Kristol: Bush No Longer Believes Rumsfeld’s ‘Happy Talk,’ But Is ‘Unwilling to Second-Guess’ Him

Last night, Weekly Standard editor Bill Kristol appeared on the Charlie Rose show and reported from inside knowledge that President Bush is “not believing the happy talk any more that he was getting from Rumsfeld.” But, Kristol claimed, Bush will not replace the Secretary of Defense because he’s “unwilling to second-guess Rumsfeld’s fundamental understanding of the use of the military” in Iraq. Watch it:


As Sen. Hillary Clinton pointed out at a recent hearing, Rumsfeld’s “fundamental understanding” of Iraq has been consistently wrong every step of the way. At one point, Rumsfeld even acknowledged surprise at the hostility the troops faced in Iraq. Bush’s unwillingness to question Rumsfeld or challenge his decisions has prevented the strategy in Iraq from advancing past “stay the course.”

Full transcript:

KRISTOL: I wish the president — I think the president I’m told by someone who spoke to him recently, the president is not believing the happy talk any more that he was getting from Rumsfeld and I’m afraid from some of the generals. that he’s alarmed about the situation in iraq. He’s unwilling I think to second-guess Rumfeld’s fundamental understanding of the use of the military there and I think that’s a big problem. But perhaps he will make some tactical changes. Perhaps they’ll work. Perhaps — we do still do have a unity government there that has real support.

And so I don’t think it’s by any means — I’m less fatalistic than Richard [Holbrooke]. But I don’t disagree about his fundamental concern about the situation, his alarm about the situation. I’m certainly not at the point of saying that we’d be better off getting out and I don’t think the president is. And I think, you know, let’s see where we are three, six months from now. We can continue.