Stale Cakewalk

by digby

Everybody's talking about the the neocon rats deserting the sinking ship article that's coming up in the December Vanity Fair. It's a doozy. There are two excerpts however that I think are just priceless.

First, there's Michael Ledeen, who sent his totally inexperienced 29 year old daughter to Bagdad to work as a financial advisor for the Coalition Provisional Authority in the early days of the invasion, blaming it on the bitches:

"Ask yourself who the most powerful people in the White House are. They are women who are in love with the president: Laura [Bush], Condi, Harriet Miers, and Karen Hughes."

The other is Ken "Cakewalk" Adelman:

And if he, too, had his time over, Adelman says, "I would write an article that would be skeptical over whether there would be a performance that would be good enough to implement our policy. The policy can be absolutely right, and noble, beneficial, but if you can't execute it, it's useless, just useless. I guess that's what I would have said: that Bush's arguments are absolutely right, but you know what, you just have to put them in the drawer marked can't do. And that's very different from let's go."

The same guy who Bob Woodward spoke to in 2004 for his book "Plan of Attack;"

Former Reagan administration official Kenneth Adelman, a prominent neoconservative, had authored an op-ed piece in the April 10, 2003 Washington Post entitled "Cake Walk Revisited," gloating over what appeared to be a quick victory in Iraq and reminding readers that, 14 months earlier, he had written that the war would be a "Cake Walk."

Cheney read the article and congratulated Adelman on his "clever column," which, he said, "really demolished them." Cheney and his wife, Lynne, invited the Adelmans to join the Cheneys on April 13 for a "small private dinner" with Deputy Defense Secretary Paul Wolfowitz and Cheney's chief of staff, I. Lewis (Scooter) Libby.

Adelman was so happy that he burst into tears at the door of the vice president's residence that Sunday. He hugged Cheney for the first time in the 30 years he had known him. "We're all together," Cheney said. "There should be no protocol; 'let's just talk.'"

Wolfowitz proceeded to embark on a long review of the 1991 Persian Gulf war. "Hold it, hold it," Adelman interjected. "Let's talk about this Gulf war. I have been blown away by how determined the president is. The war has been awesome."

Adelman said he had been "worried to death that there would be no war as time went on and support seemed to wane."

"Yes," agreed the vice president. "And it all began the first minutes of the presidency, when Bush said they were going to go full steam ahead...This guy was just totally different," Cheney said. "He just decided here's what I want to do and I'm going to do it."

Writes Woodward, "It was a pretty amazing accomplishment, they all agreed, particularly given the opposition to the war. Here was Brent Scowcroft, the pillar of the establishment foreign policy, widely seen as a surrogate for the president's father. There had been James A. Baker III, the former secretary of state, insisting on a larger coalition of nations."

Talk turned to the current secretary of state, Colin L. Powell, and there were chuckles around the table. Cheney and Wolfowitz agreed that, as Cheney put it, Powell "was someone who just followed his poll ratings and bragged about his popularity. He sure likes to be popular. Colin always had major reservations about what we were trying to do." (Washington Report on Middle East Affairs, June 30, 2004)

Adelman claims that he's just shocked about Don Rumsfeld's performance:

"The problem here is not a selling job. The problem is a performance job.… Rumsfeld has said that the war could never be lost in Iraq, it could only be lost in Washington. I don't think that's true at all. We're losing in Iraq.… I've worked with [Rumsfeld] three times in my life. I've been to each of his houses, in Chicago, Taos, Santa Fe, Santo Domingo, and Las Vegas. I'm very, very fond of him, but I'm crushed by his performance. Did he change, or were we wrong in the past? Or is it that he was never really challenged before? I don't know. He certainly fooled me."

Uhm no. He was always full of shit and so was Ken Adelman:

March 23, 2003

Kenneth Adelman, a former Reagan arms control official who is close to top Bush military officials and serves on a Pentagon advisory panel, said these weapons are likeliest to be found near Tikrit and Baghdad, "because they're the most protected places with the best troops."

"I have no doubt we're going to find big stores of weapons of mass destruction," Adelman said, though he acknowledged some surprise that they have not been used yet. "One thing we may find is Saddam Hussein ordered them to be used and soldiers didn't follow the orders. The threat of use goes down every day because adherence to orders goes down."

March 30, 2003

MR. STEPHANOPOULOS: Finally, weapons of mass destruction. Key goal of the military campaign is finding those weapons of mass destruction. None have been found yet. There was a raid on the Answar Al-Islam Camp up in the north last night. A lot of people expected to find ricin there. None was found. How big of a problem is that? And is it curious to you that given how much control U.S. and coalition forces now have in the country, they haven't found any weapons of mass destruction?

SEC. RUMSFELD: Not at all. If you think -- let me take that, both pieces -- the area in the south and the west and the north that coalition forces control is substantial. It happens not to be the area where weapons of mass destruction were dispersed. We know where they are. They're in the area around Tikrit and Baghdad and east, west, south and north somewhat.

Adelman throwing Rumsfeld under the bus is rich. There is no difference between them. They are both incompetent, ideological zealots who have never been right about anything.

Update: Kevin Drum correctly says this pathetic attmpt by the neocons to separate themselves from the architects of the war should be drowned in the bathtub. Iraq was their baby:

The neocons have always been idealists, and their ideals saw full flower in the Iraq war. A show of force in one country, plenty of threats against its neighbors, a disdain for multilateral action, and an occupation designed to be a showpiece of conservative ideology rather than a serious attempt at reconstructing a society. That's what the neocons wanted, and that's what they got. The rest is details.

The failure of Iraq is inherent in the naive idealism and fixated ideology of neoconservatism, and shame on us if we let them get away with suggesting otherwise. This is one rehabilitation project that needs to be stopped dead in its tracks.

The starry-eyed neocons are more than idealists. They are full-on magical thinkers who actually believed that if we deposed Saddam, the mere sight of our mighty army on the field would be enough to make everyone behave exactly as we wanted them to. That what puts the neo in neoconservatism. They are idealistic in the sense that they believe we won't have to actually kill hundreds of thousands of people but merely rattle our giant codpieces and the enemy would capitulate out of pure shock and awe.

They know even less about human nature than the paleos who, at least, are clued into to the real human id. These guys are dreamier than dreamiest liberal idealist but they love to play with big, loud toys that go boom.

Adelman does say one thing I hope is true in the VF piece:

"the idea of a tough foreign policy on behalf of morality, the idea of using our power for moral good in the world"—is dead, at least for a generation.

Good riddance. Consciously letting loose the most powerful military in the world for the pupose of "sending messages" and creating democracy and freedom at the point of a gun is a ridiculous idea. We have many other powerful tools in our toolbox that work a helluva lot better and don't include "liberating" 600,000 people from their lives.

Update: I just realized that Adelman quoted Cheney saying "it all began the first minutes of the presidency, when Bush said they were going to go full steam ahead...this guy was just totally different, he just decided here's what I want to do and I'm going to do it."

Six years later, hundreds of thousands of deaths later, he said almost exactly the same thing to George Stephanopoulos this week-end:

"The president has made clear what his objective is and that's victory in Iraq. We're full speed ahead on that...It may not be popular with the public — it doesn't matter in the sense that we have to continue the mission and do what we think is right. And that's exactly what we're doing. We're not running for office. We're doing what we think is right."

They have not grown or changed one iota from the first moments of their presidency.

Update II: Weldon has found an amazing example of a fresh faced neocon hanging in there in Foreign Policy magazine. He thought it might be a satire. It isn't.