Despite all the forecasts of doom for conservatives, it’s Morning in America again. Every expectation — created by the wishful thinking of the pundit class and the Dems — was that the Democratic control of the Senate would continue and the Republican majority in the House would be reduced. That would put Dubya in his place, prevent him from getting anything through Congress, and make him dependent on U.N. support for the war on terror. And pretty much all the pundits were wrong. The Dem casualty list is a long one among candidates and leaders. They should count themselves lucky. Whoever interprets the Gallup polls for Saddam has probably been taken out and shot.
Democratic Party Chairman Terry McAuliffe, who staked his reputation, such as it is, on defeating the President’s brother in the Florida governor’s race, was right in one sense. Dubya didn’t have coattails. This was a mile-long tow cable that pulled almost everyone into the winner’s circle. Enough. Dubya wisely advised against gloating, and there is too much to do to waste time on it. In the aftermath of this election, there is a whole lotta S@#t Goin’ On critical to defense and the war on terror.
Tempers are growing short in Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld’s office. Big Dog has finally decided to come to grips with the military leadership created by Miz Hillary. For eight long years, she intervened in selecting prospective generals, doing her best to weed out the warriors. Only a few escaped her attention. Mr. Rumsfeld realized long ago that the Clintons left behind too many bureaucrats and too few warriors. It’s pretty obvious that not even enough of the bureaucrats are signed on to his plans to modernize the military.
Mr. Rumsfeld’s frustration comes from the lack of progress on his transformational plan. That plan ran aground somewhere between the offices of Army Secretary Tom White and Chief of Staff Eric Shinseki. The other services are less guilty, but not much less. Mr. Rumsfeld sees the need to increase the tooth-to-tail ratio among service members, and believes you can do that and still cut the size of the force. He’s right, of course. On active duty now, there are about three bureaucrats for each warrior. But force reductions are heresy in wartime, even when the vast majority of the force is sitting in garrison, and doesn’t seem likely to ever do much else. Cuts in planned weapon systems, no matter how unnecessary or unaffordable, are an affront not only to the military, but to those in Congress who believe the DoD budget is a jobs program for their constituents. There will be much Pentagon political blood spilled in the next few months. Most of it will not be Mr. Rumsfeld’s.
Mr. Rumsfeld’s patience has worn thin, but not enough to actually fire anyone. He should have fired some of the uniformed leadership (such as Gen. Shinseki) some time ago. Instead Mr. Rumsfeld is now proposing to reduce the four-year terms of the Joint Chiefs to two years. Big Dog will never get the legislation necessary to do this through Congress, and the attempt is damaging significantly his already-strained relationship with the services. Better to fire some people outright, and do it quickly so we can get on with the Iraq campaign. The uniformed leaders both new and old would respect him more if he did that. Mr. Rumsfeld needs to get the Chiefs in line quickly because the Iraq campaign — despite the best efforts of Saddam, the U.N. and the Dems — is still very much on schedule.
Saddam’s response to the new U.N. inspection resolution is due later this week, and he’ll agree. He has no reason not to, given the preemptive surrender by Chief Inspector Clouseau, er, I mean Blix. Ol’ Hans has now promised “tactful” inspections. That means Blix will give notice of planned inspections, and guarantees they won’t find anything Saddam doesn’t want them to find. The inspectors may as well stay home. Tact, in this situation, is Dubya’s prerogative alone. As Churchill once said, when you have to kill a man, it costs nothing to be polite.
U.N. or no, the gloves are off. National Security Advisor Condoleezza Rice said that there would be military action if Saddam played games with the inspectors. The approved war plan apparently takes the best of the fast air and spec ops-dominated plan many — including yours truly — have been advocating, and follows those forces with the massed ground forces that Tommy Franks wants. All that remains is for the inspections to fail, and for the President to order the operation to begin. While the inspection charade plays out, it is possible — barely — that Saddam will take a powder with his family and a few billion in oil money. Saudi Arabia would probably take him in, and then claim credit for saving us from certain defeat. More likely is that Saddam will hunker down, and will be killed by his own troops, or by ours.
Before that campaign begins, Dubya will get his Homeland Security Department. Either now or in January the Senate will act to provide homeland security without regard to bureaucrat security. The Dems’ effort to save union rules in the new Department went down with Titanic Tom Daschle’s leadership. Then, and only then, will we be able to start dealing seriously with the main homeland security issue — intelligence — which the current bill doesn’t even touch. The most urgent issue is the fusion of intelligence gathering and analysis to make the FBI, CIA, NSA and the rest of the acronymic circus work together. Today, they are legally precluded from doing so. Dubya needs to act forcefully and quickly to solve this problem.
In the next Congress, defense issues will receive a slightly more sympathetic ear than in this one, but only marginally so. The new Dem House minority leader is going to be Nancy Pelosi, a dedicated liberal who will lead her troops to battle against every defense budget and every new weapon system. And never fear. Barbra Streisand hasn’t lost her spot as the Dems’ chief strategist and military expert. The best news? The Dem leadership is in denial, saying the only reason that Dems lost the election is that they didn’t get their message out clearly enough. What he doesn’t realize is that it was crystal clear. That’s why it’s Morning in America again. Saddam delendus est.