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Saturday, December 2, 2006

Rumsfeld Memo

posted by on December 2 at 22:57 PM

I’ll leave it to the learned and concerned to weigh in on the political ramifications of Rumsfeld’s final memo, printed in tomorrow’s NY Times (i’m linking even though you have to pay to read it; I’m sure it’s already up on every goddamn blog in the world). But let me just say this about its emotional impact (which, I know, is not super useful when talking about the Bush War anymore): I always had a hard time hating Rumsfeld, even as I recognized the degree to which his leadership was largely to blame for making the ineluctably terrible situation in Iraq far worse than it might have been. I don’t know why—possibly because he betrayed some hint of wit during his press conferences, unlike every single other member of Bush’s administration, who reveal only venality, mendacity, and meretriciousness every time they open their foul little mouths. I had this strange idea that among all the Ashcrofts, Rices, Fleischers, Bushes, and (especially) Cheneys, Donald Rumsfeld had a glimmer of humanity that might be able to influence his work one day. Despite everything, I just couldn’t hate him, the way I reflexively hated his confreres on an almost cellular level. I didn’t approve of his actions any more than I approved of any of the others’, but he always seemed like a person to me.

Then I read the memo.

I assume the memo will be read as a snidey vindication by some faction of the anti-war contingent (“even Rumsfeld admits Iraq is a mess!”), and a too-little-too-late by most people. Though I wanted to give the document (and its author) some credit for revealing that someone important was finally paying attention to reality, I found it to be all the more infuriating for its reversals. Things aren’t going well in Iraq after all these years. Here are some ideas I have to fix it. FUCK YOU. Where were you when anybody needed you? Not one item on the list of “above the line” suggestions for improving the situation wouldn’t have been more useful YEARS AGO, WHEN OTHERS WERE BEGGING FOR THEM TO BE IMPLEMENTED—except of course, for those ones that reveal BLATANT COWARDICE. One hates to use the term (because if you object to them using it, you really can’t go using it yourself and still be moral), but jesus: FLIP-FLOPPER!

All that is obvious enough, and has been or will be said better by smarter people than I, however, the suggestion that really got to me was this:

“Begin modest withdrawals of U.S. and Coalition forces (start “taking our hand off the bicycle seat”), so Iraqis know they have to pull up their socks, step up and take responsibility for their country.”

PULL UP THEIR SOCKS! TAKING OUR HAND OFF THE BICYCLE SEAT! With QUOTE MARKS! Just like a Republican mastermind to use the most asinine, just folks, middlebrow, all-American metaphors to backpedal from responsibility. Anyone who can even make the leap of analogy from U.S. forces shunting “democracy” into a country they just decimated to a dad teaching his kid to ride a bike is a moral idiot, and a defiler of language. Sure, these people are about to get abandoned, right before they get slaughtered, and it’s basically because of our poor planning… But maybe not if they pull up their socks and get at ‘er! Hey, buck up! Get some sticktuitiveness! Gotta grow up sometime! Fuck you forever, Rumsfeld. This memo doesn’t redeem you. It just shows what a deceitful, myopic turd you always were. Shame on me for imagining there was something moral in you. You just got demoted to Cheney’s sub-basement in hell.

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Welcome aboard.

Posted by Tom | December 3, 2006 1:32 AM

This fantasy Rummy you built is interestingly off mark.

He was 60 per cent of the problem. His power in this war is damming.

He smiles once in a while, or sure, the smug grin of the devil.

Posted by Sigurd | December 3, 2006 5:46 AM

Rumsfeld had read the tea leaves regarding the election and knew he was on his way out. As such, he knew that he'd be blamed for all that was wrong with the war. He didn't want to be Robert McNamara and take his lumps, so he put together this memo in order to seem flexible. His aids then leaked the memo this week prior to Gates' hearings on Capitol Hill so as to make for tough questioning for Gates and rehabilitate Rumsfeld's image further. It's a cowardly act. It's also well played.

Posted by B.D. | December 3, 2006 6:01 AM

Uh, yeah. I never saw the humanity in that guy. Not even a spark.

Posted by kate | December 3, 2006 10:27 AM

Rumsfeld is symbolic of the whole "failing upward" culture that infests not only government, but corporations and the clergy.

There's enough people in this country who are gullible enough to be impressed by a clean-cut older white guy, no matter how inept he is. I don't know if it's a national "daddy complex" or what, but I wish people would wake up to these morons.

It's a damming indictement against middle-aged white guys (especially since I am one myself) but it's true nonetheless. Just take a look at them: Bush, Cheney, Rumsfeld, Limbaugh, Dobson, O'Reilly, Haggard - the list goes on and on. All a bunch of bullies who pass their worst qualities off as "leadership", and never emotionally moved beyond the frat house.

We really should let women run everything.

Posted by catalina vel-duray | December 3, 2006 10:39 AM

#5: Depends on WHICH women. Ever heard of Margaret Thatcher? And take a good look at some of the GOPer females: Lynn Cheney - horrible; Laura Bush, and her m-i-l, Babs - nasty; Karen Hughes, Harriet Miers, Condimelda - there are some terrible women out there in positions of power at this moment, doing no one anywhere one whit of good.

Posted by isabelita | December 3, 2006 11:38 AM

A perfect memo for Mr. "morally and intellectually confused," giving the illusion of responsibility-taking, and one eye towards the history books.

Posted by golob | December 3, 2006 3:27 PM

Not sure what their being white has anything to do with it, but....
B.D.'s take is spot on. The dubious timing is pretty transparent.

Posted by Matt | December 3, 2006 9:20 PM

Sean, I'm amazed you were able to find some trace of humanity in Rumsfeld. To me he is the slimiest of the lot and had become my personal nemesis.

He is a supremely cold and calculating reptile devoid of any hint of mammalian compassion. Dismissive and snide, he has always refused to acknowledge that he shares any responsibility for the direction or execution of our nation's actions. His response to challenging questions is to project a grand, condescending arrogance, insinuating that the questioner is in way over their head and could never hope to understand the complex and unseen processes of the game he is playing and that to even ask such a question degrades the whole discussion and why don't you just have a seat now.

Don't mistake his raw contempt for wit, Sean. At best, it's venomous sarcasm. At worst, a yawning black vacuum that has nearly single-handedly cast our world into the abyss.

Demon, begone.

Posted by Paulus | December 4, 2006 1:33 AM

Rumsfeld's memo was ass covering, nothing more. Typical DC BS.

Posted by N | December 4, 2006 10:13 AM

Rummy always struck me as a dumb jock (which he was at Princeton) wasting time fucking around while making fun of his hard-working, competent betters.

Posted by keshmeshi | December 4, 2006 10:38 AM

As you know, you make do with the memo you've written. It's not the memo you want or wish to have at a later time.

Posted by him | December 4, 2006 12:41 PM

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