This week’s weirdest piece of political news may well be yesterday’s Los Angeles Times story titled “Retired Officials Say Bush Must Go.” Times reporter Robert Brownstein reports that a group calling itself Diplomats and Military Commanders for Change plans to issue a statement declaring that President G.W. Bush has endangered U.S. “security” in the way he has conducted the war in Iraq and should be defeated in November. The group’s claim to fame: Several of its key organizers held appointments under Bush’s father and Ronald Reagan. The purpose of the statement seems to be to shock. It is unprecedented for former top administration officials to urge the ouster of a sitting president, so this presumably nonpartisan declaration must be serious. Kind of like when a bunch of Brit former officials issued a statement condeming U.K. Prime Minister Tony Blair earlier this year for being too tight with the U.S. and Israel.
One big problem: I’ve never heard of practically anyone on the list of 26. In fact the only familiar name to me is Retired Adm. William J. Crowe. He indeed was chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff under Reagan, although his last federal appointment (1993-97) was as ambassador to Britain under Bill Clinton. Retired Marine Gen. Joseph P. Hoar commanded U.S. forces in the Middle East under G.H.W. Bush. There’s another guy–William A. DePree–who was ambassador to Bangladesh under Reagan, and another one–Donald B. Easum–who was ambassador to Nigeria under, um, Gerald Ford and Jimmy Carter….
To quote Brownstein’s story:
“One senior Republican strategist familiar with White House thinking said he did not think the group was sufficiently well-known to create significant political problems for the president.”
To quote Lucianne commentator ScienceMike on Brownstein’s story:
Hoar has already gone on the record criticizing the Iraq war, he and some other signers openly support the candidacy of Democratic contender John Kerry, and indeed most of the signers of the statement served under some Democratic administration or other. It’s hard not to wonder whether the Kerry campaign has something to do with all this alarm about national security. But noooo.:
“The signatories said Kerry’s campaign played no role in the formation of their group. [Signer] Phyllis E. Oakley, the deputy State Department spokesman during Reagan’s second term and an assistant secretary of state under Clinton, said she suspected ‘some of them [in the Kerry campaign] may have been aware of it,’ but that ‘the campaign had no role’ in organizing the group.
“Stephanie Cutter, Kerry’s communications director, also said that the Kerry campaign had not been involved in devising the group’s statement.”
Uh-huh, pure high-mindedness on the part of our patriotic oldsters.