Saturday, December 09, 2006

Rumsfeld: by golly, it’s important


Well, the transcript of Rummy’s last “town hall” meeting is out now, although I stand by yesterday’s preliminary reaction: “oh just fuck off already.”

What struck me is how often he disparaged the press during it. For someone who’s supposed to be this blunt guy who doesn’t care what people think about him, he seems awfully thin-skinned. Examples:
-“we’ve not always seen eye to eye, I haven’t, with the press, but I still hold out hope that over time, they’ll get it close to right”
-“[Soldiers] stood guard in Guantanamo over some of the world’s most dangerous terrorists, while suffering grossly uninformed and irresponsible charges in the media from almost every quarter”
-Asked how he wants history to remember him: “My goodness. Better than the local press.”

And he described the program of bribing Iraqi newspapers as “trying to reduce the number of people getting killed over there by asking people to print the truth, and paying them to do that.”

Also, asked what was his worst day in the job, he said, “the worst day was Abu Ghraib and seeing that -- what went on there and feeling so deeply sorry that that happened.” Abu Ghraib wasn’t a day, it was long months and years of abuse and torture; by day, he means the day it came into the light; that’s what he’s deeply sorry about. Even then, he insists that Abu Ghraib “demonstrated to the world how our democracy deals openly and decisively with such egregious wrongdoing. And yes, I remember the irresponsible comments by some who tried to sully the image of the courageous and dedicated men and women in uniform who keep the American people safe.”

Rumsfeld, as we know, was never been able to comment on anything critical of him that appears in the press or in books because he hadn’t read it yet (examples here and here), and guess what, he hasn’t read all of the Baker Commission report either. But one gets the sense that he’s not terribly impressed: “And there are some people who say, ‘Well, you should do this or that or the other thing,’ and I can tell you I can’t think of a thing that anyone thought of that General Pace and General Abizaid and those folks have not been working on and analyzing and studying and adjusting to over time.” In fact, he’s not terribly impressed with anyone advising Bush on Iraq whose name is not Donald Henry Rumsfeld: “He’s been meeting with outside academics and people, so-called experts”.

So if he doesn’t read reports, newspapers, or the ISG report, what does he read? History books, he says, by which he means what your average chain bookstore means by “history books”: books about wars. The Revolutionary War, World War II, and he tried to read about the Civil War, but found it too upsetting because the people killed in it were all Americans. Yes, he really said that, the man who wants us to respond to deaths in Afghanistan and Iraq with “patience” and “staying power.”

By the way, the lesson he gleaned from reading about World War II is that we shouldn’t count the Iraq war as having lasted longer than American involvement in World War II, because that’s “totally ignoring the period after World War II, where the German government didn’t even have a government I don’t think until 1949”. 1949 was when everyone gave up on re-unifying Germany and officially formed two separate states.

His final words – and you just know one of those final words was golly – two of them, in fact – on our military adventures: “But by golly, it -- something important isn’t easy, and this isn’t easy. And by golly, it’s important, and we’d better do it right.”

Jackass. Dick. Motherless motherfuck.

(Update: and then he went to Iraq for a, um, victory lap. Can you do a quagmire lap?)

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