It’s flattering to find yourself thinking along the same lines as Greg at Belgravia Dispatch, one of the most thoughtful and informed bloggers out there.
I recently asked a very high level former national security player who, given that Bush has seemingly deputized the entire prosecution of the Iraq war to Rumsfeld, could be brought in in his place (just if, by some miracle, Bush was finally able to wean himself from his sad dependency on Rumsfeld). He said that was an excellent question, paused for a good while, and appeared to draw blanks at first. McCain would never take it (nor would Bush offer him the job), given his highly visible senatorial perch. And why should he come in and clean up Rummy’s mess anyway? Some retired military officials would make sense, but this would cross critical red-lines given the hugely important factor of ensuring the military be seen to fully remain under civilian control. We were both left with Sam Nunn.
After listing the reasons for Nunn, Greg notes, “Of course, Bush appears to lack Reagan’s good sense to pursue a thorough house-cleaning, by replacing his Chief of Staff, so as to then orchestrate putting new people at the head of key positions like SecDef.”
Right. Remember when everyone was talking about George W. Bush as Henry V? Prince Hal in the White House, the ne’er-do-well son who becomes a leader of men. Now we have Bush as Richard II, wasting his country’s resources and lavishing dukedoms on “favorites” — advisors who give him bad advice and who ought to be sent packing, and who are so loathed by the common people, and the wiser heads in the government, that a revolt breaks out.
What I wish he would do is clean house at the top.
Considered from a purely political perspective (as contemptible as that is), now would be a good time; the situation in Iraq has made enough progress that a change of guard won’t seem like a panic move or a repudiation of the project. The vocal anti-war critics have been thrown on the defensive by a surprise burst of historical correction. And there’s enough time before the next election for members of a new cabinet to establish themselves as viable GOP leadership.
But it needn’t be a partisan job. Greg suggests an across-the-aisle choice, which would be an excellent idea. As Joe Lieberman pointed out in the column Denise quoted below, true war presidents govern from the center, if there is one.