The Pentagon's press conference today, which featured Rumsfeld with the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, Marine General Peter Pace, by his side, forced me to swallow so many tranquilizers and sedatives that the ghosts of Hunter Thompson and John Belushi showed up to tell me to slow down.
But it was actually something Pace said in response to questions about the three retired generals (including Marine Lieutenant General Greg Newbold) who have recently called for Rumsfeld's resignation that set me off.
The chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff defended Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld from new criticism by former Pentagon brass Tuesday, telling reporters that "nobody works harder than he does."I guess I missed the part where the three generals' disgust with Rumsfeld was over his work habits.
"He does his homework. He works weekends. He works nights," Gen. Peter Pace said. "People can question my judgment or his judgment, but they should never question the dedication, the patriotism and the work ethic of Secretary Rumsfeld."
Look, doing your homework doesn't matter if you get it wrong. Working weekends and nights doesn't matter if you do shoddy work - if anything, it's more of a hindrance to everyone else. Like many government employees, Rumsfeld is actually at his most valuable when he's AWOL.
And of course he's working long hours. That's what you end up doing when you think you're more important in your corner office than the people under you are on the ground. That's what happens when you're a classic bureaucratic micromanager who constantly overrules his subordinates even though they may be in a better position to make decisions.
To my knowledge, no one has ever questioned Rumsfeld's patriotism or work habits. The issue here is his utter lack of competence, coupled with his unfortunately overinflated sense of self. There's nothing more dangerous than someone who thinks he's a lot smarter than he is and therefore believes he's the smartest person in the room. Simply put, this is a recipe for disaster. (See "Iraqi occupation and reconstruction, troop levels needed for"; see also "Iraqi army, disbanding of.") And for General Pace to pretend that RID is caused by anthing other than this is a disgraceful farce and an embarrassment to the uniform he wears.
It's way past time to "Get RID of Rummy," and hopefully salvage a war I have always supported in theory, but am becoming increasingly uneasy about in practice. For all the inane and overblown comparisons made between the wars in Iraq and Vietnam, it seems that one thing they do have in common is the crippling influence of REMFs who don't know what they're doing.
You're on my list, Rumsfeld.
And you know what? You're on my list, too, General Pace.