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February 24, 2011 12:39 PM   Subscribe


 
It's difficult to imagine the video descriptions without laugh tracks after them. "Donald Rumsfeld claims that no one in the Bush administration was rushing to war" - hillarious.
posted by l33tpolicywonk at 12:55 PM on February 24, 2011


Donald Rumsfeld seemed so out-of-touch, I have a hard time believing he has much more interesting to say about the Iraq war than I do...
posted by chasing at 12:58 PM on February 24, 2011 [3 favorites]


To initiate a war of aggression, therefore, is not only an international crime; it is the supreme international crime differing only from other war crimes in that it contains within itself the accumulated evil of the whole.
-Robert Jackson, Supreme Court Justice, chief prosecutor at Nuremburg
posted by [expletive deleted] at 12:58 PM on February 24, 2011 [41 favorites]


AKA The Smog of War.
posted by shakespeherian at 12:58 PM on February 24, 2011 [1 favorite]


l33tpolicywonk: Actually, the majority of the interview is completely serious (which is the usual for Stewart's longer interviews). And possibly it's just that Rumsfeld is an incredibly talented liar, but I was surprised by how much he seemed to believe what he was saying. I haven't seen Rumsfeld speak before, but I kind of was expecting somebody slimier.
posted by Rory Marinich at 1:00 PM on February 24, 2011 [1 favorite]


Anyone know of a UK-accessible link? Comedy Central has a poor sense of humor about international viewing...
posted by narcotizingdysfunction at 1:00 PM on February 24, 2011 [3 favorites]


Stewart could have done a much better job with that interview. He should have had clips and images ready so that when Rumsfeld said things that were directly contrary to the factual record, for instance when he said that the administration didn't push hard for the war, he could show how ridiculous Rumsfeld was being.
posted by Philosopher Dirtbike at 1:00 PM on February 24, 2011 [17 favorites]


In an alternate universe, a post-WWII Germany has a comedy show where war criminals reinvent their pasts, while the audience yucks it up.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 1:01 PM on February 24, 2011 [36 favorites]


Stewart could have done a much better job with that interview. He should have had clips and images ready so that when Rumsfeld said things that were directly contrary to the factual record, for instance when he said that the administration didn't push hard for the war, he could show how ridiculous Rumsfeld was being.

And that's why I can't watch his interviews with demonstrably-lying douchebags. It somehow hurts more than watching Katie Couric interview them.
posted by AugieAugustus at 1:02 PM on February 24, 2011 [7 favorites]


but I was surprised by how much he seemed to believe what he was saying. I haven't seen Rumsfeld speak before, but I kind of was expecting somebody slimier.

Do you know how long he's been in the White House?? What you're saying would be like saying "I was surprised by how much John Gielgud seemed to believe the role he was playing".
posted by spicynuts at 1:02 PM on February 24, 2011 [1 favorite]


Do you know how long he's been in the White House?? What you're saying would be like saying "I was surprised by how much John Gielgud seemed to believe the role he was playing".

Well, compare Rumsfeld to the clip of Scott Walker TDS played earlier that episode. Walker's clearly full of shit; he sounds like the bully that he is. Or Bush, who rarely looks sincere. Even Obama has an aspect to his oratory style that feels really calculated.

Rumsfeld came across as more relaxed and heartfelt, which surprised me. Doesn't make him any more in the right; either he's being deceitful, or he's been grievously misinformed. But I expected him to sound more like a politician.
posted by Rory Marinich at 1:07 PM on February 24, 2011


Blazecock Pileon: In an alternate universe, a post-WWII Germany has a comedy show where war criminals reinvent their pasts, while the audience yucks it up

8th comment? Sorry, BP, this thread was already Goodwin'd in three.
posted by paisley henosis at 1:09 PM on February 24, 2011 [1 favorite]


And that's why I can't watch his interviews with demonstrably-lying douchebags.

I haven't watched it much in a long time, but that general softball approach (real or perceived) is something that turned me off (then I canceled cable TV).

The show seems aggressively confrontational behind subjects' backs, but when those subjects come on air, the tone suddenly becomes deferential.

Comedy Central comment: "i can't believe you'd give this war criminal a platform to sell his toilet paper"

That's about how I feel.
posted by mrgrimm at 1:10 PM on February 24, 2011 [7 favorites]


As smart as Jon Stewart is, Rumsfeld has at least the brains to match him. And Rumsfeld's been playing this game since Stewart was born. So it's no surprise there aren't any gotcha! moments in this. Disappointing, but not surprising.

