Saturday, August 05, 2006

Main Event: Rumsfeld v. Clinton

It's a pity -- but entirely predictable -- that Thursday's network sound-bites from the Senate Armed Services Committee didn't include Donald Rumsfeld's point-by-point rebuttal of Hillary Clinton's carefully scripted statements.

The showdown between Clinton, a potential presidential candidate in 2008, and Rumsfeld, the public face of the Bush administration's war effort, included the strongest criticism of the Iraq war she has made to date... He rejected some of her specific criticisms as simply wrong and said the war against terror will be a drawn-out process.

"Are there setbacks? Yes," said Rumsfeld. "Is this problem going to get solved in the near term? I think it's going to take some time."

...Rumsfeld also vigorously defended the performance of American troops, who have come under fire recently for alleged atrocities against Iraqi civilians.

"Americans didn't cross oceans and settle a wilderness and build history's greatest democracy only to run away from a bunch of murderers and extremists who try to kill everyone that they cannot convert and tear down what they could never build," Rumsfeld said.

"We can persevere in Iraq or we can withdraw prematurely until they force us to make a stand nearer home. But make no mistake, [extremists] are not going to give up whether we acquiesce to their immediate demands or not," he said, adding, "Ultimately the sectarian violence is going to be dealt with by Iraqis."

Clinton's careful, GPS-guided triangulations now include an exquisitely balanced call for the SecDef to resign. EIB's response:

Why in the world should Donald Rumsfeld resign? Has anybody caught him with his pants down in the office with an intern? Has he been selling military secrets to the ChiComs for campaign donations to President Bush? Has Rumsfeld lied before a Senate committee while under oath or to a grand jury? Was he called in the Valerie Plame investigation by Patrick Fitzgerald? Did he lie to that grand jury? Has he been coaching other people in his office to lie at press briefings or what have you? Has he been selling Pentagon paraphernalia, memorabilia, even rooms to campaign contributors so people can spend the night in the Pentagon and see what that's like? Has he been doing any of that? Has somebody accused him of rape? Did I miss that? Has somebody accused him of sexual harassment? Will somebody tell me why Donald Rumsfeld should resign, because I must have missed a lot.

Howard Fineman, interviewed by Matt Lauer, called Hillary Clinton, "the exquisitely balanced center of gravity of the Democratic Party."

That's one way to put it.

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