So it's little surprise to me that as the White House brings in former Secretary of State James Baker to patch together a new Iraq strategy, our current Secretary of State Donald Rumsfeld is cooking up a new public relations campaign to defend his old Iraq strategy. From an October 30 Associated Press story by Lolita C. Baldor:
WASHINGTON — The Pentagon is buttressing its public relations staff and starting an operation akin to a political campaign war room as Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld faces intensifying criticism over the Iraq war.
In a memo obtained by the Associated Press, Dorrance Smith, assistant secretary of defense for public affairs, said new teams of people will "develop messages" for the 24-hour news cycle and "correct the record."
Rumsfeld is concerned, as always, that the U.S. media isn't reporting enough "good news." Let's "correct the record" on this "good news" poppycock. There's not enough good news in the entire New Testament to offset the disaster Rumsfeld has been singularly responsible for creating in Iraq. No nation goes to war for the purpose of painting schoolhouses, and turning on someone's electricity three years after you put it out of commission is not a measure of "success."
Rummy's also "deeply troubled" that terrorist groups have been successful at "manipulating the media" to influence westerners. "That's the thing that keeps me up at night," Rummy says.
I can think of a lot of things that ought to keep Rummy up at night, most notably the deeply troubling prospect of what's waiting for him in the afterlife. But what terrorist manipulation of the western media is he talking about? All those pro-bin Laden infomercials featuring that cute al Qaeda Gecko?
According to AP's Baldor, Pentagon spokesman Eric Ruff wouldn't say what the costs of the new public relations program might be, but construction has already begun on the Pentagon's outer "E" ring to accommodate new hires. Whatever the program winds up costing the taxpayers, some of its expenditures will go to financing "surrogate" programs that finance high-level politicians and "interest groups" to travel and speak on behalf of pro-war GOP candidates. That means a slice of the defense budget will go toward financing Republican election campaigns. Will the Federal Elections Commission raise any objections to this? I doubt it. FEC Chairman Michael E. Toner is a former General Counsel of the Republican National Committee and was a General Counsel of the Bush-Cheney 2000 campaign. And, oh, yeah, he's also been a "quest commentator" on Fox News.
It's Everybody's Fault But Rummy's
Rumsfeld not only blames the "liberal media" for his abject failures in Iraq, he's putting tire marks on the backs of his own public relations people, who he doesn't think have been getting "the message" out as quickly or effectively as the terrorists have. "If I were grading I would say we probably deserve a 'D' or a 'D-plus' as a country as to how well we're doing in the battle of ideas that's taking place in the world today," he says.
That puts the Pentagon spin machine's performance at selling the war one grade higher than Rummy's performance as Secretary of Defense. Given his abject failure at running the war, he ought to kiss the very ground his public relations people crawl on for the job they've managed to pull off. Lipstick can only do so much to pretty up a pig, and calling horse manure "chocolate ice cream" doesn't change the way it tastes or smells.
Speaking of Chocolate Ice Cream…
Wednesday afternoon, young Mister Bush announced that old Messrs Cheney and Rumsfeld will stay on in their present posts throughout the course of Bush's remaining term. That's loyalty for you, huh? Dubya doesn't change horses in the middle of the stream, even if they're dead. Maybe he figures that hanging on to a pair of bloated corpses is his best bet to get back ashore without drowning his legacy.
The state of America today is such that we tolerate irresponsible, unaccountable behavior from our highest national officers that we wouldn't put up with from our children. If little Johnny gets caught shoplifting a pack of baseball cards and trys to blame it on store security for catching him, he spends some time in his room. If little Donny takes a nation to war and screws it up and blames the media for saying he screwed it up, he gets to spend two more years as a cabinet secretary. Too bad for little Johnny that he doesn't have unlimited access to tax payer dollars to bail himself out of trouble like little Donny does.
Little Donny is 74 years old now. Wouldn't you think he's reached an age where he should be held responsible for his actions, even if he still throws temper tantrums like he did when he was little Johnny's age?
Commander Jeff Huber, U.S. Navy (Retired) writes from Virginia Beach, Virginia. Read his commentaries at ePluribus Media and Pen and Sword.