Saturday, September 30, 2006

The Two Sides of Rummy's Survival

There's a lot of speculation from Bob Woodward's upcoming book on the pressures to fire Donald Rumsfeld after the 2004 election.

The obvious reason is that firing Rumsfeld would have been a political disadvantage. Letting Rumsfeld go would have made it look like Bush actually was dissatisfied with events in Iraq while he was telling everyone how wonderful things were. In other words, Bush decided to keep failing in Iraq rather than make himself look like a liar.

But, I think that Bush has deeper reasons for keeping Rumsfeld. Bush admires aggressive, over-powering men like Donald Rumsfeld, Dick Cheney, Nolan Ryan, or Roger Clemens of the Houston Astros. Wishing that he had an overwhelming personality or athletic ability himself, Bush has a deep admiration for other men like that. In this way, Bush likes the way that Rumsfeld runs roughshod over the military because he's always wanted to run roughshod over things himself.

Conversely, George Bush has a deep empathy for failure. Having failed with four oil companies before being set up with the Texas Rangers, Bush knows the frustration, futility, and impotence of doomed projects more than the vast majority of men and women. As a result, Pres. Bush would have more empathy with Rumsfeld's failures as defense secretary than he would for people who are having success.

So, Rumsfeld survives even as Baghdad falls apart. The wannabe in Bush admires the arrogant brashness of Rumsfeld while the loser in Bush commiserates with Rumsfeld's failures.

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