Wednesday, December 06, 2006

Anyone but Rumsfeld

By Michael J.W. Stickings

The bar is so low that any SecDef nominee would look good. And -- keeping in mind Creature's recent "love in" post -- I do think Gates looked good yesterday. Which isn't to say I don't have my reservations. Gates has more than his share of dirty laundry. And which isn't to say that I think Gates is right that "it's too soon to tell" whether or not the Iraq War was a good idea. And which isn't to say he ought to be supported going forward, beyond his inevitable confirmation -- he's still a Bush appointee, after all, and his alleged realism may soon find itself trumped by Bush's grand delusions.

But consider this:

Oct. 25, 2006

Bush: "Absolutely, we're winning."

Dec. 5, 2006

Levin: "Mr. Gates, do you believe that we are currently winning in Iraq?"
Gates: "No, sir."

The contrast is striking. No wonder Senator Levin, who has called for phased withdrawal, said this: "What we heard this morning was a welcome breath of honest, candid realism about the situation in Iraq."

Alright, there's your "love in". And, I agree, it was all rather unseemly, all rather unpleasant. Couldn't the Democrats have pressed him a bit more aggressively?

Well, sure. But he said the right things. (Indeed, the White House is already spinning him, which is a positive sign -- see The Carpetbagger Report for more.)

And, above all, he's anyone but Rumsfeld. That makes all the difference.

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