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Rummy the Dove

Joe Scarborough blogs, “So Donald Rumsfeld is catching flack from a few retired generals. Big deal.”
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April 17, 2006 | 8:12 p.m. ET

Rummy the Dove (Joe Scarborough)

So Donald Rumsfeld is catching flack from a few retired generals. Big deal.

The Pentagon brass has always bristled at Rummy for his belief that America's armed forces could expand their missions while cutting their budgets.

A few months before September 11th, a fellow Republican member of the Armed Services Committee told me how he was already longing for the days of the Clinton Administration. Most Republicans loathed Rummy because he and his top brass spent their first six months in power trying to slash and burn established military doctrine and replace it with an approach that centered on long-range bombers and lightning-fast strikes.

It was a stupid idea then and it is a stupid idea now. But 9/11 saved Rummy from a Republican lynching and even softened my cynical heart.

I know it's not the hip thing to say these days but I am a card carrying member of the Donald Rumsfeld Fan Club.

Hell. I know he botched the peace. But he won the war. Doesn't that count for something?

Sure he tried to occupy Hell on the cheap and destroyed America's prestige in the process, but I do not always carry logic into my debates involving the SECDEF.

In an era of blow-dried, poll-tested Stepford politicos, Donald Rumsfeld is the real deal. He deflates arrogant reporters, talks down to pompous senators, and mocks his enemies with a smile and laugh. And when he screws up, Rummy doesn't bother groveling for forgiveness. I even like the fact that when this guy admits he made a mistake, you know he doesn't really mean it.

File this one under "Personality Cult." Or maybe it is what Tom Wolfe calls "championism" which makes me root for Rummy because I think he is a tribe member.

But strike that last thought. My love for the SECDEF has nothing to do with Rummy being on my side. He is not when it comes to troop strength or military restructuring. I'm with Colin Powell in those debates.

You don't win wars on the cheap, you don't cut troop strength and you don't leave an opening for the enemy by giving the generals less than they ask for. The hell with fair fights. We should demand "shock and awe" as a military strategy, not a campaign slogan.

Oh yeah. And one final thought for my anti-war friends. Running off Rumsfeld will only prove what hawks like me have been saying from the beginning of this war: that we need more trained killers in Iraq, not less. That we need more instruments of death in Iraq, not less. And that our Secretary of Defense's biggest mistake in Iraq was not failing to make peace, but failing to make war in the most ruthlessly efficient way possible.

Hmmm. Maybe we need a new leader at the Pentagon after all.

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April 13, 2006 | 4:23 p.m. ET

'Conservative Republican' an oxymoron (Joe Scarborough)

Who really cares if Republicans lose Congress? Certainly not GOP leaders in the US House.

As the Wall Street Journal reported today, the Republican pigs running Congress are wasting more money than those big-spending Democrats ever did.

Last month’s deficit was the highest ever. But while Rome burns, Republicans obsess over their earmarks.

Conservative Republicans. What an oxymoron.

There is nothing conservative about the party to which I once proudly belonged. Like millions, I am disgusted by my party and their leaders.

A handful of responsible adults still understand the need for reform. But don’t tell that to GOP bulls who have been trying to spend money like drunken sailors since they were empowered by the Revolution of 1994.

Some revolution.

A decade later, Republicans have given America the biggest deficit ever. The biggest debt ever. The biggest trade gap ever. The highest spending increases ever. A 110% increase in the education bureaucracy. A 100% increase in the Justice bureaucracy. An 88% increase in the Department of HHS. More pork projects than ever before. More earmarks than ever before. More reckless spending projects than ever before. A bigger, more wasteful government than ever before.

Why the hell should conservatives work to put these whores back in their perches of power?

Could Nancy Pelosi’s Congress be worse?

Not on the spending level, because George W. Bush would have the courage to veto her outrageous spending bills. Sadly, he has shown no such fortitude with his own party in charge.

It is disgusting. It is also a problem I diagnosed two years ago in my book. But Republicans weren’t listening then and they won’t listen now.
In fact, most of these bloated, sad figures won’t figure out the political score until Denny Hastert passes the Speaker’s gavel to Nancy Pelosi. Then watch the weeping and gnashing of teeth begin for a political party that lost Congress because they lost the trust of their biggest supporters.

They deserve whatever they get.

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April 13, 2006 | 1:35 p.m. ET

No time to quit (Joe Scarborough)

Three years after Baghdad fell, the scene looks more chaotic than ever.

I supported this war. Still do. But damn. Talk about lowered expectations. Forget Jeffersonian Democracy. I'll settle for fair elections and a little bit of order.

I really believed that Iraq could be managed like Afghanistan. Far from perfect but just as far from the anarchy that now grips Baghdad city streets.

Sunni terrorists and "Al Qaeda in Iraq" leader Zarqawi have gotten their wish. They have sewn the seeds for a possible civil war, have killed any chance of American allies building a civil society in Iraq and have played Western media elites like the chumps they are.

Zarqawi sent out a memo last year that said the following: Democracy in Iraq is death for Al Qaeda. Our only chance is to kill as many Shiites as possible so we can start a civil war.

