The Campaign Spot

Election-driven news and views . . . by Jim Geraghty.

Rummy & Maverick, Not Even ‘Frenemies’


There’s not much doubt about how former secretary of defense Donald Rumsfeld feels about Sen. John McCain (R., Ariz.). In Rumsfeld’s memoir, Known and Unknown, there are four references to McCain; all of them are negative.

Page 273, discussing the 2000 presidential race:

Throughout the early part of the year I watched Bush with interest as he racked up primary victories, including Senator John McCain of Arizona, a man with a hair-trigger temper and a propensity to fashion and shift his positions to appeal to the media.

Page 573, discussing Guantanamo Bay:

Despite the more than $500 million that U.S. taxpayers have invested in state-of-the-art facilities at Gitmo, and in operations there since 9/11, both of the 2008 presidential candidates, John McCain and Barack Obama, pandered to popular misconceptions by promising to shut it down. . . . Years later, however, Guantanamo remains open, undoubtedly because the Obama administration, despite its promises, has not found a practical alternative. Eventually it may be closed, but it will be closed at great financial cost. More important, the problems Guantanamo was established to address will remain.

Page 634, discussing a controversy over U.S. payment to Uzbekistan for use of an air base to support the mission in Afghanistan, after an Uzbek government crackdown:

Some members of Congress began a campaign of condemnation of the Uzbek government. Two weeks after the events in Andijan, Republican Senators John McCain and Lindsey Graham traveled to the capital of Tashkent to deliver a public rebuke. “History shows that continued repression of human rights leads to tragedies like the one that just took place,” McCain lectured. Around the same time, I received a letter from McCain, cosigned by five other senators, insisting that America not pay the $23 million we owed the government from our military’s use of the Uzbek air base at K2. ‘Government security forces in the city of Andijan massacred hundreds of peaceful demonstrators,” they wrote. “We strongly object to making a payment to Uzbekistan at this time.”

I replied to the senators, “The bills we have from the Uzbeks are for services rendered in the war on terrorism. Our national policy, as a general rule, is to pay legitimate bills presented for goods and services by other nations.” Paying our bills, though occasionally politically difficult, was the right thing to do. What’s more, failing to pay for the services we had requested and received and the goods we consumed would send a harmful message to all of the other nations helping us that the United States could not be relied on.

Two months later, the Uzbek government told the U.S. it was no longer permitted to use the air base and U.S. forces would have to leave within six months.

Page 708, discussing the political environment after the 2006 midterm elections:

John McCain, in turn, was going to serve as ranking member of the Armed Services Committee. Without mentioning the president by name, he had been opportunistically undermining the administration’s policies in his quest for the Republican nomination for the presidency. It seemed to be his way of separating himself from President Bush and burnishing his image as a maverick without directly taking him on.

Tags: Donald Rumsfeld , John McCain


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