Tuesday, March 29, 2011


I think about "once wasers." It's my term for famous, important people who have become "has beens."

Cheney and Bush get the Em prize -- I think of them as VIP "once-wasers." there are quite a few of them still around in government, and in the news right now. (Hearing them, scrutinizing them -- yes, I'm thinking of guys like Gingrich and Huckabee, as well as Sheen -- it's tiresome, often boring and annoying, but it helps me understand how we got into the messes we're struggling to get out of right now.)

Rumsfeld recently resurfaced with his book, "Known and Unknown." It was published by Sentinel last month and it's being sold on Amazon. As details of the book, quotes, and reviews have appeared, it is clear that Donald Rumsfeld is feeling feisty -- he has his combat boots on and takes the blame for almost nothing.

Our former Defense Secretary, as a private citizen, has been living and working on this book in his sprawling house on Maryland’s Eastern Shore, and also on his farm in Taos, N.M. He has been seen, occasionally, on lunch dates with old colleagues and friends, and, at 78, has had several operations to repair various joints. Also, he and his wife Joyce, have suffered through their son's drug problems, though Rumsfeld says that their son, Nick, is now drug free.

Mr. Rumsfeld writes that his biggest mistake was in not stepping down sooner. He blames Condoleezza Rice, Colin Powell, L. Paul Bremer, George Bush, and also John McCain.

Recounting his battles with Rice, Rumsfeld says that she wasn't equipped or capable -- she failed at managing the National Security Council, and she couldn't take criticism. (That fits in with what I felt about her -- I never felt safe with her as our Secretary of States.)

He is still exasperated with Powell, who as Secretary of State, implied that the administration misled him about weapons of mass destruction. Rumsfeld writes, “Powell was not duped or misled by anybody.” (And to me, Powell remains an extraordinarily honest man, who was duped and misled by the President and Vice President.)

Rumsfeld complains about John McCain, who said recently, “Thank God he [Rumsfeld] was relieved of his duties.” Rumsfeld says, "Senator John McCain is a man with a hair trigger temper and a propensity to fashion and changes his positions to appeal to the media." (We're seeing that aspect of McCain more and more, these days.)

About George Bush, Rumsfeld seems more protective. Rumsfeld said, "He [Bush] did not always receive and may not have insisted on a timely consideration of his options before he made a decision, nor did he always receive effective implementation of the decisions he made."

It sounds like quite a tangle in Rumsfeld's mind -- how "THEY" screwed me up." And L. Paul Bremer, the civilian Director of the American Occupation of Iraq, was the biggest messer-upper, according to Rumsfeld.

Again and again, Rumsfeld says all that went wrong was because Bremer was incompetent -- no single individual was in control of what was rebuilt and fixed in Iraq. "There were far too many hands on the steering wheel, which, in my view, was a formula for running the truck into a ditch."

Will you be reading Rumsfeld's book? I won't, but reading various reviews and quotes, it's quite clear to me that Rumsfeld didn't have the right kind of mentality for being the boss, the man in charge.

The common criticism is that Rumsfeld "micro managed" -- he was obsessed with itty-bitty numbers, lists, and details on the details. He gathered opinions and professional military judgments from his Generals, but the Generals made the decisions, not Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld.

Detractors and supporters alike say that on a personal level Don Rumsfeld is warm, funny, and generous. He is not a petty gossip, like Henry Kissinger. He’s a voracious reader -- talks for hours about current events and history. He dotes on children, knows everything about his friends’ kids. Even when he was Secretary of Defense, dinner guests could find themselves helping do dishes in the Rumsfeld's homey blue-and-green kitchen.

Hmm ... I think that kitchen-clean-up-the-dishes thing sums up what's wrong with the way he handled his job. He kept his house orderly, and let the guys he hired -- the cleanup staff -- decide what needed to be done, first, second, and last.

I think Rumsfeld belongs in the past along with Cheney and Bush, and his view of himself and his chapter in history says to me that the truth was built on a lot of lies.

Now that former Secretary of Defense Donald H. Rumsfeld has rejoined the world, and explained how all the other guys did wrong, he has a page on Facebook, and a regular Twitter stream.

I have to say, I prefer Don out of the limelight, retired, and in obscurity.

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