Dem Calls For Rumsfeld Firing A Good Strategy? genre: Just Jihad & Polispeak & Six Degrees of Speculation

Donald Rumsfeld

In an effort to refute the administrations Iraq effort and draw attention to the poorly managed conflict, numerous Democrats are calling for the resignation or the firing of Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld. Clearly, Rumsfelds' recent remarks, intended to compare calls for a withdrawal from Iraq with efforts to appease Hitler, were both annoying and excessive. Nonetheless, focusing on Rumsfeld may not be the best means to achieve a Democratic victory in November. Read the full article here.

WASHINGTON (CNN) -- Congressional Democrats are sharpening their attacks on Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld, with one senator proposing a resolution that would call on President Bush to sack the outspoken Pentagon chief.

Sen. Barbara Boxer of California said Thursday that she wants to attach the measure to the defense appropriation bill coming to the Senate floor after lawmakers' August recess.

Democrats in the House of Representatives are likely to offer a similar proposal, a senior Democratic aide said.

The idea is to force Republicans to cast what would amount to a vote of confidence in Rumsfeld -- one of the architects of the increasingly unpopular war in Iraq -- before November's midterm elections, said a Democratic strategist close to the House.

While I understand the strategy, I'm not certain it offers the maximum advantage available to the Democrats as we approach the midterm election. That said, I am not suggesting the Democrats should forego the effort...but I do believe they would serve their interests better by focusing the discussion on the President's judgment. Indirectly, the calls for the firing of Rumsfeld do infer that the President has bad judgment but I'm of the opinion that making the President and his decisions the focus might offer more benefit.

One must conclude that there is little likelihood that the President would fire Rumsfeld prior to the November election. At the same time, the fact that the GOP is allowing Rumsfeld to argue that Iraq is essential to the war on terror provides the Democrats with an opening to address the Republican effort to frame the midterm election as a referendum on the war on terror.

I would suggest that the Democrats take a play from the McCain game plan...and keep repeating the line that Rumsfeld serves at the request of the President...thereby forcing voters to question the administration's ability to successfully prosecute not only the Iraq war, but also the war on terror. Essentially, the Democrats need voters to doubt the President's overall handling of national security and the war on terror...demonstrated by the fact that he continues to proceed with Rumsfeld as his operative...more than they need to push for the firing of Donald Rumsfeld.

The goal would be to take the accusation that Democrats are defeatists and shift the discussion to point out that so long as the President refuses to make much needed changes, we are already being defeated. If voters accept that the Bush administration is losing the war on terror or is unable to adjust in order to win it, they will be less apprehensive to give Democrats an opportunity.

Voters need to see the GOP plan as an open wound unlikely to get better without a new prescription and they need to be convinced that the President is unwilling to administer the necessary medication to make that happen. My own preference would have been for Democrats to offer a more concrete alternative plan for Iraq and the war on terror...but that is now unlikely...so it seems clear to me that they must now convince voters that keeping Republicans in power will not lead to success in Iraq and more importantly in the war on terror.

CNN has learned that Democratic leaders in the House are discussing the possibility of offering a similar "no-confidence" vote when Congress reconvenes in September. One senior Democratic aide said Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi of California supports the idea but needs to "vet it with our folks" before anything definitive would be announced.

Democrats hope opposition to the war -- which hit 61 percent in a CNN poll released last week -- will help them retake at least one house of Congress in November. The party strategist who discussed the idea said challengers could use the vote "to talk about the true colors of these individual incumbents."

"If Rob Simmons supports Rummy, you bet you'll see that in a 30-second ad," he said, referring to the Connecticut GOP congressman facing a challenge from Democrat Joe Courtney.

But White House counselor Dan Bartlett said Democratic calls to begin pulling U.S. troops out of Iraq "would be a disaster for the security of the American people."

If the article is correct, it appears that Democrats intend to focus on voter opposition to the Iraq war rather that the war on terror...a move I am inclined to question given the success of Republicans in 2002 and 2004 to use the fear of terror to win votes. If the GOP can make voters focus on fear, they may well overlook their doubts about the handling of the Iraq war. If voters buy into the new rhetoric that portrays the Bush administration as adapting and adjusting in order to succeed in Iraq...and therefore they conclude that the GOP efforts are actually continuing to confront the much larger and more ominous threat of terrorism, then Democrats may not succeed.

I'm concerned that the Democrats may be making extrapolations from the Connecticut election that may not provide guidance across the much broader and more conservative national electorate. There is no doubt that the Iraq war is largely unpopular but the events in Connecticut did more to set the November table than to define what voters intend to order in the ballot box.

It is important to consider all the data on voter sentiment...and that includes the fact that a large majority of voters polled do not favor an immediate withdrawal from Iraq. The GOP clearly intends to attempt to define the Democrats...by virtue of the Lamont victory...as being inclined to "cut and run". Coupling that with voter’s fear of terrorism may make voters hold their noses and vote with the President and his Party despite the strong sentiment faulting the handling of the Iraq war.

As I evaluate the current status in Connecticut, the fact that Lieberman remains competitive seems to indicate that when all is said and done, voters (and keep in mind that Connecticut is more liberal than much of the country) may simply resist electing candidates or a Party that is thought to be in favor of withdrawal...especially if that means conceding defeat...another position that polling indicates voters are hesitant to accept. If Lieberman continues to be competitive, it would be difficult to not conclude that a majority of voters …despite a dislike of the Iraq war…aren’t ready to give up on the effort.

One mustn’t lose sight of the fact that a Lieberman victory would mean that a moderate Democrat (supportive of the Iraq war in that he clearly views it as part of the larger war on terror) was able to win with a coalition of many Republicans, a majority of independents, and some Democrats…against a Democrat touted as the new voice of the Democratic Party who champions a new direction in Iraq and the war on terror. If Lieberman remains competitive for the duration of the race, I would argue a Democratic victory in November is in serious jeopardy.

I just don't think that the Democrats can take control of the House or the Senate simply based upon voters negative feelings about Iraq. Calling for Rumsfeld to resign or be fired without addressing the President’s credibility in the war on terror seems to reinforce my suspicion that the Democrats are in fact staking the election on the Iraq situation and that heightens my doubts about their prospects for victory. Data suggests that the Republican rhetoric regarding the war on terror is still an effective tool and it must be challenged by more than a wholesale condemnation of the Bush administration’s Iraq effort if the Democrats are to win.

Daniel DiRito | September 1, 2006 | 2:45 PM
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Comments

1 On September 2, 2006 at 7:09 AM, The Lemming Herder wrote —

Let's not be too hasty.

Perhaps Bush and Rumsy are much smarter than we give them credit for.

Perhaps we all just misunderstood those appeasement remarks.

http://dontbealemming.com/2006/09/02/is-bush-preparing-to-invade-england.aspx
Posted by the Lemming Herder at Don’t Be A Lemming!

2 On September 5, 2006 at 5:26 PM, JFH wrote —

I think it's useful to start to get heads rolling as it were. Domino theory reloaded. Once you've got one neocon or Bush administration official, it gets easier to take down the others, since you can spin them as being guilty by association. Pretty lame, I know.

My personal opinion is that a related subject needs to be touched upon, namely "How could the US be hijacked by those corporate terrorists?" and "What can we chance to prevent Bushian disasters in the future?"

Nearly six years of the Bush-disaster proves that America needs to modernize it's way of governance. And that I can write a whole book about, but a tip might be looking at other democracies around the world.

Thought Theater at Blogged

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