Rumsfeld derangement syndrome

In a post below, I discussed the three main categories of Rumsfeld critics. But some criticism is so inane as to defy categorization. Consider this piece by Lawrence Korb and Peter Ogden who work for “The Center for American Progress,” an outfit run by Democratic operative John Podesta.

Korb and Ogden argue that “personal responsibility demands” that Rumsfeld resign over the events at Abu Ghraib. However, Korb and Ogden make no attempt to explain how Rumsfeld bears “personal responsibility” for those events. At the time they occurred, some argued that various actions by Pentagon set a tone that made Abu Ghraib inevitable (these hacks, though, couldn’t explain why the same actions failed to lead to similar abuses at other prisons). But Korb and Ogden don’t even make this half-hearted argument. Instead, they demand Rumsfeld’s resignation as a “public acknowledgment that something profoundly unacceptable has taken place, in spite of one’s best efforts.”

Under this logic, the Secretary of Defense would be obliged to resign anytime a major mishap occurs on his watch. But this consequence is absurd — public officials must be judged by the totality of their work not by one event, particularly an event like Abu Ghraib that cannot reasonably be attributed to anything the official did or didn’t do.

Instead of recognizing the absurdity of their stance Korb and Ogden embrace it. Indeed, they end up suggesting (as best as I can tell — the piece is badly written) that a series of former Defense Secretaries also should have resigned in the name of personal responsibility — William Perry over the Khobar Towers bombing; Harold Brown over the failed attempt to rescue American hostages in Iran; Caspar Weinberger over the truck bomb in Beirut that killed 241 American servicemen; and Les Aspin over the killing of 18 Army Rangers were killed in Somalia.

Ironically, though, Korb himself has refused to take personal responsibility for flip-flopping on whether we should withdraw from Iraq, electing instead to dissemble on the subject.

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