Rumsfeld still falling down rabbit holes
Former secretary of defence is still not admitting his historic blunders
How awful are Ted Cruz and his Cruzettes? They have done the impossible. They have made Americans look back at the Bush II era, the most reckless wrecking ball in American history, with relative nostalgia. With 78 per cent of Americans feeling blue about the country being on the wrong track, according to a new NBC News/Wall Street Journal poll, many consider the GOP’s imperialistic unilaterists less loco than the narcissistic anarchists. As grandiose delusions go, global domination makes more sense than self-annihilation.
“If I was in the Senate now, I’d kill myself,” Chris Christie said on Friday. But before you start thinking Dick Cheney is temperate by comparison, consider the Commentary roast of the former vice-president last Monday night at the Plaza Hotel in New York. Cheney made a joke about waterboarding an antelope that he borrowed from Jay Leno. Donald Rumsfeld quasi-jested that he knew Dick “back when the president of the United States still led our foreign policy, instead of Putin”.
Ben Smith of BuzzFeed reported that the roast sponsored by Rupert Murdoch and others featured Rumsfeld, Joe Lieberman and Scooter Libby, known as “Cheney’s Cheney” until he was convicted of lying during a federal leak probe. Lieberman, a guest told BuzzFeed, said it was nicer to be at the Plaza than in cages after a war crimes trial. There were pardon jokes about W, whose relationship with Cheney was shattered over not giving Libby one. Libby said W sent a note: “Pardon me, I can’t make it.”
The acrid legacy of Cheney and Rummy lives on as they carp from the sidelines about the “so-called commander in chief”. In December, The Unknown Known, an Errol Morris documentary about the man who was the youngest and oldest secretary of defence, hits theatres.
Morris won an Oscar in 2004 for Fog of War, his documentary about another dangerous, delusional defence secretary with wire-rimmed glasses, Robert McNamara; in his acceptance speech, Morris warned that, with Iraq, America might be going down another “rabbit hole”.
But the cocky Rummy talked to him for 33 hours anyway. Unlike McNamara, however, Rumsfeld does not admit his historic blunders, but maintains his “stuff happens” brio. “You make a movie with the secretary of defence you have,” Morris told me dryly, “not with the secretary of defence you want to have.” Still, the filmmaker was smart to bookend the men, opposite ends of the same warmongering problem: McNamara was so droning and unemotive that he lulled listeners into thinking that nothing bad could be happening, while Rumsfeld was so energetic and blithe that it was hard to believe that people were dying and the war was being lost.