John Deutch's op-ed in today's New York Times, while possibly correct in its conclusions, is extraordinarily depressing to those of us of a certain age.
His basic point is that we need Robert Gates to run the Pentagon - because he is experienced and competent. Gates' involvement in Iran/Contra is to be ignored. His participation in propping up Saddam during the prior Bush administration must be forgotten. The Bush/Rumsfeld debacle is so enormous and so catastrophic that we must beg leaders to return who were instrumental in pushing failed, amoral, but slightly less disastrous policies - a dozen years ago.
Remember when Bill Clinton appointed a Republican, former Senator William Cohen as our Secretary of Defense? Clinton also appointed Bill Perry to the post. As General Shalikashvili* said when Perry retired: "Surely, Bill Perry has been the GI's secretary of defense." Perry was proudest of "his very strong bond with our men and women in uniform." (Sound like Rummy to you? * And yes, this is the same General who was fired for being honest about required troop levels in Iraq)
Today, Deutch noted that James Schlesinger "moved from the intelligence directorship to the Pentagon in the 1970s, and he is remembered for his fierce independence from the White House."
The idea that a cabinet level appointee should be independent from the President, should do anything other than slavishly obey the instructions from the President's Politcal Potemkin [aka: Karl Rove] is unheard of in this administration. Our round table is set for calculating courtiers, not a cabinet of independent thinkers.
Remember people like Elliot Richardson, and William Ruckleshaus? (Their refusal to fire Archibald Cox was finally reversed by none other than Robert Bork) Janet Reno may have been imperfect - but she was independent. Whatever you think of a Ramsey Clark -visionary or madman - his independence is undeniable. If you can, look at the list of Attorneys General in our country - it's quite an impressive group of people.
Not so for Abu Gonzalez - he tries to game the law in order to find ways to legitimize the illegal activities of the Bush Team.
It's just another example of Bush trashing our system of government, of his destroying traditions and institutions that made the U.S. what it should be.