In the matter of whether Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld should stay at the Pentagon or retire to the good life: Former President George H. W. Bush should step in and tell him it's time to step aside.
Recall that it was George W. Bush himself who issued the tough talk to John Sununu, then chief of staff to Bush 41. Sununu was under fire for using government transportation for personal use, and his arrogant manner didn't help his cause.
Once a lightning rod for 41, Sununu became an embarrassment. A stubborn man, the former New Hampshire governor refused to resign and blamed his problems largely on the press. (Isn't it always that way?)
President 41 was a softie when it came to firing people. So it fell to George W. to come to Washington from Texas to tell Sununu he was a drag on Dad's presidency. Unhappily, the ornery Sununu stepped down.
So where is Dad now? And how about Gov. Jeb Bush of Florida? Little brother could play a role in passing the word to Rumsfeld.
Meanwhile, the gaggle of retired generals calling for Rumsfeld's ouster grows daily. It is no small matter that these flag officers, many of them with service in Iraq, are urging Rumsfeld to leave. Forget that some of them may be nursing personal hurt from Rumsfeld's dictatorial manner.
Back in 1974, Rumsfeld returned to Washington from assignment in Brussels to head a chaotic White House staff for President Ford. Ford staffers and Nixon holdovers, following Nixon's resignation, were in conflict.
A tough and determined Rumsfeld came in, quickly saw the dire situation, and got rid of the Nixon staff. At the time, many of us covering Ford wrote that Rumsfeld's actions were necessary and right. In fact, Rumsfeld emerged with solid credentials as a can-do operator.
How times have changed.
A much older Rumsfeld is at the center of the misjudgments in Iraq. While the president assumes ultimate responsibility for those failures, Rumsfeld is the prime mover and strategist. It is an understatement that things have not gone well on Rumsfeld's watch.
So, former President Bush and Gov. Jeb Bush, it is time for you to step up to the plate. Your son and brother won't do it. Cheney is in deep trouble, too, and he can't do it as a former prot駩 of Rumsfeld. Either of you need to do it.
Or maybe Joyce Rumsfeld, the secretary's devoted wife and a good person, can intervene. Surely she is weary of reading and hearing about her husband's failures.