Sunday, August 31, 2014

An Alternate History Question: President Rumsfeld?

I think I found this link at, but in any case, it's a fascinating question, asked over at National Review Online. Go there and give it a read, and then I'll give my reaction.....

If Reagan Had Picked Rumsfeld as His Vice President, Would We Never Have Had President Clinton?
My reaction is maybe. Clearly, Rumsfeld would have been a good choice for Reagan. His resume wasn't as good as Bush's, but his credentials were solid. I doubt that he would have ever been perceived as wishy-washy as Bush was, and I'm virtually certain he would not have picked Dan Quayle as his VP. My guess it that it would have been either Jack Kemp or Howard Baker. Let's say Baker to add a Southerner to the ticket. He would certainly have won over Dukakis, for the same reasons that Bush did.

And, assuming that Gulf War I would have happened as it did, and the Soviet collapse had done so as well, I expect Rumsfeld would have been much better at taking credit for both, and would not have been challenged for the nomination by Pat Buchanan, changing the 1992 from a downer to an upper for Rumsfeld. Likewise, a Perot candidacy very well might not have taken place.  Now, with Baker on the Repubican ticket, Clinton would most likely not have picked Gore as his running mate, and would have gone with, say Jerry Brown, and regretted it. My guess is that the election would have been closer than in our history, but that Rumsfeld would have beaten Clinton and served a second term.

Then what? Baker would have been 67 in 1996, and probably would not have been nominated. Having lost, Clinton probably wouldn't have been nominated a second time. My guess: Mario Cuomo with Bob Kerrey as running mate would have beaten a Republican ticket of Phil Gramm and Arlen Specter. Cuomo-Kerrey would win again in 2000 against Lamar Alexander and Jack Kemp.

9-11 would have happened as it did in our time, but instead of Gulf War II, Cuomo would have responded in a more piecemeal fashion, accomplishing as much as Bush did, but not being perceived as well. This would have resulted in Fred Thompson-Rudy Giuliani beating a Bob Kerrey-Evan Bayh ticket in 2004 and being reelected in 2008 against Dick Durbin and John Edwards.

And in 2012, Rudy Giuliani, running with Mitt Romney, would have beaten the Democratic ticket of Chuck Schumer and Ken Salazar and he'd be President right now.

No Clintons, no Obamas.

Now, it's your turn. Pick this to pieces.
NOTE!  A commenter interpreted this post as my saying that Rumsfeld would have been a good President. NO NO NO!  He would have been a terrible President, at least as bad as Bush the First. This is just an alternate history speculation about what would have followed if he had been President. Me, I wanted Pat Buchanan to be President.


  1. Oh, crap. Wrong post. I meant to put that in the Star Trek post.

  2. Rumsfeld supported a program of dragging out the war in Iraq. Bush finally had to pull "the Surge" to end the war there. Of course, Obama's bunch pissed away the victory but Rumsfeld didn't want to win. Fuck him and the horse he rode in on.

  3. As I recall, after the Second Gulf War, the joint chiefs of staff (who had actually won the war) had had a plan as regards recovery: leave the Ba'ath army and civil servants in place, work with them to maintain continuity in Iraq under the new government.

    'Nay', saith Rumsfeld the Unspeakable. 'I shall instead send my minion, Paul Bremer the Incompetent, who hath no knowledge of the Arab tongue, the history of Iraq, or the slightest practical experience in diplomacy, as my consul, to work my will upon this benighted land.'

    And it came to pass that Bremer the Incompetent, as his first Order, directed that the Iraqi Army be disbanded, and that the whole order of command for that army be dismantled. And lo, Bremer's second Order was that the entire Iraqi civil service be fired, leaving all of that work of what the alleged wise call 'civil infrastructure' be left to the Allied Armed Forces, who were ill equipped to take on those burdens, in addition to keeping a peace broken by those hundreds of thousands of ex-Iraqi Army and civil servants who had nothing to gain in the new regime, and everything to gain by disrupting it.

    Thus it was that the shite well and truly hit the fan.

    And you want this consummate bozo as the President of our country? I doubt that even Obama could do as good a job in screwing things up. And that is saying something.

    Ex-Army, I generally like your work. You speak and think straight, generally. On this occasion, however, perhaps the less we talk about this, the better.

    P.S. I note that you cite Jerry Pournelle among your 'other sites of interest'. I would recommend that you read him more, particularly when he writes about the aftermath of Iraq, and the part that Rumsfeld and Bremer spent in losing the peace, after we had won the war.

    1. You're misreading it. This is a speculation about political dynamics. Nothing in it endorses Rumsfeld or his policies. Only part that could be said to praise him is the speculation that he would have been more politically agile than Bush I, therefore more likely to be reelected. I have nothing but contempt for him as a politician. Comparing Bush and Rumsfeld is like speculating whether Trotsky would have been better at dealing with Hitler than Stalin was.

    2. Dear Ex-Army,

      No, I do not think I am misreading it. Rather, I am starting by demonstrating the character of R. It was later in life, when his character had long been established, and he was the Secretary of the Defense, that R. continued to disregard the advice of his generals. I do not doubt that had R. become vice president under Reagan, he would continue to disregard his advisers (military and otherwise) when R had become President.

      Thus, when Saddam Hussain would have made his strike against Kuwait, R, legitimately concerned with Saddam's nuclear developments at Al-Tuwaitha, would probably have disregarded State and its concerns of not going all the way to remove Saddam, and after Saddam's removal, would have disregarded his military advisors and disenfranchised the Iraqi civil servants and military, thus bringing the current scenario more than a decade early.

      If you think that the American people were pissed at Bush for slogans like "Saddam Hussain still has his job" and "Read my hips", they would have been even more pissed to be stuck in the quagmire of Iraq, with yet more money going to the military, and no economic recovery in sight. Thus, R would have been a one-term president, and we would still see Clinton in the next term. The only question is whether the great and powerful O would have gotten in later.

    3. Actually, I agree completely with your evaluation of Rumsfeld and his policies.

    4. Thank you. You have a superlatively good weblog here. I hope you don't mind my occasionally lurking or infesting the place. I'll try to keep things 'pithy', as the great O'Reilly is wont to say.