Rumsfeld is such a consummate bullshitter that he has likely come to successfully believe his own lies. It's a shame, really; Stewart has really intelligent and probing questions, but he still has too much respect for the position that Rumsfeld once had to get medieval on his ass.
posted by zardoz at 1:10 PM on February 24, 2011 [6 favorites]


Stewart could have done a much better job with that interview.

I'm under the impression that book-tour touts have a handler that arranges the details of interviews and signings and that some of those details may include the exclusion of gotcha tactics like calling bullshit via past comments and/or video footage. Am I wrong in this belief and why did Bob McNamara wait thirty five years to try and clear his name versus five for Donny?
posted by jsavimbi at 1:11 PM on February 24, 2011 [3 favorites]


Stewart could have done a much better job with that interview. He should have had clips and images ready so that when Rumsfeld said things that were directly contrary to the factual record, for instance when he said that the administration didn't push hard for the war, he could show how ridiculous Rumsfeld was being.

It's a comedy show. You're not going to get hard hitting questions. And you're not going to trip of Rummy like that, he's a master, almost joyful to watch, despite my vigorous dislike of him and what actions while in office.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 1:13 PM on February 24, 2011 [1 favorite]


mrgrimm: I haven't watched it much in a long time, but that general softball approach (real or perceived) is something that turned me off (then I canceled cable TV).

The show seems aggressively confrontational behind subjects' backs, but when those subjects come on air, the tone suddenly becomes deferential.


The worst part (to me at least) was the way that almost every single time the very next episode would feature the gotcha clips and pointing out of lies that should have happened 24 hours previous. It somehow managed to seem both cowardly *and* bullying simultaneously.
posted by paisley henosis at 1:14 PM on February 24, 2011 [3 favorites]


Brandon Blatcher: "It's a comedy show. You're not going to get hard hitting questions."

After the Jim Cramer interview set the standard, the decision not to use clips was, at the very least, strange.
posted by l33tpolicywonk at 1:16 PM on February 24, 2011 [3 favorites]


I'm under the impression that book-tour touts have a handler that arranges the details of interviews...
Yup.
Most questions (or, at the very least, the line of questioning) are usually negotiated in advance.
posted by Thorzdad at 1:17 PM on February 24, 2011 [2 favorites]


My main takeaway from the interview was that Rummy was just trying to roll with the (really soft) punches and suffer through to the end so his book would get plugged. The only reason he's making the rounds now is to cash in. He'll make a small fortune on his bullshit book and we're all the worse for it.

Also, I think he and others are just waiting for Cheney to croak so they can blame everything on him.
posted by Burhanistan at 1:17 PM on February 24, 2011 [3 favorites]


It's a comedy show. You're not going to get hard hitting questions.

I think Stewart's interview with John McCain sort of speaks to the opposite. You know, the one that was hard-hitting enough that he's never come on the show again, and Bill Moyers felt compelled to feature Stewart on his PBS show.
posted by hippybear at 1:18 PM on February 24, 2011 [1 favorite]


I think that Stewart's hard hitting versus softballs may very well be related to advance agreements with handlers. My impression is that McCain had been treated pretty well in past interviews, its possible that his handlers had their guards down. Didn't Cramer just storm over to TDS last minute under his own steam? Not much advance prep going on there. The interview that always makes me squirm, though I'm not a fan of hers, is the one with Cheney's wife. Talk about someone whose handlers were asleep at the wheel!
posted by jeanmari at 1:23 PM on February 24, 2011 [2 favorites]


Rumsfeld is such a consummate bullshitter that he has likely come to successfully believe his own lies.

Isn't this true of pretty much everyone? I somehow doubt that Rumsfeld seems himself as a cartoon villain, and I'm sure he thinks he was serving his country to the best of his abilities. The assertion that the administration didn't push hard for the war is, to a certain degree, interpretive and subjective, and I'm sure that his own personal hero narrative means that he remembers certain events and conversations with different emphases than the rest of us do-- which is, I'm sure, the lot common to us all. None of this is meant to excuse how he executed his job as Sec. of Defense, but just because someone did awful things doesn't mean that person thinks he did awful things.
posted by shakespeherian at 1:24 PM on February 24, 2011 [11 favorites]



Well, compare Rumsfeld to the clip of Scott Walker TDS played earlier that episode. Walker's clearly full of shit; he sounds like the bully that he is. Or Bush, who rarely looks sincere. Even Obama has an aspect to his oratory style that feels really calculated.


