The one way street
A Bad Omen in Rumsfeld's Firing
By Robert D. Novak
Thursday, November 23, 2006; Page A39
Donald Rumsfeld, one week after his sacking as secretary of defense, was treated as a conquering hero, accorded one standing ovation after another at the conservative American Spectator magazine's annual dinner in Washington. The enthusiasm may have indicated less total support for Rumsfeld's six-year record at the Pentagon than resentment over the way President Bush fired him.
Rumsfeld had recovered his usual aplomb as he basked in the Spectator's glow. But the day after the election he had seemed devastated -- the familiar confident grin gone and his voice breaking. According to administration officials, only three or four people knew he would be fired -- and Rumsfeld was not one of them. His fellow presidential appointees, including some who did not applaud Rumsfeld's performance in office, were taken aback by his treatment.
In the two weeks since the election, I have asked a wide assortment of Republican notables their opinion of the Rumsfeld sacking. Only one went on the record: Rep. Duncan Hunter, the House Armed Services Committee chairman. A rare undeviating supporter of Rumsfeld, Hunter told me that "it was a mistake for him to resign." The others, less supportive of Rumsfeld, said they were "appalled" -- the most common descriptive word -- by the president's performance.
The treatment of his war minister connotes something deeply wrong with George W. Bush's presidency in its sixth year. Apart from Rumsfeld's failures in personal relations, he never has been anything short of loyal in executing the president's wishes. But loyalty appears to be a one-way street for Bush. His shrouded decision to sack Rumsfeld after declaring that he would serve out the second term fits the pattern of a president who is secretive and impersonal.
This is a point I have made for years, especially when people think Bush is going to issue a raft of pardons.
God knows Rumsfeld should have been fired, but the way Bush did it was, well creepy and slimy. Novaukla is right, Rumsfeld's loyalty has been above reproach to Bush. Yet, he was fired without any consideration, and fired in a way which couldn't help Republicans.
Loyalty means nothing to Bush, except when he expects it.
posted by Steve @ 1:44:00 AM