"From Hell's Heart, I Stab At Thee!"

On Not-So-Moderate Voices

By Pejman Yousefzadeh Posted in Comments (6) / Email this page » / Leave a comment »

The So-Called Moderate Voice (hereinafter referred to as "TSCMV") has a post which takes as its starting point this story stating that Donald Rumsfeld needed help getting on an escalator, needed to have his elbow held and "looked old." By TSCMV's own admission, this is a "gossipy" report, but never mind that; TSCMV takes the report at face value and argues that the "stress" Rumsfeld has been under after having planned the Iraq war might have "crippled" him. From this, TSCMV fully embraces a non sequitur of its own choosing and wonders whether Rumsfeld will have "a [Robert] McNamara moment" in which he regrets the war, weeps "bitter tears" and becomes "haunted" by his legacy, the specifics of which TSCMV is more than happy to define for the former Secretary of Defense.

Well. When we consider that TSCMV's post was inspired by a "gossipy" report that featured a statement from one anonymous source, we have every reason to wonder why on Earth it is that TSCMV felt a need to write the screed that he did. No one is immune to criticism, of course and one can take issue with actions the Administration undertook in Iraq. Indeed, no healthy society can be maintained without this kind of self-examination. And just so that I can put my money where my mouth is, I believe that even though it was and is clear that the effort to topple Saddam Hussein could be managed with the number of troops that were sent into Iraq, it is clear that more troops were needed to keep the peace. Thus the surge, among other policy changes. And it should be noted that contrary to popular opinion, there was evidently a great deal of debate regarding this issue at the highest levels of government; among the many things that we learn from Stephen Hayes's recent biography of Vice President Cheney is that the Vice President advocated having more troops in Iraq. I agree. Perhaps it is at least in part an ex post facto agreement that is driven to some extent by hindsight bias, but it is agreement nonetheless.

These are serious and substantive critiques of the war and ones worth discussing. But TSCMV eschews seriousness and substance and goes instead for pure mawkishness. Why engage in the kind of dispassionate analysis that will improve policymaking when you can instead speculate about an "old" and "crippled" former Secretary of Defense who might have been led by "Ebenezer Scrooge" to have a "McNamara moment" that will cause him to "weep bitter tears"? The former is responsible. The latter will get you Sitemeter hits. And as far as TSCMV appears to be concerned, Sitemeter hits are ever-so-much-more important at the end of the day.

So I don't doubt that TSCMV rejoices in blog posts like mine that serve to enhance his Sitemeter statistics. And I don't doubt that TSCMV rejoices in the smug, self-satisfied feeling of literary superiority that must course through his veins after having written about the Tragedy of Othello Hamlet Rumsfeld. Very poetic indeed, if baseless speculation, leaping to conclusions and using clichés like they are going out of style constitute one's idea of poetry.

But poetry ain't serious policy analysis. Bad poetry even less so. And while TSCMV may have added to the mawkishness factor, he contributed nothing else to the national debate. As a personality piece, TSCMV's post doesn't rank; he only takes the time to set up a blogospheric straw man about an old, addled Secretary of Defense whose supposed physical ailments are the consequence of Salieriesque remorse. Perhaps if TSCMV would have forsaken melodrama for more tough-minded and intellectually interesting fare, we might have some genuinely important matters to debate about. Instead, TSCMV chose to disguise condescension as analysis. He cannot be surprised, then, to receive undisguised scorn in response.

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"From Hell's Heart, I Stab At Thee!" 6 Comments (0 topical, 6 editorial, 0 hidden) Post a comment »

Pej, you are on a roll!

“Republicans believe every day is the Fourth of July, but the Democrats believe every day is April 15.”
-Ronald Reagan

It's merely a compulsion that I have.

The Fuzzy Puppy of the VRWC. I've been usurped!

I never cease to be amazed at the revisionism and the rationalizations that accompany discussions here of the roles of Sec Rumsfeld and VP Cheney in the Bush Administration as regards the Iraq war.

My view is that placing these officials in his Administration was Bush's biggest mistake as President (and that's saying something). Rumsfeld is a brilliant man who was obviously not the right person to run the war in Iraq. Cheney is easily the worst Vice President since Spiro Agnew.

