This is not about the midterm elections. Regardless of which party wins Nov. 7, the time has come, Mr. President, to face the hard bruising truth:
Donald Rumsfeld must go.
That's the bottom line in the Air Force Times editorial which was released over the weekend, and will appear in today's edition of that newspaper. The same editorial also appeared in the paper's sister publications, which cover the Army, Navy and Marine Corps. Normally, the opinions of these newspapers don't attract a lot of attention, but the MSM (and their friends in the Democratic Party) were quick to seize on the editorial as "more proof" of failed U.S. policies in Iraq.
The Defense Department refuted the Times' editorial, publishing a point-by-point rebuttal on one of its websites. Not surprisingly, the DoD response was longer on fact than the paper's editorial, which is little more than a recitation of the standard Rumsfeld critiques, summarized by the editorial writers in one of their final paragraphs:
"Rumsfeld has lost credibility with the uniformed leadership, with the troops, with Congress and with the public at large. His strategy has failed, and his ability to lead is compromised. And although the blame for our failures in Iraq rests with the secretary, it will be the troops who bear its brunt."
We'll leave the Iraq debate for another time. In the interim, the military publications (and their parent company, Gannett) owe us some answers about the editorial and its timing. First, if the call for Rumsfeld's dismissal is "not about the election," why is the editorial appearing in papers that hit the newsstands on 6 November--one day before military voters cast their ballots?
It would also be nice to know who wrote the editorial, and how the Times' editorial board arrived at their conclusion. Newsmax did a little digging on the Times' senior managing editor, Robert Hodierne, and found that he has a long history of writing articles critical of the military. That's certainly his First Amendment privilege, but it is rather curious that Hodierne's military frame of reference seems entirely shaped by Vietnam (where he worked as a correspondent in the late 1960s), and two brief tours in Iraq. Among his professional achievements, Mr. Hodierne lists a comment from Army and Pentagon officials, describing his reporting from Vietnam as "giving aid and comfort to the enemy," and "treason." So much for balance and objectivity.
Lost amid the kerfuffle over the editorial is the fact that many military personnel don't read the various Times publications. Curt at Flopping Aces best describes them as the "National Enquirer of the military" that hardly reflect the views of those who wear the uniform. Curt also has a link to a recent e-mail to Glenn Reynolds that provides a far better framework for assessing Rumsfeld, based on actual job performance rather than "inside the beltway" conjecture. Judging from the quality of that e-mail, I'd say Instapundit reader Len Smith should be appointed to the editorial board at the military papers. He appears far more qualified that to pass judgment on Don Rumsfeld that Robert Hodierne.