Zarqawi and his allies have continued doing so under the protective PR cover of a media machine that still insists on calling Al Qaeda's terrorists "insurgents."

Some newspapers changed tact a bit when Shiites finally began killing Sunnis last month. Wouldn't be fair and balanced to condemn Shiite death squads but glamorize Sunni bombers who blow up little children and grandmoms as part of a larger political strategy.

So Zarqawi is winning in Iraq. Fine. Let's turn the region's future over to him. Let's give up. Let's surrender to an enemy whose greatest military tactic is blowing its members up.

Or let's stay in Iraq as long as 80% of the country supports democracy.

There is strength in numbers. And at some point, Iraqi political leaders just may strike the same balance that Lebanon struck after years of religious violence ripped that country to its core in the 1980s.

We must stay. We must win. We have no other choice.

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April 10, 2006 | 4:47 p.m. ET

Grim future for Iraq (Joe Scarborough)

Three years after Saddam's statue fell in the center of Baghdad, Iraq's future is grim. Western elites have been predicting-some would say cheering for-failure in that battered land since George Bush launched Operation Iraqi Freedom.

Well. They may get it.

Their sniping has been maddening because my political radar keeps telling me that as long as Shiites and Kurds make up 80% of Iraq's population, Saddam's Sunnis have little choice but to play along in the democratic process or be crushed by a civil war. And if it spreads to a sectarian war, count on Iranians flooding over the border to massacre every Sunni they find.
With eight out of ten Iraqis supporting democracy for their own selfish motives, how could Bush's experiment fail? Even after Bremer's bungling, the White House's arrogance and the media's pessimism, shouldn't demographics be destiny?

Maybe not.

My calculation never considered Sunni terrorists would be so willing to see America fail that they would blow up their own people to start a civil war. Better to destroy Iraq than have democracy succeed.

But terrorists do not think logically so Sunnis have been ripping Iraq apart at the seams for two years now, ignoring the fact that if civil war began, they would all be dead in 15 minutes.

Their indiscriminate killing of Shiite civilians over the last year has finally brought this country closer to a civil war. The situation has gotten worse over the past two weeks and the Shiites have lost their patience. They are finally striking back and getting even.  Understandably, they are also ignoring our pleas for further restraint.

If you are overwhelmed by the details of Iraq, just remember this: when America loses the Shiites, America loses Iraq.

The Mosque bombing finally unleashed the Shiites' fury as death squads swarming into Baghdad's streets seeking revenge. Their militias have kidnapped and tortured any Sunnis they could find with their mangled bodies filling drainage ditches and city streets for the past month.

The same press who for years blandly dismissed Sunni terrorists as "insurgents" suddenly became alarmed when Shiites began killing Sunnis.

It is also interesting how some Sunnis' view of US troops has changed from invader to protector. One was quoted in Jeffrey Gettleman's front page Sunday Times piece as saying, "If the Americans leave, we are finished."

Another Sunni tribesman told a Times Week in Review reporter that his people got better treatment from Americans than fellow Shiite countrymen. He seemed to understand too that the only thing stopping Shiites in Iraq and Iran from launching a bloodbath of Biblical proportions are American troops in Iraq.

It took them three years to figure that out?

I wonder how long it will take the warring factions to figure out that if they want America to leave their land, all they have to do is play nice for a few months. Give Republican leaders an excuse to pull up the stakes and head home before the midterm elections and they will take it in a second.

Will Iraqis rise to the occasion in their moment of truth?
Don't count on it.

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Losing patience with Bush (Joe Scarborough)

It wasn't hard to figure out when Richard Nixon was screwed.

My father, who was a faithful member Nixon's Silent Majority, supported the 36th President throughout Vietnam, Cambodia, Kent State and the Watergate hearings.

To George F. Scarborough, the Washington Post was the enemy, Walter Cronkite was a communist and John Dean was a spineless traitor.

Even as an 11 year old, I knew the gig was up when my dad opened up the paper one morning in August and whispered, "If he's done half of this stuff, he should be sent straight to jail."

The next day, Nixon resigned.

Thirty-two years later, the same guy who stood by Nixon to the very end turned away from the Duke-Boston College game to tell me that he was losing patience with another GOP leader.

"What's going on with Bush? I look at some of the things he's been doing and I just don't..."

Dad's voice trailed off.

This lifelong Republican who waited in line for hours in 1964 to cast his vote for Goldwater, and predicted the rise of Ronald Reagan in 1979, could not bring himself to verbalize what the President's critics have been saying for years now. That George Bush's war is a disaster and his administration is out of touch with the Silent Majority.

The record deficit. The port deal. Amnesty for illegal aliens. Bridges to nowhere. Skyrocketing gas prices. Iranian terrorists getting the Bomb.

It's all been enough to make hardcore Republicans like my dad start asking if there's any difference between the Republican Party they have always loved and the Democratic Party they have forever loathed.

A Republican President has to work hard to  lose guys like my dad. But George Bush is close to losing George Scarborough.

Maybe that's why he's sitting at 38% in the polls and why his party's leaders are running for their lives.

