Gerald Ford talks about how great a guy Donald Rumsfeld was in the 1970s:
David Corn: Who wants to get into a cat-fight with former President Gerald Ford? But it does seem something of an act of desperation on the part of the pro-Rumsfeld camp that the 92-year-old Ford, who was the first president to hire Donald Rumsfeld as a defense secretary, issued a statement supporting Rummy. My hunch is that Ford wouldn't have done so without first consulting Rumsfeld, who also served as Ford's chief of staff at the White House. Below is the complete statement--and I have a reason for posting the whole thing, so read on:
I have been extremely troubled by the efforts of a group of retired generals to force the resignation of our Defense Secretary, Donald Rumsfeld. President Bush is right to keep him in his post. It is the President's decision -- and his alone.
Allowing retired generals to dictate our country's policies and its leadership would be a dangerous precedent that would severely undermine our country's long tradition of civilian control of the military. It would discourage civilian leaders at the Department from having frank and candid exchanges with military officers. And, today, at a time of war, such an effort sends exactly the wrong message both to our troops deployed abroad and to our enemies who are watching for any signs of weakness or self-doubt.
When I carried out my duties as Commander in Chief, I relied on a man who I appointed first as White House Chief of Staff and later asked to serve the country as Secretary of Defense. In those times, I needed someone with creativity, vision, and courage. And I found those qualities -- and much more -- in Don Rumsfeld.
President Bush came to office with an ambitious agenda to reform and modernize America's military. He knew that Don, who had been in the job before, was extremely well suited to take on this challenge and contend with a bureaucracy that has a built-in resistance to change. The President knew that successfully carrying out these missions, against stiff resistance, takes someone with a certain amount of steel.
When America's security remains under threat and terrorists plot to attack us at home, our country is fortunate that we have a Secretary and a Commander-in-chief in President Bush with the character and steadiness to hold firm to the right course.
Millions of Americans are proud and grateful for what they are undertaking. Betty and I count ourselves among them.
Pop quiz: how many times did Ford mention Iraq in that statement? Not once. If a Rumsfeld advocate cannot say, "he's done a heckuva job with Iraq," then there's no reason to view their praise of Rumsfeld as a true vote of confidence. Of course, anyone who did say such a thing about Rumsfeld and Iraq would not be credible. Sort of a Catch 22 for Rummy's side.