I realize it's doctrine here that Bush was mighty lucky to have these two geniuses in his administration and any criticism of them is verboten(I went through it last fall regarding Rumsfeld) but for the record:

I had two reasons for supporting the invasion of Iraq in 2003 (aside from the rightness and the necessity of the action): one was the emergence (a surprise to me) of President Bush as a strong wartime leader in 2001 and 2002.
The other was the fact that we had in the Administration in key positions Rumsfeld and Cheney. Both had already served as SecDef and Cheney had been SecDef during the successful Persian gulf War. Hence, I figured that they would be realistic and knowledgeable about the war, and extremely helpful to the President.

How wrong I was.

Three weeks after the invasion, I watched Rumsfeld being interviewed against a backdrop of typical Iraqi criminality and lawlessness. "That's freedom" he remarked with his trademark insousciance.

Uh-oh, was my reaction. If Rummy doesn't understand that the problem in Iraq is the absence of any rule of law, then how can Bush possibly be getting the info he needs to make the right calls? I've dealt with Rumsfeld eleswhere & gotten my head handed to me here. I'll go into it again if necessary but I'd like to deal with Cheney here.

My impression is that President Bush brought Rumsfeld and Cheney in because he felt he needed their national security creds and wisdom. As it turns out, though, Bush would have been better off without them.

Regarding the war in Iraq, Cheney is the source of some of the most inane, asinine statements made during the course of the war, incluing "The insurgency is in its last throes" and so on. It's not just that these are wrong factually, it's that they are unnecessary, provocative, and, worst of all, self-aggrandizing at the expense of credibility and hence, of the war effort. And irresponsible.

Advice. We're told in this post, for example, that Cheney was a big troop guy, that he argued with Rumsfeld for more troops. If you follow the link to Steve Hayes' piece, you find that there is no actual instance or record of Cheney meeting with Rumsfeld and saying we need more troops. So, while Cheney likes to give the impression (now, when it's shown to be the correct decision) that he wanted more troops all along, there isn;t an actual record to support this. And I'm afraid that unlike those who believe with religious fervor that Cheney is with us on Immigration, etc, I actually need proof.

There's also no record that I;m aware of, of Cheney arguing for changing our leadership, military or civilian, on the war, say in 2005, when it started to go bad, or in 2006, when it went very bad. In fact, we know from Hayes' biography that Cheney argued AGAINST removing Rumsfeld in November 2006.

We have seen that the replacement of Rumsfeld by Gates was followed by the replacement of the military team by Petraeus et al, and the adoption of a new strategy (the surge). I think we're all agreed that this decision by the President was the correct one. Historically, this will be seen as one of greatest acts of Presidential leadership in our history. My impression is that Pres Bush arrived at it pretty much alone. Again, come up with proof that Cheney was the *first* to back the surge or Petraeus. Or that he played any role in these momentous decisions other than saying You're right, Mr President.

Aside from poor to nonexistent help on Iraq (presumably his area of expertise) what else has Cheney done for Bush?? Well he delivered Wyoming in two elections.

Cheney was like an understudy who not-so-secretly thinks he should have the leading role. His term as VP was devoted to empire-building, self-aggrandizement (the most powerful VP in history etc)that undermined the President he was pretending to serve, paranoia, claiming to be part of the legislative branch and so on. Actual accomplishment, eg delivering on the Iraq war, not so much.

Only Bush, with his incredible loyalty, would have allowed two such egotists to dominate his Presidency. He woke up about Rumsfeld in 2006, finally. I have a feeling that he has figured out how much Cheney has damaged his presidency, but, of course, he can't do much about it.

If Iraq works, and if the Dems want to switch sides on Iraq and not be seen as wrong on the issue, they need new hobgoblins to demonize and blame. That's why Rumsfeld is being Leerified by The Whiney, Liberal Voice That Presumes Itself to be Moderate.

James Hansen - Scott THomas Beauchamp with a PhD.

Great act? Slaughter sucks.

Has there been any peace to keep since we attacked them? Abandon your fantasies. This is not good. This is not Right.

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