You've just proven my point. Rumsfeld was elected to Congress in 1962. He moved up to the White House in 69. That's almost 50 years and before that he was a congressional aide.
posted by spicynuts at 1:25 PM on February 24, 2011


Compare with this interview with Diane Sawyer.
posted by adamvasco at 1:26 PM on February 24, 2011


The Poetry of D.H. Rumsfeld

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.

posted by Artw at 1:26 PM on February 24, 2011 [14 favorites]


Oh cool! Looking forward to watching this...
posted by ph00dz at 1:27 PM on February 24, 2011


Seymour Hersh's 2003 article on the Office of Special Plans: Selective Intelligence
posted by homunculus at 1:30 PM on February 24, 2011 [1 favorite]


Did Rummy ever find the 2+ trillion unaccounted for money as announced on Sept 10th, 2001?

It seems some States could use that money.
posted by rough ashlar at 1:34 PM on February 24, 2011 [2 favorites]


Well, compare Rumsfeld to the clip of Scott Walker

Um, Gov. Walker is a life-long underachiever who's fortunes turned in the winds of ignorance currently blowing through the white, middle-aged, moderate income America. Rummy, on the other hand, is an old bull whose past antics out in the pastures still carry a lot of weight around mating time. Let's not compare the two.
posted by jsavimbi at 1:35 PM on February 24, 2011


Seriously? We're still thinking these guys are bullshitting liars? Grow up and realize that they believed they were doing the right thing. That may seem crazy and sad to us, but bullshitting liars they weren't. It's like when we argued about that photo of Bush with a tear at a soldier's funeral, and a buncha people were like ROBOT TEARS.

People who disagree with you may sincerely, genuinely disagree with you. And think they're right.
posted by Avenger50 at 1:35 PM on February 24, 2011 [19 favorites]


Um, Gov. Walker is a life-long underachiever who's fortunes turned in the winds of ignorance

Walker was a reaction to overpaid retirement contracts in Milwaukee County.
posted by rough ashlar at 1:37 PM on February 24, 2011


> Grow up and realize that they believed they were doing the right thing.

That's probably true, but when they are confronted with honest and straightforward questions and refutations they then resort to bullshitting and lying. It's rather irrelevant what they believed.
posted by Burhanistan at 1:38 PM on February 24, 2011 [7 favorites]


Grow up and realize that they believed they were doing the right thing

The question is what they do when confronted with contradictory views and information, say, nine years later. Do we need to grow up, or do they?
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 1:44 PM on February 24, 2011 [4 favorites]


Genghis Khan an' his brother Don
Could not keep on keepin' on
We'll climb that bridge after it's gone
After we're way past it.

-Bob Dylan
posted by mosk at 1:45 PM on February 24, 2011 [2 favorites]


That's probably true, but when they are confronted with honest and straightforward questions and refutations they then resort to bullshitting and lying. It's rather irrelevant what they believed.

But, see, that's the issue. I was expecting Rumsfeld to do a lot of bullshitting and a lot of lying. But he wasn't. He was arguing his case, defending his point of view, and actually seeming to believe it. Certainly he was operating from a different set of information than I am (and as all of us on MetaFilter are), but he himself was the one to say that the dangerous things are the things we don't know we don't know.

Maybe you're right and he's a cynical, calculating monster who deliberately plans these multiple layers of convincing bullshit, then delivers them all with the flair of a master actor, but he really comes across to me as an earnest government employee who's simultaneously very bright and operating off the wrong set of facts. And it's not like the people with the right set of facts aren't usually being smug and unpleasant about their rightness. We have arguments here over the rightness of said unpleasantness, but the fact that there's unpleasantness isn't up for debate.
posted by Rory Marinich at 1:46 PM on February 24, 2011 [3 favorites]


WHY is he operating off the wrong set of facts?

WHO contrived to give him that set of facts?
posted by Artw at 1:47 PM on February 24, 2011


I'm guessing, the Project For The New American Century had a lot to do with his facts.
posted by hippybear at 1:49 PM on February 24, 2011


Everyone thinks that their understanding of history and the world is the right one, or else why would they hold that understanding? And yet not everyone agrees on everything, for some bizarre reason. When two people disagree over some significant thing, is it your understanding that at least one of them must be either evil or stupid?
posted by shakespeherian at 1:50 PM on February 24, 2011 [6 favorites]


WHO contrived to give him that set of facts?

