Today's Blogs

Rumsfeld’s Last Stand

Bloggers are decoding Rumsfeld’s last classified memo, lamenting the victory of Venezuela’s Hugo Chávez, and cheering the end of John Bolton’s ambassadorship to the United Nations.

Rumsfeld’s last stand: Ousted Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld’s last memo to the White House outlines his concerns about the war in Iraq. “In my view it is time for a major adjustment,” he wrote. “Clearly, what U.S. forces are currently doing in Iraq is not working well enough or fast enough.”

Anti-Bush-administration conservative Andrew Sullivan doesn’t mince words on Rumsfeld or his “miserable failure” of a war. The memo, he writes, places blame elsewhere. “[B]lame the Iraqis; blame the country; blame the soldiers. And, of course: never take responsibility. Same old Don,” he opines.

The “carnivorous conservative” at Riehl World View found the memo to be a “laundry list” of vague options, none of which were real solutions. “I would imagine like many managers Bush wanted at least the proposal of an actual solution, something the memo failed to give. Maybe that stems from Rumsfeld’s distaste for the whole affair,” he writes.

Conservative heavyweight Ed Morrissey at Captain’s Quarters wonders if Rumsfeld’s concerns about the war, as revealed in the memo, led to his unceremonious departure. “That begs the question: is this why Rumsfeld got fired so abruptly? … two weeks before this memo was written, Bush had publicly endorsed Rumsfeld for two more years of service, despite the obvious political damage that would cause the Republicans in the midterms. Two days after Rumsfeld submitted this memo, he was out of a job.”

The liberal at Thoughts of an Average Woman concludes that Rumsfeld’s words echo Democrats. “With some of these suggestions, I can imagine Cheney sitting in his chair and believing Rummy to be a turncoat. I’m wondering, however, for how long Rummy has been sending what was obviously viewed as turncoat-signals?”

Academic Juan Cole at Informed Consent is livid that Rumsfeld suggests that the United States adopt one of Saddam’s old policies: buying the support of “key” political and religious leaders: “I mean, bribing people to be your puppets is bad enough, but citing Saddam’s policies as an example for how Iraq should be run is absolutely outrageous. Not only did Rumsfeld want to manipulate the American public with phony ‘benchmarks’ and ‘minimalist’ language, but he wanted to directly manipulate Iraqis by buying off their notables.”

At National Review’s Corner, Andy McCarthy is dismayed that this “extraordinarily interesting” memo was leaked: “If high officials—in wartime, no less—figure they better not give their best, most candid advice on sensitive, publicly-charged issues because opposing policy factions are going to leak each other’s memos to the press, the initiative and creativity of the smart people we want in government is stifled.” And right-wing columnist Michelle Malkin rebukes the “blabbermouths” at the New York Times for publishing “[a]ll the secrets fit to print.”

Read more about Rumsfeld’s parting memo.Slate’s “Hot Document” has the memo.

Chávez paints country red: The world looked on this weekend as oil-endowed Venezuela re-elected President Hugo Chávez to his third term, with the incumbent winning 61 percent of the vote to Social Democrat challenger Manuel Rosales’$2 28 percent.

Daniel of Venezuela News bids farewell to the blogosphere because of the election’s disappointing outcome. “I just need to change my life, isolate myself from all the degradations that will come to Venezuela as the incompetence of Chavez will now have free rein to finish off historical monuments, National Parks, customs, culture, traditions. Now I need to nest, to bring out all the books that I have bought over the years and never had time to read, to start listening to music again as I forget about the news,” he laments.

A.M. Mora y Leon at Publius Pundit thinks that Chávez’s re-election portends badly for the people of Venezuela. “With a mandate this strong and the international community behind them, Chavez will aggressively do anything he pleases with the opposition. We will now see boat people, GULags, reeducation camps and firing squads.” He also has photos from around Caracas on Election Day and a lengthy roundup of the Venezuelan blogosphere’s reactions to the results.

Lawyer and author Glenn Greenwald takes a moment to reappraise Bush’s goal of cultivating democracy. “If the leaders whom we are supposed to hate so much—even the ones who are The Terrorists—keep getting elected democratically, doesn’t that negate the ostensible premise of our foreign policy—that America-loving allies will magically spring up all over the world where there are democracies and they will help us fight The Terrorists?”

Read more about Chávez’s re-election. Alexandra Starr reported on the election for Slate here.

Farewell, bewhiskered one: The hirsute U.S. ambassador to the United Nations, John R. Bolton, tendered his resignation on Friday. Bush appointed Bolton during the August 2005 recess, after a Democratic filibuster prevented his selection during the regular session.

Justin Rood at TPM Muckraker outlines what became the final outrageous act during the tenure of the “the Man with the Iron Mustache.” “Less than two weeks before the White House announced his resignation, Ambassador John Bolton’s U.N. mission blocked an effort to celebrate the end of slavery in our hemisphere,” Rood writes.

The liberal at pesky’apostrophe is gleeful for this “Chriskwanzakah miracle,” writing, “Yes, this clears the way for Bush to recommend someone else who hates the U.N. and wishes they’d all die, and who has no social skills and zero skill in diplomacy.”

Read more about Bolton’s resignation.