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Weeping for Rumsfeld
Robert Novak, Caudillo’s Knave

Robert Novak is king of that paradox of the Washington punditocracy: terrifically informed yet analytically dim and intellectually corrupt, because drunk on that Molotov cocktail of America-First presumption: ideology and nationalistic chauvinism. (He’s also stylistically dead, but that’s the disease of just about every columnist out there). His latest column in the Post sheds light and tears over the Rumsfeld firing. Not even Rumsfeld knew he was being fired, apparently. And Bush did it brusquely and disloyally. All right. So inside gossip is sexy for those pseudo-informati who give a damn about Washington’s entirely self-absorbed and entirely irrelevant place settings and Kremlin-like protocol. But then Novak writes this: “The treatment of his war minister connotes something deeply wrong with George W. Bush's presidency in its sixth year. Apart from Rumsfeld's failures in personal relations, he never has been anything short of loyal in executing the president's wishes. But loyalty appears to be a one-way street for Bush. His shrouded decision to sack Rumsfeld after declaring that he would serve out the second term fits the pattern of a president who is secretive and impersonal.”

Secretive and impersonal? Where the hell has Novak been for the past six years? Why be incensed, let alone surprised, over the method of Rumsfeld’s firing, when it only reflects the imperious ways Bush has conducted his entire presidency—imperious ways Novak, first among apologists, has advertised, marketed, worshipped for the last six years? Here’s Novak’s hypocrisy, which itself speaks loudly of the punditocracy’s opportune amnesia. Yesterday’s war drums are today’s funereal orations, and no Novak will ever have the honesty to make the connection between the two, to connect dots of his own penning. So we get infected secretions like this: “It is hard to find anyone in the Bush administration who endorses the way Rumsfeld was handled,” Novak goes on. “His friend and comrade, Vice President Cheney, is reported to be profoundly disturbed.” His friend and “comrade”! Pardon my Arabic, but who gives a shit how Rumsfeld (“you go to war with the Army you’ve got”) feels, considering the murderous devastation he’s responsible for in Iraq, and the responsibility he holds for a military death toll as pointless as it’s been unnecessarily large?

The scandal isn’t Rumsfeld’s firing. It’s that it took three years longer than it ought to have. It’s that it wasn’t done with more disgust, to reflect the nation’s disgust with the man (and the man who appointed him and), not less “loyalty.” But that’s how standards of decorum and idiotically militaristic notions such as “honor” and “loyalty” are used nowadays, by the junta’s propagandists, to mask the rot at the heart of an establishment too diseased to lift a lid and notice its own sleaze.

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