New Rumsfeld Memoir Settles Scores, Spreads Responsibility for Iraq War
“At its heart, it is a revenge memoir,” writes NewsHour senior correspondent Gwen Ifill in her Washington Post review of former secretary of defense Donald Rumsfeld’s new book, “Known and Unknown.”
The book certainly includes its fair share of score settling. However, many of the headlines coming out about the memoir focus on what it does not include. In his two television interviews on ABC News, Rumsfeld displayed little recognition of personal responsibility for the war in Iraq.
“Everyone involved bears a responsibility for the conduct,” Rumsfeld told George Stephanopoulos on “Good Morning America” Tuesday.
When pressed further about his responsibility, Rumsfeld said it was “as a participant” in a group of policy makers who believed the intelligence was correct.
“It turned out it was not correct,” Rumsfeld added.
Rumsfeld told Diane Sawyer that one of his biggest regrets was not having successfully resigned in the wake of the Abu Ghraib prison scandal.
In her review, Gwen rounds up some of the finger-pointing Rumsfeld employs in the book:
“Mostly, Rumsfeld is certain — never more so than when he is chronicling the deficiencies of others. His list of disdain runs long — from former secretaries of state Condoleezza Rice and Colin Powell, to Coalition Provisional Authority chief Paul Bremer (‘It remained difficult to get him to accept the idea that Iraq belonged to the Iraqis’), to former Army secretary Eric Shinseki, to former Joint Chiefs chairman Hugh Shelton, Powell aide Richard Armitage, Sen. John McCain and, of course, the news media.
“The most consistent censure is reserved for Powell, Rice and anyone who operated in their diplomatic orbit. Powell and his supporters, he writes, were skeptical of the administration’s initiatives to the point of disloyalty. Apparently, it did not help that Democrats like then-Delaware Sen. Joe Biden described Powell to a newspaper reporter as a ‘good guy,’ but Rumsfeld as a ‘unilateralist.’”
How Iraq looks 50 years from now will do far more to write the definitive history of President George W. Bush’s decision to go to war in Iraq than will any of the memoirs from the various players.
But Rumsfeld has made it clear that he sees little in hindsight that would have altered his approach as a member of President Bush’s war cabinet.
HEALTH CARE GROUNDHOG DAY
Republican governors are quite vocal about their concerns that the health care law will crush their state budgets, Democratic operatives are building a communications war room, and moderate Democratic politicians facing voters next year are beginning to buckle.
Any of that sound familiar? It feels like 2009 all over again, doesn’t it?
The political debate surrounding the legal and legislative maneuvering on the health care law continues to include one key driving force: The American people are largely evenly divided on the law.
That political stalemate has each side still willing to invest a ton of time and money into persuading more Americans into some sort of a tipping point.
On Monday we told you about Indiana Gov. Mitch Daniels’ op-ed and letter signed by the majority of his fellow GOP governors.
For Tuesday, your must-read health care pieces are:
The Washington Post on Democratic efforts to beef up its communications strategy surrounding the party’s defense of the law: LINK
POLITICO on the vulnerable Senate Democrats from Red States who are none too quietly discussing a change to the individual mandate provision in the law: LINK
Continue to watch each of these developments like a hawk. Despite President Obama’s plea to not re-fight the arguments of the previous two years, the lines are being drawn and the battle over health care is once again about to be fully joined.
THE DOWNFALL OF THE DLC
The Democratic Leadership Council, a driving force toward the political center in the Democratic party for the past two-and-a-half decades, is reportedly on the verge of bankruptcy and could close up shop as soon as this week.
“With its CEO Bruce Reed joining the Administration, the DLC Board of Directors has decided to suspend operations while it considers what the next phase of the DLC will be,” DLC co-founder Al From said in a statement released Monday.
The news of the DLC’s demise, first reported by POLITICO’s Ben Smith, marks the end of the centrist organization’s influence on Democratic politics and policy that peaked during the Clinton years of the 1990s.
The DLC was formed in 1985 in response to President Ronald Reagan’s decisive victory over Walter Mondale in the presidential campaign a year earlier.
Smith writes, “[T]he group and its best-known chairman, then-Arkansas Gov. Bill Clinton, pushed balanced budgets, free trade, tough-on-crime policies, and welfare reform — all of which alienated the base, but became a key part of Clinton’s ‘New Democrat’ agenda and his presidential legacy.”
During the Bush administration, the DLC stuck to its moderate principles, supporting the decision to invade Iraq and backing Sen. Joe Lieberman’s independent bid in Connecticut after he lost the state’s 2006 Democratic primary.
But by taking the middle-road approach, the DLC put itself at odds with the liberal left, which argued the organization did not truly represent the Democratic party.
Markos Moulitsas, founder of the liberal blog DailyKos, seemed almost giddy upon learning of the DLC’s downfall. “Where is the grave, so I can go dance on it?” he wrote on his site.
The Washington Post’s Chris Cillizza notes the DLC has struggled to return to relevance during the Obama administration. “The election of President Obama was another blow to the DLC. Obama didn’t run from the DLC but neither did he run toward their principles either. And, the fact that Obama beat then New York Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton in the Democratic primary made the loss all that more stinging,” Cillizza writes.
Perhaps the final blow for the DLC was the departure this year of its CEO, Bruce Reed, to become Vice President Joe Biden’s chief of staff.
So, while the DLC may be gone, the organization will still have a voice in the White House, which has moved to the middle on some issues like tax cuts since Democrats suffered big losses in last year’s midterm elections.
HARMAN TO RESIGN
The end of the DLC comes as House Democrats prepare Tuesday to lose one of their centrist voices on intelligence and national security matters.
Rep. Jane Harman, D-Calif., is expected to resign her seat to become president of the Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars. She will succeed former Rep. Lee Hamilton, D-Ind., at the center.
Harman explained her decision in a letter sent Monday to her constituents. “This is an excruciating decision because the distinction of representing the smartest constituents on earth will never be surpassed – nor will my relationships with my exceptional staff and colleagues in Congress,” Rep. Harman wrote.
California Gov. Jerry Brown will determine when a special election will be held.
There’s little likelihood the result will alter the math in the House, as the district Harman represents, California’s 36th, has turned reliably Democratic since she was first elected to Congress in 1992. The district backed President Obama and Sen. John Kerry, D-Mass., by wide margins in 2008 and 2004, respectively.
The question is more likely which Democrat will win the seat. The special election will be conducted under California’s new non-partisan primary system in which all candidates compete in an open first-round vote with the top two finishers meeting in the general election.
Rep. Harman has served nine terms, giving up the seat in 1998 to launch a failed bid for governor. She won the seat back from her Republican successor two years later.
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