Chris Nelson fresh from the beach informs us no big changes (in the cabinet) until Bolten is fully ensconced as Chief of Staff. But get this:
The ”œBig One” is Rummy…has President Bush finally gotten to the point where he sees Defense Secretary Don Rumsfeld as a liability, not an asset? You can see evidence for this, if you want.
Specifically, note who has been run out for TV recently defending and explaining Iraq…Bush, not Rumsfeld. The President has been forced to put himself irrevocably on the line, both in public, and with the press, because Rumsfeld has lost all credibility…that’s what our Republican friends say is the ”œinside word”.
Sources also confirm that the President has absorbed the fact that the professional military has completely given up on Rumsfeld…admittedly a process which began for some ”œuniforms” even before 9/11, but which has continued to affect…or infect…virtually the whole military establishment today. (Rumsfeld’s contemptuous treatment of the senior brass…including the Joint Chiefs…has become legend, if somewhat under-reported, since these folks are loyal to the institution, if not the man, despite the provocations.)
Some insiders had been hoping that Rumsfeld would take the opportunity of the third-anniversary of the war to step down. But he either didn’t hear the hints, or didn’t care. So it apparently will be up to Bolten to pull the plug, on the President’s behalf.
Won’t Vice President Cheney step in to save his ideological and political comrade? Sources don’t think the Veep is in any position to challenge the facts on the ground…he can see that Rumsfeld has lost the confidence of both the troops, and the media.
So the question may boil down to Bolten’s authority, and capacity. Observers say that the Bolten of today is just as smart as he ever was, with an additional layer of toughness. ”œNow he has learned that sometimes you must fire people, even your friends, if you want to succeed”.
So does he have the authority to fire Rumsfeld? Inside betting is ”œyes”…so stay tuned.
Who replaces Rummy?
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