May 18th, 2009

GQ Dishes Aggressively on Rumsfeld, Rewriting the Second Coming of the Bushies (And Prepping the World For the Third)

by Philip Baruth

A very long, by Robert Draper on Donald Rumsfeld in the current online edition of GQ, and in many ways it’s pure political crack: lots of incendiary characterizations of Rummy by those who knew him best, Assistant Secretaries calling him every name in the book. And sure, read it during your lunch hour and enjoy. Few things taste better than the crunchy, toasted remains of Donald Rumsfeld’s reputation.

But don’t be fooled for a minute: this is active Bush revisionism every bit as much as an attack piece aimed at Donald Rumsfeld.

We learn at the outset of the piece that it’s drawn from the sotto voce tattling of “more than a dozen Bush loyalists, including several former cabinet-level officials and senior military commanders,” and not surprisingly, Bush comes off as relatively decisive and relatively caring and smart.

rummy, now long goneHis tragic flaw? Affection and awe for Donald Henry Rumsfeld.

The heart of the article’s revisionism involves, of course, Hurricane Katrina, the Bush administration’s Waterloo. Turns out, according to our Bush insiders, that it was essentially Don’s fault.

And author Robert Draper uses all the tools in the Woodward toolbox to dramatize Bush’s righteous anger and Rumsfeld’s obstructionism.

“Having only recently come to grips with the roiling disaster, Bush convened a meeting in the Situation Room on Friday morning. According to several who were present, the president was agitated. Turning to the man seated at his immediate left, Bush barked, ‘Rumsfeld, what the hell is going on there? Are you watching what’s on television? Is that the United States of America or some Third World nation I’m watching? What the hell are you doing?’”

Rumsfeld’s response is still obstructionist, holding back a troop deployment already prepared, and so Bush has no choice, in this stirring account, but to “cut Rumsfeld to pieces” and demand boots on the ground.

Expect more of this, as the years go by. Katrina was Rumsfeld’s fault, and no doubt the torture memos and push will finally be ascribed almost entirely to Cheney. Condi and Colin will take the rap for the Middle East, and Greenspan for the economic meltdown.

Bush will be left all but untouched, poll numbers climbing slowly but impressively into the low-40’s. More or less the minimum necessary to undergird a successful late surge by Jeb in the Iowa Primary.

Because that’s the two-fold strategy here, when all is said and done: all of these anonymous Bush loyalists dishing on Rumsfeld clearly miss the White House dearly, and would like another crack at the apple.

Which, when you think about it, very accurately described both Donald Rumsfeld and Dick Cheney back in 2000, when George Bush was just a likeable chucklehead talking about compassion and education and saving the world from Clintonian lust.