I don’t usually go national, but this is ridiculous. A few months ago, you might remember that a group of retired Army and Marine Corps generals called for the resignation of Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld. It was a big deal.

The San Diego Union-Tribune decided to weigh in on the row:

“Keep Rumsfeld” it proclaimed in an editorial April 18. “Sacking him would send the wrong signal,” was the subheadline.

In retrospect, there can be little doubt that Rumsfeld and his Pentagon team, especially the secretary’s civilian advisers, badly mishandled the Iraq conflict after the brilliant three-week military campaign that ousted Saddam Hussein’s dictatorship. The Pentagon provided far too few troops to impose security and order, a failure that produced chaos in Iraq. The Rumsfeld team also failed to anticipate the rise of a vicious insurgency that gained momentum in part because there were so relatively few American troops on the ground to stop it.

But these decisions are now history and Rumsfeld is hardly the only one to blame for them.

And the editorial board went on:

Sacking Rumsfeld would risk being seen abroad, including in Iraq and by America’s enemies, as a tacit repudiation of, or at least a retreat from, the whole Iraq mission.

It was a bizarre endorsement of the embattled defense secretary – basically saying that although the guy has had trouble, it would look really bad to fire him.

So the president decides to let Rumsfeld go this week and where does the U-T stand?

Is it sending the “wrong signal” as the editorial board had warned it would? Nope, quite the contrary. Here’s the editorial board’s take today: “Pentagon change is welcome but no panacea.”

There is much to like about President Bush’s decision to replace Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld with former CIA Director and Deputy National Security Adviser Robert Gates, a respected member of his father’s foreign policy team. As Bush said, there is great value in bringing a “fresh perspective” to his administration as it wages war with greatly mixed success in Iraq, Afghanistan and against international terrorism.

Do you think they even remember what they wrote six months ago? Why would it have been such a disaster six months ago to replace Rumsfeld but this week it is a move of “great value?” How can you just contradict yourself like that and not even acknowledge it?

SCOTT LEWIS

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