No Firing of Rumsfeld to Appease Democrats

By Al Kamen
Friday, September 8, 2006

For most Americans, the arrival of fall means the World Series or the beginning of the football season.

But here, in an election year, it's "issue-framing" time, when the parties furiously battle to position themselves on what they think will be the winning side in November.

So when Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld implied last week that Iraq war critics were as misguided as Neville Chamberlain when he dealt with Adolf Hitler 's demands, the Democrats were shocked, shocked at the comparison.

They called on President Bush to fire Rumsfeld. Then Senate Republicans quickly de-railed a Democratic move to force a floor vote on Rummy's tenure. The maneuvers forced the White House to dig in behind Rumsfeld, with spokesman Tony Snow saying Rumsfeld's going nowhere.

"It's not going to happen," Snow said. "Creating Don Rumsfeld as a bogeyman may make for good politics but would make for very lousy strategy at this time."

But it is all politics now. Of course, the Democrats weren't surprised at Rumsfeld's framing the Iraq war as World War II redux. Remember how he and Soviet expert Condoleezza Rice three years ago adroitly compared the growing Iraq insurgency to the "werewolves" in Germany, the Nazi operation to harass advancing Allied troops?

Okay. So maybe experts estimate that three dozen or so American soldiers died in the six months after Germany fell. And only three were killed in 1946. Not exactly the situation today in Iraq.

But there are still ample similarities between the two conflicts. For example: Baghdad, Berlin. Each begins with a "B," has two syllables. . . .

In 17 Days, We'll All Be Safe

Now this from yesterday's Associated Press daybook.

10:45 a.m. DEMOCRATS-SECURITY -- Senate Democratic leaders and New York Senators Charles Schumer and Hillary Clinton announce major new legislation to fix America's security policies and reflect the lessons of 9/11.

Well, there's still 17 legislative days left in the congressional session. Plenty of time to get those bills through committees, passed by both houses, then down to the White House. And there'll be time to spare to pass the overhaul of procedures for dealing with alleged terrorists that President Bush proposed Wednesday so we can quickly try "KSM" (a.k.a. Khalid Sheik Mohammed ) and the others who were moved from secret prisons to Guantanamo Bay, Cuba.

Teaching by Example

Our children is not learning?

President Bush , in a Labor Day speech to maritime workers at Piney Point, Md., noted: "But we also got to do some other things that's smart, and it starts with making sure our workers have the skills necessary to compete in the 21st century."

Collective Delight

If you can't say anything at all, say something nice.

President Bush 's nomination of career National Park Service employee Mary Bomar , who's now head of the Northeast regional office, to run the agency pleased everyone over there, we were told.

Then we got this e-mail from David Barna , the NPS chief of public affairs, addressed to "Staff."

"Keep in mind that Mary Bomar will not be doing any press or news media interviews prior to her confirmation hearings," Barna said. "The following is a statement you can use with the news media:

" 'The men and women of the National Park Service are delighted that the President has chosen a member of our family to serve as Director.' "

But He's Only Acting

Often, when there's an opening at the top of an agency, a career official may fill in as acting head until the new political appointee is confirmed. But the White House last week announced that Michael J. Sullivan , the U.S. attorney in Boston, will be acting director of the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives.

There's no formal word, but news reports in Boston have successors lining up to take his job as top federal prosecutor for Massachusetts. And it seems widely assumed that he will get the nod.

"I love the work of the U.S. attorney's office," Sullivan told the Boston Globe, but when you get "an important challenge . . . obviously you jump at the opportunity." Sounds like a bit more than a short-term acting directorship.

The White House moved with lightning speed on this opening -- Deputy Director Edgar A. Domenech had just become acting director following the Aug. 8 departure of director Carl Truscott .

Loop Fans may recall our Aug. 18 item noting that Domenech, a career employee, had reversed Truscott's decision to engrave in stone a quotation from President Bush 's post-9/11 speech to Congress at the entry to the new ATF headquarters opening next year.

Not that that had anything to do with this.

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