Or did he seek those facts out because, like many true believers, his world view is entirely dictated by confirmation bias?
posted by Joey Michaels at 1:50 PM on February 24, 2011 [3 favorites]


Where are my facts?!
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 1:51 PM on February 24, 2011


I lost my taste for Stewart when he said that the protesters in Wisconsin were, and I quote, "the Bizarro Tea Party".

He apparently really does believe that crap he's been spewing that "both sides" are equally crazy and bad.

So why should we be surprised that he lobbed softballs at a war criminal? He's been arguing, for a long time now, that everyone needs to just stop being so mean and getting upset about little pointless things like truth, and reality, and that if you call out a liar for lying you're just as bad as the liar, if not worse.

I used to like Stewart, I don't know whether he changed or I changed but I count him among the bad guys now.
posted by sotonohito at 1:51 PM on February 24, 2011 [15 favorites]


Donald Rumsfeld... the Poet?
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 1:51 PM on February 24, 2011


WHO contrived to give him that set of facts?

Darth cheney and the think-tank scene.
posted by thsmchnekllsfascists at 1:51 PM on February 24, 2011


BORING! what's much more fun is Louis CK asking Rumsfeld if he's a lizard this morning on O&A. Let the record show he DID NOT ANSWER!
posted by Mach5 at 1:54 PM on February 24, 2011


I lost my taste for Stewart when he said that the protesters in Wisconsin were, and I quote, "the Bizarro Tea Party".

Stewart operates in a strange world of false equivalences. It might not be his fault — someone who watches as much mainstream media as he has would be equating the left with the right all the time, too. It seems inevitable that it would color how he puts together interview questions.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 1:55 PM on February 24, 2011 [4 favorites]


Or did he seek those facts out because, like many true believers, his world view is entirely dictated by confirmation bias?

So is yours. So is mine. We believe the things we do because we've seen them so many times; we don't accept that we're wrong about things until we see convincing enough arguments, but frequently the fact that the arguments disagree with us means we automatically find them unconvincing.

The fact that Rumsfeld is as flawed as us simultaneously scares and gladdens me. Scares because there is no way in hell I'd want to put myself in a position where my wrong thoughts could kill people; gladdens because you know what, I'd much rather have a sincerely mistaken opponent than have one who's specifically trying to manipulate people with his statement of beliefs. Scott Walker is pretty clearly the latter; a whole lot of Fox News is the latter; those are the people I think are really destructive.
posted by Rory Marinich at 1:58 PM on February 24, 2011 [3 favorites]


Rumsfeld was a major player in Team B so I have no idea why anyone is surprised at how he just plain makes shit up and then sells it as the truth.

There's a specific subset of American politicians and government employees (lets call them "Anyone who had anything to do with Nixon, Reagan or either Bush") who should have never been allowed anywhere near the reins of power once their evil, shitty lies were exposed the first time around.
posted by longbaugh at 1:58 PM on February 24, 2011 [2 favorites]


AKA The Smog of War.

AKA: The Fog Machine of War
posted by Trochanter at 2:03 PM on February 24, 2011 [3 favorites]


And possibly it's just that Rumsfeld is an incredibly talented liar, but I was surprised by how much he seemed to believe what he was saying.

He is both at different times. He lies about facts that are matters of record, and apparently has weasel thoughts to go along with his weasel words if confronted with these or a nuanced argument against his broad, simplistic generalizations. He is impossibly stubborn when confronted with facts that do not conform to his worldview, making him great for a guy like Bush who needs this illusion of clarity, but also a particularly dangerous decision maker who will never realize the error of his ways even when it is looking him in the face. So fucking arrogant, thinking about that smug bastard's face on the news still makes my blood pressure go up.

