From the Elephant's Mouth
(cross-posted at firedoglake)
I asked for quotes of Republicans who were swiftboating the generals, brave
men who recently came out and asked for Rumsfeld’s resignation. I’ve
compiled a short list, more of which can be added to in the comments section
Progress has some quotes, with more here.
FDL readers (and readers from my own blog as well) came through.
Ironically, one of the most stunning swiftboating articles appeared today in
the Wall Street Journal, on its editorial page, which isn’t surprising.
Paul Gigot’s editorial page often ventures into, well, let me use the
word the columnist I’m about to quote used, disgraceful. The author, Eliot
A. Cohen, evidently believes that if you use the word “Clinton” within
the screed piece you sound bipartisan with your swiftboating. Nice try, but
we’re not going to fall for that one. Interestingly enough, someone at
the Wall Street Journal decided to offer up a subtitle for Cohen’s piece
that doesn’t appear on the actual page of the editorial. It’s the
Wall Street Journal editorial page doing it’s part to participate further
in the swiftboating of the
generals. It reads: “Conduct unbecoming from retired generals.”
This controversy has already, predictably, produced anti-Rumsfeld generals
and pro-Rumsfeld generals, as earlier controversies produced the pro- and
anti-Clinton and pro- and anti-Bush generals. Such squabbling among flag officers
brings discredit upon the lot. Furthermore, a politician who, after these
and like events, does not think carefully about whether a military subordinate
will likely turn on him the moment he takes off the uniform must be exceptionally
naive. No matter how low an opinion a general has of politicians, he is a
fool if he thinks them unaware of their own interests. And those interests
will lead them to promote flunkies over the prickly but able officers they
conceive themselves to be.
A general is equally a fool if he thinks he can engage in partisan polemic
without becoming a political target, with all the miseries for himself, and
degradation to his honor and profession, that that entails. Generals have
not always enjoyed the high reputation for integrity, independence and dispassionate
judgment they do today. That regard stems in large part from the example of
soldiers such as Gen. George C. Marshall, chief of staff of the U.S. Army
during World War II, who held his tongue in public, even as he argued vehemently
with (and often loathed) his president in private. Accustom the American people
to the public sniping and bickering of generals, and generals will soon find
that the respect on which they now count has evaporated.
No doubt, the swiftboating of the generals is not over yet. First, some swiftboating
from Victor David Hanson:
What we need, then, are not more self-appointed ethicists, but far more humility
and recognition that in this war nothing is easy. Choices have been made,
and remain to be made, between the not very good and the very, very bad. Most
importantly, so far, none of our mistakes has been unprecedented, fatal to
our cause, or impossible to correct.
So let us have far less self-serving second-guessing, and far more national
confidence that we are winning Ã¢â‚¬” and that radical Islamists and their
fascist supporters in the Middle East are soon going to lament the day that
they ever began this war.
Debates – Critics need to move on, by Victor David Hanson
A couple of bloggers weigh in, with this
one brining up President Bill Clinton — as Republicans always do when they're in trouble — while RedState
continues to show that the Republican Party are weaklings who never miss an
opportunity to hide behind another's words. We've also got this
guy's screed, which we'd posted before, but came in from ChicagoTom, as
well as others, all of whom wanted to drive the point home.
John posted this on FDL and my blog. Calling the generals, in essence, ignorant
is a clever way to swiftboat them without being too insulting. That is, until
9/11 is again conflated with Iraq. It seems that tactic will never end.
“It unfortunately appears that two of the retired generals (Messrs.
Zinni and Newbold) do not understand the true nature of this radical ideology,
Islamic extremism, and why we fight in Iraq. We suggest they listen to the
tapes of United 93.” CNN
As usual, the trolls that lurk at FDL couldn't resist the challenge of coming
up with quotes of Republicans who are swiftboating the generals. We got one
right off the top, commenter #5 “ss.” This is representative of some
of the comments you will see throughout the conservative blogosphere. If you
take a look over in their world, in fact, you'll see a lot worse.
“our generals” heh. Just found it amusing that you found a couple
retired generals whom you’re willing to support. Support the (retired
We can't forget Charles
Krauthammer, of course, who basically called the generals girlie men.
Amy brings us a great link from Media Matters that nails
Ed N Sted brings us Oliver North's “All-star Shame,” which is despicable.
But North definitely knows something about shame. That he goes back to Vietnam
is nothing short of ironic.
Here in this former enemy capital, the government of The Socialist Republic
of Vietnam operates a museum full of mementoes from the only war America ever
fought in which U.S. troops won every battle — but still lost the war. Among
displays of captured U.S. military equipment, parts of shot-down aircraft
and expended munitions are exhibits devoted to the American anti-war movement.
The carping coterie of retired generals now blasting the war effort in Iraq
— and demanding Donald Rumsfeld's head — ought to spend a few hours here
before firing another salvo. It might make the tarnished brass hats think
twice about whether their words aid and abet America's adversaries in the
Global War on Terror.
Larry offers up Pat Buchanan, as does GyroGear, with Buchanan hitting the nail
on the head. Maybe Ollie could take a read from him:
In 1951, Gen. MacArthur, the U.S. commander in Korea, defied Harry Truman
by responding to a request from GOP House leader Joe Martin to describe his
situation. MacArthur said the White House had tied his hands in fighting the
Though MacArthur spoke the truth and the no-win war in Korea would kill
Truman's presidency, the general was fired. But MacArthur was right to speak
the truth about the war his soldiers were being forced to fight, a war against
a far more numerous enemy who enjoyed a privileged sanctuary above the Yalu
river, thanks to Harry Truman.
In the last analysis, the Generals' Revolt is not just against Rumsfeld,
but is aimed at the man who appointed him and has stood by him for three years
of a guerrilla war the Pentagon did not predict or expect.
FDL reader Eclaire brought us an LA Times editorial that defends the generals,
which is so appreciated. Here's an excerpt:
WHEN SIX recently retired generals criticized Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld's
handling of the Iraq war and urged his resignation, the Bush administration
reacted as if the generals had announced an impending military coup. Within
days, administration loyalists were suggesting that the generals had been
disloyal not merely to Rumsfeld but to American democracy itself.
The dissenting generals seemed almost surprised by the speed and savagery
of the administration's counteroffensive. Maybe they had assumed that their
combat records and decades of service would protect them. Or maybe they had
been lulled into a false sense of security by the administration's floundering
Iraq policies and assumed that Rumsfeld and his White House backers were just
too distracted and incompetent to go after a few courteous, highly decorated
critics. But the generals should have known that this administration can be
ferociously competent when there's something really important Ã¢â‚¬” like
President Bush's poll numbers Ã¢â‚¬” at stake.
If I've missed any, please add them in the comments.
The generals are patriots. Besides, if George W. Bush wasn't so weak and was
doing his job, instead of covering his legacy, the generals wouldn't have had
to come out in the first place, because Donald Rumsfeld would be gone by now.