Wednesday, August 30, 2006

Donald Rumsfeld Shows Americans How to Unify by Dividing

In a speech at the American Legion's 88th annual convention, Donald Rumsfeld called for unity in the "war on terror" today -- by lauding the Iraq war, which more and more Americans view as a diversion from the war on terror; by urging Americans not to "take advantage" of their freedom to dissent by dissenting against the Iraq war; by accusing the media of allowing terrorists to "manipulate" them; and by telling opponents of the Bush administration's policies that they are "appeasers" who are "ignoring the lessons of history."

In other words: I am right, you are wrong; if you disagree, you are a terrorist sympathizer.

Matthew Yglesias, guest-posting at Talking Points Memo, is getting a lot of attention for pointing out, quite aptly in my view, that Rumsfeld's speech is the opening volley in the fall campaign:

For his latest trick, in a speech to the American Legion, Don Rumsfeld gives the full wingnut monte. America faces an undifferentiated fascist menace. Bush's critics are appeasers who don't understand the lessons of history who blame America first and hate freedom. The media is treasonous and a free press is a luxury we can ill-afford in this time of crisis. Etc.

This, I think we can assume, is the fall campaign. The idea is to psyche the Democrats out. To make them think they can't win an argument about foreign policy. To make them act like they can't win an argument about foreign policy. And to thereby demonstrate to the American people that even the Democrats themselves lack confidence in their own ability to handle these issues.

"Quite right," says Steve Benen, and it shows how weak the Republicans actually are:

Rumsfeld's almost-ugly tirade today wasn't delivered from a position of strength; it was offered in fear. With neither facts nor narratives on his side, Rumsfeld was left to simply pound the table, and hope that no one snickered at the sad rants of the poor man who doesn't know what he's talking about.

John in D.C. thinks Rumsfeld is lost in the land of the lawn weenies:

Donald Rumsfeld, our Secretary of Defense who oversaw the worst US military defeat in 100 years, and personally sentenced nearly 3,000 US soldiers to death in a war based on a lie, is now just making stuff up rather than addressing the real problem America faces in Iraq.

According to Rumsfeld, the problem in Iraq isn't that we're losing. It's that "some" unnamed Americans (who don't exist) want our country to "appease" the terrorist in an effort to make them like us, so they'll bring us lemonade, or something.

Of course, Rumsfeld has entered crazy land here, just like Dick Cheney did yesterday. No one I can think of has ever talked about the need to appease the terrorists. But in George Bush's America, when you kill 3,000 US troops for a big mistake and then aren't man enough to admit it, you have to come up with something to sleep at night - or to win re-election. So the Republicans are now trying to create an enemy within our own ranks that is to blame for their own loss in Iraq.

Even James Joyner, not exactly an out-there left-winger, thinks Rumsfeld is not making a whole lot of sense:

... Take, for example, this passage from the DefenseLink transcription:

We need to face the following questions:

* With the growing lethality and availability of weapons, can we truly afford to believe that somehow vicious extremists can be appeased?
* Can we really continue to think that free countries can negotiate a separate peace with terrorists?
* Can we truly afford the luxury of pretending that the threats today are simply "law enforcement" problems, rather than fundamentally different threats, requiring fundamentally different approaches?
* And can we truly afford to return to the destructive view that America -- not the enemy -- is the real source of the world's trouble?

These are central questions of our time. And we must face them.

Are these really the central questions of our time? Is there really serious debate about these points?

When you are a "doddering, senile old fool," and you're responsible for the greatest foreign policy catastrophe since the Vietnam war, the answer has to be "yes."

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