There’s a lot of talk going on right now about Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld. Many say he should be fired or forced to resign. They say he’s slightly responsible for the abuses Iraqi prisoners have suffered recently. They say he’s probably a liar. Regardless of whether or not these accusations are correct, I say, without the slightest hesitation, that Rumsfeld is the most entertaining man in politics.
Washington needs Rumsfeld. Where Bush is unable to form a coherent statement without use of a teleprompter, Rummy possesses an uncanny grasp of the English language. He can make words spin like tops, travel in wide arcing circles, climb, dive and then abruptly stop. He can answer questions from reporters not with facts, but with pithy jokes. He is an expert performer, and those that see him work his magic leave the room mesmerized, elated and just a little confused.
Let us look to a 2002 press conference for proof of his formidable talent. Rumsfeld was asked what information the United States possessed about Iraq’s development of chemical, biological and nuclear weapons. Few seemed to appreciate the radiance of his answer.
“As we know,” Rummy began while staring wistfully into space, “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.”
Rumsfeld’s forte, as far as I’ve been able to tell, is questions about Iraq’s ability to attack America with dangerous weapons – the whole reason we went over there in case you’ve forgotten. A reporter recently asked Rumsfeld if he still stood behind all he had once said about Iraq’s offensive capabilities.
“I believe what I said yesterday,” said Rummy with a sly smile. “I don’t know what I said, but I know what I think and, well, I assume it’s what I said.”
Only the comedian Sinbad amuses me more. Rummy’s answers are humorous, yet poetic. They’re flippant, yet deep.
“I would not say that the future is necessarily less predictable than the past,” Rumsfeld once mused. “I think the past was not predictable when it started.”
I’m a man, and a vaguely masculine one at that, but even I almost cried at the beauty of that phrase. It worked on so many levels.
How could anyone even think about firing Rumsfeld after all the memories he’s given us? Why, I remember this one press conference about a year ago where a reporter told Rumsfeld no evidence existed that Iraq posed a threat to America. A twinkle visibly entered Rummy’s eye.
“There’s another way to phrase that,” he started, “and that is that the absence of evidence is not the evidence of absence.”
I rubbed my hands together and turned up the volume on my television. I knew this was going to be good.
“It is basically saying the same thing in a different way,” he continued. “Simply because you do not have evidence that something does exist does not mean that you have evidence that it doesn’t exist.”
No one can predict the outcome of the election in November. I strongly dislike Bush. I also strongly dislike Kerry. If there’s one man that will sway my vote, it’s that old fart in the Department of Defense that likes to crack jokes, wax poetic and drop lots of bombs that kill and maim thousands of people.
Someone once said that the political world is just Hollywood for ugly people. I agree with that. Bush and Kerry seem like B-grade actors; guys that just can’t deliver their lines right no matter how many times they practice. Rumsfeld, on the other hand, is a true master. To stop such a brilliant performer after only four years would be like stopping a Shakespearean play after only one act.
Drew Atkins is a Daily Nexus columnist, sucka.