Thursday, November 01, 2007

Hillary and Rummy: That Certain Feeling

The blogs are alive with the sound of musing about Tuesday night's Hillary Clinton scrum as we learn this morning that Donald Rumsfeld, when he was not patronizing the media at press conferences, was writing 20 to 40 memos a day telling everybody else in the Defense Department how to do it.

As the war in Iraq went south, the former Secretary of Defense added insult to injury by maintaining his maddening certainty about everything. As Hillary Clinton comes under attack, her antagonists are belaboring her, at least in part, for not displaying Rumsfeldian certainty on every subject.

When she paid voters the compliment of thinking out loud about driver's licenses for immigrants, a subject that has no easy yes-or-not answer, the other candidates jumped her. John Edwards, as always, was the most shameless:

"Senator Clinton said two different things in the course of about two minutes...I think this is a real issue for the country. I mean, America is looking for a president who will say the same thing, who will be consistent, who will be straight with them. Because what we've had for seven years is double-talk from Bush and from Cheney, and I think America deserves us to be straight."

Clinton may have been too flummoxed to point out that saying the same thing is the Bush-Cheney hallmark, that a human being with an open mind is exactly what's needed in the Oval Office rather than a priss who keeps reminding us how "straight" and honest he is.

There was much of substance with which to confront the front runner, particularly her vote on the Kyle-Lieberman Amendment, but her challengers can't have it both ways--portraying her as cold and calculating, and then piling on when she shows ambivalence about a complicated question.

Rumsfeld gave us enough certainty to last a lifetime, and Bush and Cheney are still dishing out more.

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