by David Weigel
Is there any possible political downside to a Democratic attack on Donald Rumsfeld? I don't think so.
Under assault from Republicans on issues of national security, congressional Democrats are planning to push for a vote of no confidence in Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld this month as part of a broad effort to stay on the offensive ahead of the November midterm elections.
In Rumsfeld, Democrats believe they have found both a useful antagonist and a stand-in for President Bush and what they see as his blunders in Iraq. This week, Democrats interpreted a speech of his as equating critics of the war in Iraq to appeasers of Adolf Hitler, an interpretation that Pentagon spokesman Eric Ruff disputed. But Democrats said the hyperbolic attack would backfire.
Rumsfeld has been the least popular figure in the administration for a while now; a few months ago, only 67 percent of Republicans thought he deserved to keep his job. The pro-war spin that Rumsfeld's "I'm OK, you're an appeaser" speech would redound to the GOP's benefit came from a belief that the "Islamofascist" meme was going to breathe new life into the administration's popularity; I think the meme was tainted by association with the Defense Secretary and his catastrophic tenure in office. It's more likely that Republicans will get on the "dump Rumsfeld" train than they'll make hay and fight Democrats over it.