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Thursday, November 09, 2006

That hard-hitting liberal media

If the Democrats want to flex their muscles, it looks like the Gates nomination is the place to start. Not only has EVERY nomination Bush has made been crappy, but this one, like the others, was made with no consultation. No sitting down to chat with Democrats (or apparently even Republicans) in the Senate--he just said that Rumsfeld is gone and here's the guy who's replacing him. On that basis alone, the Dems should reject him--if W won't consult, they won't approve.

And it's certainly not like they'd be losing any great prize here. While it has been glossed over by two decades of St. Ronald canonization, the Reagan-Bush administration also acted illegally, unilaterally, and atrociously, and Gates was right in the middle of it. While Bush Sr. bemoaned, incorrectly, that the Iran-Contra investigations had cost the crooks involved money and careers as he pardoned them, the fact is that Iran-Contra was genocide on the Nicaraguan side and treason on the Iran side. The leading figures, like North, Reagan, Bush, Poindexter and others, should have, at the least, been locked up for the remainder of their miserable lives. Those on the periphery, as Gates was (maybe), should have at the very least been required to tell all they know, on penalty of never working for the U.S. government again. Gates didn't do that.

Nevertheless, the NY Times seems ready to roll out the carpet for Gates. Their lead editorial today says (emphasis added):
The challenge for Mr. Rumsfeld's chosen successor, Robert Gates, who was a deputy national security adviser to Mr. Bush's father and then served as director of central intelligence, will be to bring home to the president how desperate the situation has become in Iraq and to see that the war's conduct from here on is dictated by reality, not ideology.
Mr. Gates's most urgent task, assuming he is confirmed...
And the Times' article on Gates seems to suggest that Iran-Contra was just a bunch of nasty Washington partisanship that might scare off a gentle soul like Gates:
If Mr. Gates was initially reluctant to return to Washington, it may be because he knows what it means to be at the center of political crossfire. First picked by President Reagan in 1987 to succeed Mr. Casey, Mr. Gates withdrew in the face of senators' concern that he had not been candid about his knowledge of the Iran-contra affair.
Any explanation of whether he wasn't candid, or why, or why the senators were concerned? Not in this article. Don't want to annoy our chosen SecDef, now do we.

The Times does offer a brief critical quote from a former subordinate, who says "This is not a person with a history of telling truth to power." But of course the Times either didn't give this subordinate (must be sour grapes, right??) a chance to give examples, nor to explain it themselves. The implication, as I see it, is all the hubbub was just those nasty prima-donna senators asking pushy questions of the important people.

To balance out this basically meaningless, incomplete and undercut criticism, the Times offers positive quotes from two people you've probably heard of: David Boren and Bobby Inman. Inman provides this brilliant observation:
Bobby R. Inman, a former C.I.A. deputy director and National Security Agency director and an old friend of Mr. Gates, called him "a good listener" who, "after he makes up his mind, is very decisive."
Ummm...what does it matter if you're decisive AFTER you've made up your mind?