I’ve just watched about all I could stand of George W. Bush’s press conference announcing the resignation of Donald Rumsfeld. Not surprisingly, he got a lot of questions about the implications of yesterday’s elections, and started yammering about his desire to work with Democrats.Yeah, right. Next thing he’ll be telling us he wants to be “a uniter, not a divider,” and usher in a “responsibility era.” Day before yesterday, he was finishing up a campaign swing that focused on the argument that the Democratic Party was basically a terrorist front organization. And even in today’s remarks, he couldn’t stop himself from suggesting that anyone who questions his and Rumsfeld’s sorry record on Iraq is undermining the troops and frightening the Iraqis.As for the timing of the decision to finally let Rummy go, a couple of years too late, I’m sure we’ll hear from right-wing chatterers that it couldn’t happen before Election Day because it would have discouraged the conservative “base.” If, God forbid, I were a conservative base voter, I’d be pretty damn insulted by the idea that Rumsfeld, who has done more to discredit Republican national security bona fides than anyone not named Dick Cheney, was one of my heroes. The real issue is that the administration needs to pretend it’s rethinking Iraq before Democrats ride into Washington, take over congressional committee gavels, and start asking questions about Iraq that should have been asked by Congress a long time ago.Rumsfeld’s proposed replacement, former CIA chief Bob Gates, is currently president of Texas A&M University. Let me be the very first to suggest his replacement in College Station: my colleague The Moose. He’d love to return to his native Texas; his original strategy of joining the staff of Governor Kinky Friedman hasn’t exactly worked out. And the timing’s perfect: he could get out of the political arena on a high note, just after the humiliation of Karl Rove and the apotheosis of Joe Lieberman, and before John McCain has a chance to break his heart. Despite his yankeefied higher education in New York and Ann Arbor, the Moose is totally an Aggie Wannabee. I can attest to the fact that he knows every word of the Aggie War Hymn, and can sing it at a considerable decibal level.So if anything really good is to come of the latest Bush maneuver, maybe this is it: A&M President Marshall Wittmann. To paraphrase the War Hymn:Rummy’s horns are sawed offRummy’s horns are sawed offRummy’s horns are sawed offShort! A!
TDS Strategy Memos
Latest Research from:
By Ed Kilgore
You might have missed a potentially significant political story involving a non-candidate for president, so I wrote about it at New York:
One variable in the fraught and complex 2024 presidential election has now been put to rest: Democratic senator Joe Manchin of West Virginia has announced he will not pursue an independent or “unity ticket” candidacy for president this year, as USA Today reports:
“Manchin made the announcement during a speaking engagement at West Virginia University for his recently created nonprofit group Americans Together, which is aimed at connecting and empowering moderate voices.
“’I will not be seeking a third-party run, I will not be involved in a presidential run,’ Manchin, 76, told the crowd. ‘I will be involved in making sure that we secure a president who has the knowledge, has the function and has the ability to bring this country together.’”
He argued that “the system right now is not set up” for candidates not affiliated with either major political party to win the presidency but said that in the “long game” there could be room to make a third party viable.
Manchin’s vow not to be “involved in a presidential run” seems also to preclude a vice-presidential candidacy, which had seemed a possibility if No Labels, the nonpartisan organization with which Manchin has been closely associated, winds up sponsoring a ticket headed by a Republican. His subsequent comment about the kind of president he wanted to help the country secure could indicate that for all his third-party flirtations and ideological heresies, Manchin might endorse a second term for Joe Biden. He could not possibly have been talking about Donald Trump by referring to a president who had “the ability to bring this country together.”
In any event, Manchin’s decision was good news for his party’s 2024 prospects. There’s likely a ceiling on Trump’s support well short of a popular majority, so it’s a strategic imperative for Biden to corral anti-Trump voters without too much competition from minor candidates, and particularly from a well-known Democrat.
The announcement obviously takes away one option for No Labels, which is reportedly in the process of interviewing potential candidates, even though the group has not formally decided whether to undertake a campaign (it has, however, secured ballot access in 13 states so far).
It also likely means Manchin has run his last campaign. He chose not to run for a third full term in the Senate this year, likely because West Virginia had turned so bright red that even a relatively conservative Democrat would have no real chance of winning, particularly in a presidential-election year. With no electoral base, the 76-year-old former governor will wind up his Senate service and presumably retire to his houseboat. His family already dodged one calamity this year when Manchin’s wife, Gayle, survived a serious car accident. A futile presidential run would not have improved their quality of life.