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December 5, 2006

Rumsfeld’s Memo: The Larger Picture


If the Rumsfeld memo moved through the media like a sonic wave, shattering any last doubt this Administration could conduct a war, there was even more to the piece of paper than that.

What the LA Times photo editors picked up on, in choosing this spot-on photo to accompany their story, is what Rumsfeld and this Administration are good at instead.  If you read the memo, what you see (besides a scratch list of one-to-two-line random and contradictory ideas) is a prevailing concern for spinning, not winning.

In the following excerpts, notice how Rumsfeld’s mind is focused as much or more on the perception of the policy, as it is on the policy itself.  (Italics mine).

“Recast the U.S. military mission and the U.S. goals (how we talk about them)….”

“Publicly announce a set of benchmarks agreed to by the Iraqi government and the U.S. — political, economic and security goals — to chart a path ahead for the Iraqi government and Iraqi people (to get them moving) and for the U.S. public (to reassure them that progress can and is being made).”

And what about this one (which the phrase “stay the course” practically an indictable offense).  Rumsfeld writes:

“Announce that whatever new approach the U.S. decides on, the U.S. is doing so on a trial basis… This will give us the ability to readjust and move to another course, if necessary, and therefore not ‘lose.’ ”

Don’t you just love that “whatever?”

Here’s what the memo confirms:  Rummy’s style as Defense Secretary was just to wing it.  And to obfuscate that fact, he was well practiced in the art of misdirection — and cliche.  (So, who put our hands on the bicycle seat, exactly, and who couldn’t figure out how to pull up his socks?)

… But then, as long as the American people felt that real progress was being made, all Donald had to do was stand there and gesture while, below the radar, he “went minimalist” and keep it all stealth.

(image: AFP / Getty Images.  File photo. Published December 3, 2006.

  • lemond54

    Yeah, sounds like Rummy was pitching ideas to Rove, not to GWB.

  • weisseharre


  • MonsieurGonzo

    lose in air quotes is really the message; it says it all, don’t you think? indeed, imho BAGman you should have just blown up that visual metaphor
    …as The Topic du Jour (because i can’t figure out WTH your post has to do with an image of Mr. Rumsfeld posing in classic, pointing poise in front of a stealth bomber). Jon Stewart did an hilarious skit about the euphenisms = air quotes; and Frank Rich, among others, has a recent OpEd essay out about the damage done to language by the relentless up-is-downism spinning and otherwise cynical effects all this has had on public discourse: the cynicism of the electorate, yadda-yadda, an entire generation now quite leery of language.
    Here the intended meaning of the Rumsfeld Snowflake has become entirely visual.
    iow, this “ ” is the
    “ BAGnewsNote ”

  • D from MO

    I loved/hated the bicycle metaphor. Besides being firmly rooted in spin, what a bunch of chauvinistic punks–I also would hate to cooperate with them if they had come in and ruined my country’s infrastructure and then blamed me for the same.

  • ummabdulla

    That Stealth bomber doesn’t look stealthy at all up close. With the wheels front and center, it sort of looks like it’s coming up behind Rumsfeld to run him over. And it reminds me of Darth Vader’s helmet. (Hmmm… does that represent Dick Cheney?)

  • lower_case A

    Rumsfeld says, “Pull my finger. Go on, I dare ya’!”
    Good riddance! Cretin.

  • GeorgeF

    Just compare: This is a pretty expensive piece of engineering with a hell of high-tech built in. And what ist it doing? getting to a target unrecognized, releasing a big bomb and – boooom! The Iraqis do it much cheaper: take a rotten old taxi-cab, load it with half a ton of dynamite, drive it unrecognized directly to the target and – booom. I believe, thre are many more rotten old taxi-cabs in Baghdad than the US Air-force has B-1es!That’s why this war cannot be “won”by the US-forces.
    I really become suspicious, once civilians pretend to be the best militarists.

  • lytom

    Looney guy with a mike in front of him and a finger, (lower_case A), I loved it as you described it.
    Evil dropping stealth behind….Propaganda in full force!

  • Thom

    Hey, sorry about being off topic, but I’d really love to see your take on the large “Welcome to the Social -Zune” ad currently up at Fark.
    You might not want to read my take before you see it, but here it is to read when you like. Plainly put: First take was a woman with a cock in her hand near her widely opened mouth with a somewhat pained expression her face. And the “hands” graphic overlayed on the bottom in stark white, well, they looked like stains…of some sort.

  • Phydeaux

    It’s obvious, as Defense Secretary he’s giving directions. What he said was, “I dunno, take a left past the water tower and I think it’s the third bunker on the left.”

  • lower_case A

    He then added, “and east, west, south, and north somewhat”.

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