Reporters Tom DeFrank and Dana Milbank were on MSNBC last night discussing the Rumsfeld resignation rumors. (On Thursday, DeFrank reported in the New York Daily News that “White House officials are telling associates they expect Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld to quit early next year.”)
They both said that Rumsfeld would have been fired long ago if things hadn’t been going so poorly in Iraq. Firing Rumsfeld now would simply be too embarrassing for the administration. It’s the key to Rumsfeld’s success: he’s so incompetent, it’s impossible to let him go –
MATTHEWS: Is Rumsfeld in trouble?
DEFRANK: Well, I think he’s in trouble, but I think he’s been in trouble for well over a year.
MATTHEWS: With the president?
DEFRANK: Yes, but the president as we all know, is a very loyal guy. With rare exceptions, he doesn’t like to get rid of people when they’re under duress. And I think had Rumsfeld not been under such criticism a year or so ago, if the Abu Ghraib prison scandal had not broken, I think Rumsfeld would have been gone long ago. But I think now it appears that he’s on the glide path waiting for a graceful retirement after the first of the year.
MATTHEWS: Is anybody taking responsibility for saying we would be greeted as liberators?
MILBANK: No. The vice president certainly hasn’t. That’s not what anybody is doing. What is happening here is they’re hoping for an improvement, an uptick, in Iraq. That’s the sort of thing that could allow Rumsfeld to get out gracefully.