Saturday, April 15, 2006

Where Have You Gone, Lord Carrington?

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Lord Carrington

How the mighty have fallen! It seems like only yesterday that Donald Rumsfeld was a media darling. In the Fall of 2001, National Review put Rummy on its cover and called him "The Stud." Inside, Jay Nordlinger effused;
Evidencce of Rumsfeld mania is everywhere, and it's mounting. Consider a few facts:
*Reports have it that people gather round to watch Rumsfeld press conferences the way the do Oprah.
*One Hollywood grande dame, hostess of a prized post-Oscar party, says to another Hollywood grande dame, "I'll call you in the morning." The second dame replies, "Okay, but be careful: Rumsfeld's on at 9:45."

And so forth. Those days have long passed. Today, only true believers, like those who leave comments at Polipundit and of course the Freepers, still support Rummy. Part of the essential narrative in support of Rumsfeld is that his critics among retired generals are all Clintonites. Rush Limbaugh dismisses Anthony Zinni, who was almost fifty when Bill Clinton took office as "an old Clinton guy." Some of the Freepers claim that the generals are upset because of missed promotions, but at least one --John Batiste -- turned down a third star.

By clinging to power at all costs, Donald Rumsfeld only is acting in the proper American Way. His tenure gives me a new appreciation of Lord Carrington, who was Margaret Thatcher's Foreign Secretary when Argentina invaded the Falkland Islands. Acting on the principal of ministerial responsibility, Carrington resigned. That rarely happens in this country. Public officials usually hang around for as long as possible no matter how badly they mess things up.

The time for Rumsfeld to go was nearly three years ago when it became clear that he had been wrong and General Shinseki right, about the size of an occupying force needed for Iraq; and when he was practically the only person in the world unaware that the U.S. military was involved in a guerilla war in Mesopotamia. At this late date, he might as well stay on. I doubt that the Republicans have anyone willing to be this war's Clark Clifford.


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