The Corner

Fox News Sunday Roundtable

From the Fox News Sunday Roundtable:

On Robert Gates

BRIT HUME: Well, I’m not sure we can expect very much change in policy. This resignation of Rumsfeld is, I think, almost entirely, purely political . . .

BILL KRISTOL: All the window dressing, the regional conferences, the diplomacy, the political stuff — ultimately we send enough troops to try to win the war or we try to find a way to get out without doing too much damage. And I’m skeptical that we can get out without doing too much damage. . . .

HUME: Let’s be clear about one other thing, Chris, here, in the advent of Bob Gates and the emergence soon of the Baker-Hamilton report. The conventional wisdom in Washington, the buzz in Washington, is that Bush 41 and his gang are back in town.

A couple of facts. Neither Baker nor Bush 41 were consulted ahead of time — was consulted ahead of time about the Gates appointment. President Bush the first got a phone call the morning of the Gates appointment giving him a heads up that it was about to happen. He had no foreknowledge of it.

That doesn’t sound to me like an atmosphere in which the president is turning back to his father . . .  for advice here. The striking thing about the relationship between the first President Bush and the second is that for all the devotion between them, they don’t discuss politics and political issues very much.

On Donald Rumsfeld

KRISTOL: I think he was a failure as defense secretary, though a very impressive man and a patriot. But I think he put everything — he put transformation ahead of winning the war in Iraq, which was a mistake. . . .And the fundamental failure to increase the size of our military, to increase the ground troops, after 9/11, when it was evident that we would have challenges . . . I think historians will say was a huge mistake.

And of course, the president — Brit’s absolutely right, the president had this vision, too. And it’s easy for me to blame Rumsfeld. The buck stops in the White House. But the failure to increase the size of the military was a huge failure for a defense secretary in a post-9/11 world.

HUME: . . . I think that it will turn out that Abizaid and Casey and Tommy Franks and the commanders who were responsible for formulating the whole Iraq military plan and strategy will turn out to be the very people who got the strategy and the force levels that they asked for.

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