Friday, November 10, 2006

Thinking Makes It So

"We know truth, not only by reason, but also by heart."
-- Pascal

Give Him Enough Rope: The Wit & Wisdom of Donald Henry Rumsfeld

Love him or hate him, the longest-serving Secretary of Defense provided endless comic fodder for his detractors and supporters alike with his verbal and linguistic gymnastics and flights of fancy. Rumsfeld, the former collegiate wrestler at Princeton, was more like the old Southern football coach who stayed on the job a little too long and let the game pass him by -- sticking with the wishbone formation while all around him opponents were moving to a shotgun offense and throwing the ball down field.

Ironically, his attempts at modernizing the military created a backlash of resentment and an accompanying lessening of morale. But for all his stubbornness and ineffectiveness, it was not Rumsfeld but Bush who should have been falling on his own sword Wednesday; instead we're left with the image of the draft-dodging president pushing his top soldier out the door, and there was something undeniably shabby & unseemly about the whole ordeal -- even by Washington standards.

So let's give old Rummy the last word(s) here. After all, he gave us something to laugh about in the midst of a brutal, nasty war that was anything but humorous, and that may be his most enduring legacy.

"I would not say that the future is necessarily less predictable than the past. I think the past was not predictable when it started."

"We do know of certain knowledge that he [Osama Bin Laden] is either in Afghanistan, or in some other country, or dead."

"We know where they are. They're in the area around Tikrit and Baghdad and east, west, south and north somewhat." –on Iraq's weapons of mass destruction

"Death has a tendency to encourage a depressing view of war."

"Freedom's untidy, and free people are free to make mistakes and commit crimes and do bad things." –on looting in Iraq after the U.S. invasion, adding "stuff happens"

"As you know, you go to war with the army you have, not the army you might want or wish to have at a later time."

"I am not going to give you a number for it because it's not my business to do intelligent work." -asked to estimate the number of Iraqi insurgents while testifying before Congress

"There's another way to phrase that and that is that the absence of evidence is not the evidence of absence. It is basically saying the same thing in a different way. Simply because you do not have evidence that something does exist does not mean that you have evidence that it doesn't exist." -on Iraq's weapons of mass destruction

"It is unknowable how long that conflict [the war in Iraq] will last. It could last six days, six weeks. I doubt six months." -in Feb. 2003

"Well, um, you know, something's neither good nor bad but thinking makes it so, I suppose, as Shakespeare said."

"Secretary Powell and I agree on every single issue that has ever been before this administration except for those instances where Colin's still learning."

"Learn to say 'I don't know.' If used when appropriate, it will be often."

"I don't know what the facts are but somebody's certainly going to sit down with him and find out what he knows that they may not know, and make sure he knows what they know that he may not know."

"I'm not into this detail stuff. I'm more concepty."

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