Thursday, November 09, 2006

Rumsfeld Retrospective

Funny piece by The Late Late Show
. I love being able to watch TV without actually having to watch TV.

No retrospective on Rumsfeld is complete without some of the poems found by Hart Seely, which appeared originally as part of a Slate magazine article that he later turned into a book called, "Pieces of Intelligence: The Existential Poetry of Donald H. Rumsfeld."

To me, the authorial voice that Seely found could be mistaken for Wallace Stevens, or Emily Dickinson, or e.e. cummings. In fact, if I were in college again, doing an English/PoliSci double major, I'd figure out a way to make the Rumsfeld canon the subject of a single paper to fulfill both senior theses... clever, lazy sod that I am.

The Unknown

As we know,
There are known knowns.
There are things we know we know.
We also know
There are known unknowns.

That is to say
We know there are some things
We do not know.
But there are also unknown unknowns,
The ones we don't know
We don't know.

—Feb. 12, 2002, Department of Defense news briefing

Glass Box

You know, it's the old glass box at the—
At the gas station,
Where you're using those little things
Trying to pick up the prize,
And you can't find it.
And it's all these arms are going down in there,
And so you keep dropping it
And picking it up again and moving it,
Some of you are probably too young to remember those—
Those glass boxes,
But they used to have them
At all the gas stations
When I was a kid.

—Dec. 6, 2001, Department of Defense news briefing


You're going to be told lots of things.
You get told things every day that don't happen.
It doesn't seem to bother people, they don't—
It's printed in the press.
The world thinks all these things happen.
They never happened.
Everyone's so eager to get the story
Before in fact the story's there
That the world is constantly being fed
Things that haven't happened.
All I can tell you is,
It hasn't happened.
It's going to happen.

—Feb. 28, 2003, Department of Defense briefing

The Situation

Things will not be necessarily continuous.
The fact that they are something other than perfectly continuous
Ought not to be characterized as a pause.
There will be some things that people will see.
There will be some things that people won't see.
And life goes on.

—Oct. 12, 2001, Department of Defense news briefing


I think what you'll find,
I think what you'll find is,
Whatever it is we do substantively,
There will be near-perfect clarity
As to what it is.
And it will be known,
And it will be known to the Congress,
And it will be known to you,
Probably before we decide it,
But it will be known.

—Feb. 28, 2003, Department of Defense briefing

Here's a brand new one I just found, from a press conference held on Nov. 26th, 2001, shortly after the attack on the Taliban and AQ in Afghanistan had begun:


Ah, yes
An unmanned aerial vehicle
An airplane without a pilot
An airplane that can go out and
Hover over the ground and see
What's taking place there.

And with that we'll excuse
Ourselves. Thank you.

BOO-YA! I JUST RIPPED YOU A NEW MEDIAL-CAESURA-HOLE, RUMMY! How ya like them apples, Hitler? < /moonbat >

Anyway I found that poem while looking for an SNL sketch, from probably the very Saturday before Nov. 26th, 2001, which featured Darrell Hammond as Rumsfeld, fielding questions from a press gaggle whose questions were comedic in their innocence and naivete (sample that I sort of remember: "QUESTIONER: The clusterbomb ammunitions we are using, why are we dropping those on them? RUMSFELD: To kill them. QUESTIONER: Oh....". AUDIENCE: (Uproarious laughter).

But that was back when the ashes of the WTC and the Pentagon were still smoking, and moral clarity was to be found in abundance, and for me, for the first time.

Dr. Evil he may be, but one detail I was kind of shocked that Bush omitted from his You're-Fired-Encomium was that Rumsfeld was in the Pentagon on 9/11 and spent the the first part of the day, like so many others, searching through the wreckage and helping his co-workers out. (He spent the second part of the day, and every day thereafter, planning for war. That is what they do in the Pentagon, believe it or not: plan for war). I think of him searching through the wreckage whenever he is called a Chicken Hawk. A Chicken Hawk, by definition, is someone who calls for war from the safety of his perch, with no danger of being physically harmed.


Just living in America, a target, makes us all in the war, by default and definitionally, if you accept that there is a war at all -- and some don't -- I know that. I've been arguing with them for five years.

But for Rumsfeld, how much more involved can you be, in a war, than being at Ground Zero... or being Ground Zero?


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