The forces of NBC, in the persons of Matt Lauer and Barry McCaffrey, launched a major attack on the enemy this morning. No, not on Al-Qaida or the Baathist dead-enders. We're talking of a real MSM enemy: Donald Rumsfeld.
Lauer began the assault by using yesterday's release of a videotape featuring Al-Qaida deputy leader Ayman al-Zawahiri to promote the notion of bad US troop morale. Lauer noted that Zawahiri was looking relaxed, answering questions, not bothering to be armed, and asked NBC employee, retired Gen. Barry McCaffrey, whether seeing such a tape motivated or frustrated the troops.
When McCaffrey didn't respond with a negative assessment of troop morale, Lauer tried another tack to produce the desired result:
Lauer: "But let me go back to it again. If you're one of the troops on the ground there and you're roughing it in Iraq and you've been there longer than you thought you were going to be there and you see this guy seemingly comfortable, doesn't it frustrate you a little bit?"
Again, McCaffrey wouldn't play along.
But Lauer was absolutely implacable, and when he tied the issue to MSM bugaboo Donald Rumsfeld, any reluctance of McCaffrey to sing from Matt's hymnal evaporated.
Lauer: "Sticking to the subject of morale, it's clear that there were miscalculations going into this war. Clearly the way we were going to be greeted hasn't turned out to be the reality, the level and the scope of the insurgencies [were underestimated], so when it comes again to military commanders and troops, do you feel they may be frustrated that back home in Washington no one has lost their job over this?"
McCaffrey: "Clearly bad judgments were made by the civilian leadership in the Pentagon going into this war. It got away from us, it didn't have to be this way. One would think Sec. Rumsfeld and others would be held accountable for it."
Lauer, finally sensing blood in the water: "These military people live by a code, among other things, of accountability, so do you think they would want someone like Sec. Rumsfeld or others to be held accountable?"
McCaffrey suggested that troops in the field wouldn't focus on that, but that "the military leadership" realizes that the civilian heads of the Pentagon engaged in "widespread" misjudgements.
Lauer, clearly now with his man in his sights: "You've heard the drumbeats for a while and it seems to be intensifying again [thanks to you, Matt] surrounding Sec. Rumsfeld. Do you think he's going to hold onto his job?"
Lauer hit the Mother Lode, as McCaffrey replied:
"I'm surprised to be honest he's still there. His judgments were egregiously wrong. He's staying now to shape the Armed Forces over the next 20 years. It's hard to imagine why someone who made that series of bad calls would be allowed to be the architect of future armed forces."
McCaffrey called on a number of senators to lead the anti-Rumsfeld coup. He described McCain, Hagel, Warner, Reed as people "who understand national security," and in a clear pitch for them to lead the revolt, said "it's about time for them to step in and make their views known."