Rumsfeld Should Quit a Sinking Ship
by John Nichols
Capital Times / Madison, Wisconsin
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Unlike the rest, Rumsfeld has some history of actually thinking for himself.
Unlike Bush, Cheney and the rest, Rumsfeld excelled as a student, served honorably in the military, got himself elected to Congress by age 30 and then worked creatively - and without indictments - for a succession of Republican presidents. Don't get me wrong, I disagree with most of the policies that Rumsfeld pushed along the way, and with many of his decisions about who to work with.
But Rumsfeld often showed himself to be open to ideas and honest debate. In the 1960s, one of his best friends in Washington was Allard Lowenstein, the anti-war activist who briefly served in the House with Rumsfeld. Though Rumsfeld was never an outspoken critic of the Vietnam War, it is well documented that he was one of the few people in Richard Nixon's inner circle who raised serious questions about that failed and foolish mission.
After the war was done, when he served as Gerald Ford's White House chief of staff, Rumsfeld actually asked Lowenstein, a liberal Democrat, to join the administration. Lowenstein, who had a falling out with his old friend in 1970, rejected the offer. But Rumsfeld's interest in pushing the political envelope was commendable. It was, as well, consistent with his more open-minded approach to politics and government.
It is that side of his past that Rumsfeld should embrace. He should quit this sick house of an administration and, like former Treasury Secretary Paul O'Neill, he should speak openly about what is wrong inside the White House. Bush, Cheney, Powell, Wolfowitz and the rest are incapable of self-reflection, let alone intellectual honesty. But there has always been more to Rumsfeld. He has the capacity to understand that this president and his minions are steering the United States dramatically off course.