connections to the grownups, so crazy Cheney doesn't have so much control.

Jon H | November 9, 2006 02:13 AM

Sgt Pryor:

Before you can get to your Step 1, there has to be a Step 0: Realistically Assess The Situation

If you don't have a realistic grasp of the situation, then you probably won't come up with a correct set of goals and sub-goals. And if you don't have the correct set of goals and subgoals, then you're going to be working at cross purposes with your overall intended goal.

I think the new SecDef and the Democratic congress will be a huge improvement on that front.

To date, there's been a vicious cycle or reinforcement: Bush wouldn't contradict Rumsfeld, Rumsfeld wouldn't contradict Bush, and the GOP Congress (and the conservative media) was largely invested in supporting Bush and Rumsfeld.

When Rumsfeld insisted there was no insurgency, nobody of authority was going to contradict him. Therefore, he maintained a flawed assessment of reality, and pursued the wrong goals.

This, needless to say, was not helpful.

So I think the new order of things won't hurt.

Matt | November 9, 2006 02:18 AM

Is it a coincidence that Gates will be the Sec. of Defense and one of his old nemesis, Daniel Ortega, was elected as president of Nicaragua again?


Will this signal a new cooperation with Iran and bring back the Contras to have a more manageable war than the mess in Iraq? Sometimes, world events take the most twisted turn.

Wickedpinto | November 9, 2006 02:53 AM

What little I have read of gates makes him interesting. To call rumsfeld incompetent is overly emotional.

Rummy took a scaled down military that he could barely recognized, (from his first time as SecDef) then confered with generals, commanders and theoreticians to find a way to make the best of the military that existed at the time. the fact is that in 2K1 prior to 9/11 and even after, creating a budgetary excuse for increase of military levels to a significant degree was near impossible, since we all thought we lived in eden.

Then, once the war started, he had to understand the lay of the land (will people keep volunteering? at previous rates? and such, oddly enough, they actually volunteered at greater rates, with greater rates of retention) before suggesting group expansion as a whole.

Rumsfeld was a victim of situation and policy, what he accomplished, despite sniping from before day one (there is an article from januarry 11th 2001, before bush was even president) that was talking about rumsfeld as a dinosaur, and arrogant, also they were bashing his success as CEO for, . . . I forget the pharmaceutical company.

You can disagree with what he was tasked to do, but he did what he intended to do very well. That is the definition of competence.

ajay | November 9, 2006 06:02 AM

Sgt Pryor: "I have to question whether Gates and the Democratic leadership are going to handle this any better"

Well, not to snark, but they're unlikely to mount another badly planned, under-resourced invasion of Iraq. So they have that going for them at least.

Q | November 9, 2006 07:11 AM

You can disagree with what he was tasked to do, but he did what he intended to do very well. That is the definition of competence.

He intended to have a messy occupation with ongoing friendly casualties that have not really abated in over 3 years and has led to the deaths of anywhere from 30,000 to 600,000 Iraqi civilians, with no clear criteria for success, no strategy for achieiving it , and no plan for getting out?

Wow. It's much clearer now. He intended to act incompetently, and he did it exceptionally well.

Go Rummy.

Steve Buchheit | November 9, 2006 07:40 AM

Wickedpinto, wow, that's one whole swoggle of re-inventing history. Rumsfeld tried to cut the military even farther than it was when he took office (his re-engineering process), which lead to his fishing for a battle plan that didn't involve over 100,000 troops, which he did by removing everything that wasn't related to actual combat. So once we "defeated" Saddam, we didn't have either the plans, orders, or troops in place to secure and pacify the place.

John Scalzi | November 9, 2006 07:48 AM


"You can disagree with what he was tasked to do, but he did what he intended to do very well."

Uh, no. Also, when things started not being things he intended to do, he rather clearly did a poor job of adapting and responding to them. Which is the opposite of competence.

Jose | November 9, 2006 08:36 AM

I suspect he won't make a difference. Iraq is gripped by a low level secretarian, civil war. And to make matters worse even the seperate "sides" aren't united among themselves. How do you stop people these people from killing each other? The fact that some of these militias are joined at the hip with the Iraqi government doesn't help either.

Blaming Rumsfeld is too easy. The allies made plenty of horrible blunders in WW2 but we didn't call the leadership onto the carpet because a) we won, b) the goal was clear and c) the cause was just. Neither of those three conditions are true for Iraq. Sure leadership could have been better but the problem was the mission was poorly thought out and ill advised to begin with.

Tripp | November 9, 2006 09:48 AM

To call rumsfeld incompetent is overly emotional.

Huh? Where I sit 'overly emotional' sounds more like "Rumsfeld is a damn so-and-so who couldn't hit the ground if he had a sailor to throw overboard and two Friedman's to do it in."

Calling someone incompetent may be a matter of opinion but it is not overly emotional.

Tim Morris | November 9, 2006 10:08 AM

Hey, Ajay -- Not to snakr, but the invasion made the blitzkrieg of 1940-41 look like amateur hour at the Jr. ROTC field day.

On the other hand, that the same military that practically invented Civil Affairs units and military government in the first place could so completly frack up the follow through --- well, snark all you want.

John H | November 9, 2006 11:24 AM

Rumsfeld wouldn't contradict Bush

There was a Rummy quote in the Chicago Tribune this morning that I hadn't heard before:

"Needless to say, the president is correct. Whatever it was he said."

--Feb. 28, 2003

Steve Buchheit | November 9, 2006 03:53 PM

So, just how long does someone need to be out of the office before they qualify for the President's "Freedom Medal" or whatever the bling is he created to hand out to his cronies, I mean the good people, I mean those who deserve... oh, never mind.

Jon H | November 9, 2006 07:08 PM

Jose writes: "The allies made plenty of horrible blunders in WW2 but we didn't call the leadership onto the carpet because a) we won, b) the goal was clear and c) the cause was just"

What do you think would have happened if we rolled into France in 1944 and got stuck there playing Nazi whack-a-mole for the next three and a half years without getting anywhere?

That said, it's my understanding that, yes, WW2 generals were dismissed when they screwed up.

Alan | November 10, 2006 12:02 AM

What do you think would have happened...
The French would be pissed? So no change, really.

A.R.Yngve | November 10, 2006 03:42 AM

Rumsfeld tries to get and keep a new job:

mythago | November 10, 2006 10:31 AM

We probably would have lost many more troops, Alan, and material, and wouldn't have been able to direct them to fight the Nazi menace elsewhere. "Look--the French!" as a distraction from criticish of the President doesn't work anymore.

Todd Stull | November 10, 2006 11:08 AM

Wickedpinto - Rumsfeld was a "victim of situation and policy"? Are you kidding me? He's the Secretary of Defense. To a large degree, he dictates policy!

What kind of alternate universe do you live in where Rumsfeld is any type of victim?

In my opinion, nothing I have seen of the man in print or on TV suggests he is anything more than an extremely stubborn neocon who is the definition of hubris. He does seem fairly intelligent and hardworking - I just wish he wasn't devoting that energy to such evil.

Nicole J. LeBoeuf-Little | November 10, 2006 11:22 AM

Wait a moment.

Someone waayyyy upthread said something about "instead of wasting time with subpoenas..."

Wasting time with subpoenas?

Would someone like to expound on how bringing the administration's misdeeds to light and reestablishing the rule of law is wasting time?

That "reestablishing the rule of law" thing is fairly important, and I can't see how that can be done with an attitude that investigating and prosecuting the administration's crimes against law is somehow a waste of time.

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