Along the Tracks

Friday, October 24, 2003
 

A sensible Democrat


I was quite intrigued while reading today’s press release from Eric Fingerhut (an Ohio Democrat who has announced his candidacy to challenge Senator George Voinovich in next year’s election) concerning the Rumsfeld memo recently leaked to USA Today.

Most Democrat’s have followed the lead of Senate Minority Leader Tom Daschle, calling the memo proof of failure and administration deception, when in fact it is pretty clearly meant to challenge underlings to “think outside the box” in an effort to win the War on Terrorism. Rumsfeld’s not admitting defeat, he’s demanding proof of success through measurable standards. In area’s where success is uncertain or lacking, he wants new ideas, new plans and new methods to achieve goals. To most thinking people (as opposed to blind partisans), that’s exactly what our leaders in Washington should be demanding.

Fingerhut's statement is very different. He actually speaks to the substance of Rumsfeld’s memo, and even agrees that a new agency devoted to fighting the War on Terror may be needed, as the Department of Defense is simply too lethargic to accomplish this task in a reasonable amount of time. To be sure, Fingerhut points to problems in Iraq as evidence that the military has “proven unprepared to deal with terrorist attacks launched against our troops” since the major combat phase ended, and blames it on poor planning by the administration. However, this is a serious, legitimate criticism that allows for constructive solutions - in opposition to Daschlites who find fault with everything as it is, find fault with every proposed solution to problems, and offer no alternatives whatsoever.

In contrast, here’s the Fingerhut’s press release, in full:

FINGERHUT COMMENTS ON RUMSFELD MEMO
Expresses support for new approach to fight terrorism at its roots

CLEVELAND, Ohio - State Senator Eric Fingerhut, candidate for the U.S. Senate, today expressed his support for the view recently expressed by Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld, that the creation of a new military institution may be necessary to lead the fight in the global war on terror.

“I fully agree with the sentiment expressed by Mr. Rumsfeld that there should be a new military institution focused solely on the war on terror,” said Fingerhut. “The global war on terror will not be fought and won on traditional military terms. It is long past time that the administration fully acknowledged this reality.”

The Department of Defense memo, which was printed in USA Today earlier this week, centered on combating terrorism at its roots. Rumsfeld questioned whether more terrorists are being produced on a daily basis than the number of terrorists being deterred, captured or killed by U.S. actions, and stated, “We lack the metrics to know if we are winning or losing the global war on terror.”

Rumsfeld also stated in the memo that, “It is not possible to change D.o.D fast enough to successfully fight the global war on terror. An alternative might be to fashion a new institution, either within D.o.D. or elsewhere - one that seamlessly focuses the capabilities of several departments and agencies on this key problem.”

In agreeing with Rumsfeld on his idea that new institution be fashioned, Fingerhut reflected that the military operation in Iraq is an example of the current hole in the U.S. national security apparatus.

“Our military clearly had no problem dealing with the conventional threat posed by Iraq’s military, including Saddam Hussein’s elite Republican Guard. But we have proven unprepared to deal with terrorist attacks launched against our troops in the aftermath,” said Fingerhut, continuing, “As a result, hundreds of our troops have been killed or seriously wounded. Victory in the war on terror demands a bolder approach, both broader in reach and more rapid in implementation.”

Fingerhut also suggested that the new military institution would combine skills in intelligence, rapid deployment, and diplomacy with high technology tracking and weapon delivery systems.


Fingerhut seems to understand: The public doesn’t want partisan automatons, it wants pragmatic problem-solvers. He has vaulted from run-of-the-mill Democratic slot-filler to serious candidate, in my book.


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