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December 13, 2004
McCain: Still No Confidence In Rumsfeld

In an indication to everyone except the John Kerry Perpetual Campaign For Political Martyrdom that the presidential election is over, Senator John McCain made clear the feelings towards Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld to which he alluded last week with only slightly veiled rhetoric. McCain bluntly told an AP interviewer that he had "no confidence" in Rumsfeld:

U.S. Sen. John McCain said Monday that he has "no confidence" in Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld, citing Rumsfeld's handling of the war in Iraq and the failure to send more troops.

McCain, speaking to The Associated Press in an hourlong interview, said his comments were not a call for Rumsfeld's resignation, explaining that President Bush "can have the team that he wants around him."

Asked about his confidence in the secretary's leadership, McCain recalled fielding a similar question a couple weeks ago.

"I said no. My answer is still no. No confidence," McCain said.

McCain has no problem with the decision to go to war in Iraq, nor apparently with the initial invasion phase, in either planning or execution. Rather, McCain cited differences in opinions on troop levels, troop constituencies, and the overall post-invasion strategy -- sounding themes consistent with criticism from many across the aisle. The difference is in the timing, of course; McCain did not make these kinds of broad criticisms before the election. One suspects that he did not trust Democrats to use his words constructively -- and that he saw little to his liking in the contradictory and mostly isolationist strategies of the opposition.

It's no secret that McCain would love to be SecDef, but with Rumsfeld deciding to stay on (and with a Democratic governor to appoint his replacement), that opportunity simply will not appear during this term. McCain instead seems to be positioning himself from the hawkish center for a Presidential run in 2008, even though he will be 72 years old at that time. Another AP analysis shows McCain taking steroids (as an issue!!) to beef up his visibility on domestic politics.

All of this may well launch John McCain to the front of a crowded pack for the GOP's 2008 nomination. One wonders, however, if the GOP mainstream will have any enthusiasm for a maverick Senator who launched his bid by undermining confidence in a Defense secretary in what looks suspiciously like a ploy to suck up to the national news media.

Sphere It Digg! View blog reactions
Posted by Ed Morrissey at December 13, 2004 4:36 PM

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