Monday, December 20, 2004

Wanted: A warm and cuddly defense secretary

After 9/11, most Americans wanted the toughest, gutsiest man possible running the Pentagon, and they found it all in Donald H. Rumsfeld.

Even the weenies applauded America's made-for-TV hero. The secretary's televised wartime news conferences, which a media wag nicknamed "The Rummy Show," was a smash hit. Millions of Americans tuned in to C-SPAN and any other cable channel that carried the live sparrings between Rumsfeld and the press.

When Rumsfeld was riding high - in the historic invasion, liberation, and democratization of Afghanistan; the unheard-of push into Baghdad that smashed military record upon military record; and the mean slog through the transformation of a reluctant Pentagon bureaucracy - everybody seemed to be on his side.

Now that the going is almost as tough as President Bush and Rumsfeld himself warned about from the start, and with the unpleasant surprises that are inevitable in every military conflict, some of the cheerleaders are not so tough.

Some have let themselves become demoralized by the terrorist attacks on our forces in Iraq. Some have let themselves unwittingly advance the terrorists' propaganda strategy of defeatism.
With the public now accustomed to the war, it's becoming its old, soft, picky self. Much of the public - led not just by limp-wrists in the journalistic profession or on the political Left, but even in the Republican Party - don't want a nasty, tough Pentagon chief whose unabashed goal is to slay the terrorist enemy by the thousands.

They want a defense secretary who's more "sensitive" and "caring" than the autopen-wielding Rumsfeld. Now, on the eve of 2005, they want their Pentagon leader to be warm and fuzzy and cuddly in time of war against the terrorists.

No wonder we make such a soft target. No wonder the terrorists in Iraq are escalating their bombing attacks on our troops and on the Iraqi people.


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