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Bush pays for his contempt of Congress (Joe Scarborough)

Payback is hell.

That's what White House staff have to be thinking, as Republican lawmakers kicked their President in the political teeth for the first time in five years.

Lawmakers on both sides of the aisle will tell you that George W. Bush and his top staff members have never hidden their contempt for lawmakers on the other side of Pennsylvania Avenue.

That's because the Bush White House has never considered Congress an equal partner in any program or initiative they launched.

I got a glimpse of this disdain when I was still in Congress. In fact, many of my Republican colleagues laughed that they got more respect from the Democratic President they had impeached a few years earlier.

Looking back on it, we did.

The President paid for his can't-be-bothered approach toward Congress when House and Senate members decided to stand up to Bush's veto threat. In doing so, lowly senators and congressmen embarrassed the President of the United States in full view of the world.

Still, Republicans on Capitol Hill are fretting that their President's port controversy will be  another election year disaster for a party beaten and bruised by missteps and scandals. But they also wonder if the Bush Administration will finally accept them as equal partners in
this bloody political year.

The answers to those questions are yes and no.

That is bad news for a political party on the brink of disaster.

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Iraq is not in a civil war! (Joe Scarborough)

Last week, the usual media suspects declared that civil war had broken out in the streets of Baghdad.  A new Washington Post poll, Americans were listening. 80% now believe Iraq is heading to civil war.

Don’t believe everything you see on TV.

I don’t want to accuse any of my colleagues of stupidity, the suggestion that Iraq is currently engaged in a civil war is a conclusion that could be drawn by one who is either too stupid to be on TV or just liberal enough to have his own news show.

The term "civil war" suggests a country is being ripped apart by competing internal factions. And I’ll be damned if I have to explain this again for all the idiots who talk on TV every night without knowing the facts, but here I go again:

*60% of Iraq is made up of Shiites. Shiites were oppressed by Saddam Hussein for years and desperately want democracy to succeed. Their leader, the Grand Ayatollah Sistani, has been a voice of restraint. He has saved Iraq from further bloodshed and has told religious leaders they should oppose all forms of theocracy.

*20% of the country is made up of Kurds. Like the Shiites, Kurds were raped, slaughtered and gassed by Hussein. They also support democracy and fear the return of Saddam’s Sunnis to power.

*15% of the population is made up of Sunnis. Saddam’s sect has spent the last four decades oppressing the other 85% of Iraq. Far more brutal than South Africa pre-Mandela, the Sunnis kept power by running a Stalinist state. These thugs, by the way, are the New York Times’ faction of choice. The Times has been whining for years that Sunnis must have a stronger voice in Iraq’s new government. Screw representational democracy. Engage the oppressors. Was this the Times’ take on segregationists who lost power after the Civil Rights Act of 1964?

Even Sunni leaders who were in bed with Saddam Hussein want to avert a civil war. That’s why Sunni leaders began negotiating with Shiites and Kurds hours after the mosque explosion. Even they know it is foreign terrorists who are blowing up women and children in mosques and public markets. They also know that Zarqawi’s Muslim invaders in Iraq have lost the battle for the hearts and minds of Iraqis.

While talking heads in America and Europe were furiously wishing civil war on Iraq, the Iraqi army did an admirable job keeping peace last week after the Shiite mosque was blown apart. As the New York Post’s Ralph Peters reports from Iraq, far from leading that country down the path to civil war, the mosque bombing has shown Iraqis that its security forces have made great strides. Peters reports:

* The Iraqi army deployed over 100,000 soldiers to maintain public order. U.S. Forces remained available as a backup, but Iraqi soldiers controlled the streets.

* Iraqi forces behaved with discipline and restraint-as the local sectarian outbreaks fizzled, not one civilian had been killed by an Iraqi soldier.

* Time and again, Iraqi military officers were able to defuse potential confrontations and frustrate terrorist hopes of igniting a religious war.

* Forty-seven battalions drawn from all ten of Iraq’s army divisions took part in an operation that, above all, aimed at reassuring the public. The effort worked-from the luxury districts to the slums, the Iraqis were proud of their army.

Iraq is a bloody mess. And it will be a long, hard slog for our troops and the 90% of Iraqis who want democracy. They are not paying attention to the omnipotent latte sipping talking heads in Manhattan and Georgetown. Instead they are risking their lives to build a new, free Iraq.

If American elites would stop cheering for civil war, maybe Iraq’s experiment in democracy would have a better chance of succeeding.

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March 8, 2006 | 9:10 a.m. ET

Duke of shame (Joe Scarborough)

I have always been stupid enough to pick on people in power, while showing sympathy for those down on their luck. But I can’t seem to find any tears for my former colleague, Duke Cunningham.

What would lead a public servant to use their position to get rich? Who knows? But in this case the California congressman’s graft was so calculated that he made up a shopping list for his bribes.

Earlier today, Cunningham was slapped with a jail sentence of eight years. Sucker that I am for people who have fallen on hard times, I may actually send Duke a note cheering him on during this bleak time. But I will offer no sympathy.

In getting shipped to jail for what may prove to be a life sentence, Duke Cunningham got what he deserved.

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