I'm sure he thinks he was serving his country to the best of his abilities. The assertion that the administration didn't push hard for the war is, to a certain degree, interpretive and subjective

I suppose, but just to look at either possibility (they did or did not push hard for war), they're both pretty damning given the fact the war took place based on very flawed decisions. Is it somehow better that they didn't push for it and still went to war on poor intelligence and specious logic?
posted by Hoopo at 2:03 PM on February 24, 2011 [2 favorites]


Where are y'all getting this idea that JS thrives on false equivalences? In my experience, he's one of the few who routinely call out idiots on cable tv who think that there are two sides to a story about burning a Koran, death panels, etc...
posted by willie11 at 2:04 PM on February 24, 2011


And possibly it's just that Rumsfeld is an incredibly talented liar, but I was surprised by how much he seemed to believe what he was saying. I haven't seen Rumsfeld speak before, but I kind of was expecting somebody slimier.

Good Christ, the guy is a psychopath. Lying is what he doesn.
posted by KokuRyu at 2:04 PM on February 24, 2011


Please, if there were any reason that Stewart took it easy is because he was terrified of Rumsfeld's superior fighting technique.
posted by Panjandrum at 2:05 PM on February 24, 2011 [1 favorite]


Also, good to remember that Rumsfeld is a straight up, first generation acolyte of Leo Strauss. Kind of important.
posted by Trochanter at 2:05 PM on February 24, 2011 [4 favorites]


When two people disagree over some significant thing, is it your understanding that at least one of them must be either evil or stupid?

THIS.
posted by Avenger50 at 2:06 PM on February 24, 2011


So his lies are noble.
posted by saulgoodman at 2:06 PM on February 24, 2011 [3 favorites]


I lost my taste for Stewart when he said that the protesters in Wisconsin were, and I quote, "the Bizarro Tea Party".

He apparently really does believe that crap he's been spewing that "both sides" are equally crazy and bad.


Um... Bizarro Superman and regular Superman are not equally crazy and bad. Bizarro means completely opposite in every way. The Tea Party are batshit and uncivilized and bad, which makes the Bizarro Tea Party the opposite of those things. This writes them off how, exactly?

You totally misunderstood what the guy was saying.
posted by Sys Rq at 2:06 PM on February 24, 2011 [28 favorites]


Stewart's protest coverage on the first night was pretty weak, if not a little offensive; can't speak to the subsequent coverage. But the "Bizarro Tea Party" thing definitely doesn't sound like it's meant to be a dismissal to me either, for the reasons Sys Rq explained.
posted by saulgoodman at 2:12 PM on February 24, 2011


Noble and utterly, unapologetically intentional.
posted by Trochanter at 2:14 PM on February 24, 2011


I love the Daily Show and I respect the holy hell out of Stewart, but his interview aggression seems be inversely proportional to how much he agrees with the person; people that fall on the same side of the argument he'll tear into forcing them to defend a point he agrees with, I like this because it shows that the viewpoint can withstand scrutiny, but with people he disagrees with, he's very gentle and deferential. I'd love to see that same kind of tenacity he turns on his friends to be displayed with people he doesn't see eye to eye with.

Rumsfeld came across as more relaxed and heartfelt, which surprised me. Doesn't make him any more in the right;

I'd argue that it is what makes him dangerous though.
posted by quin at 2:15 PM on February 24, 2011


He apparently really does believe that crap he's been spewing that "both sides" are equally crazy and bad.

He's made the larger point, frequently, that his job is not to be truthful. His job is to be funny. Pointing out the failures of those who are supposed to be truthful can be funny, and so he does that. His job is not to hold those who fail to account - his job is to help us point and laugh.

Jon Stewart has no interest in being known as the best reporter in American. He does not want to be Murrow or Rather or Jennings. He's a comedian. And so he comedianizes.
posted by Pogo_Fuzzybutt at 2:16 PM on February 24, 2011 [2 favorites]


To initiate a war of aggression, therefore, is not only an international crime; it is the supreme international crime differing only from other war crimes in that it contains within itself the accumulated evil of the whole.
-Robert Jackson, Supreme Court Justice, chief prosecutor at Nuremburg


Way to Godwin the thread right from the start. Because us seven years ago is just like the Nazis that Jackson was talking about.
posted by Slap Factory at 2:24 PM on February 24, 2011 [1 favorite]


I think the bottom line here is that even if Rummy truly believes he was doing the right thing for his country given what he knew at the time, he is clearly unwilling to honestly respond to honest criticism and refutation. There doesn't seem to be a quantum of contrition there about all the death and mayhem the Iraq invasion, and the obvious holes in their logic. Defend the man for being "genuine" if you like, but he's still a scoundrel who was instrumental in a massively fraudulent war that causes death on both sides to this day. What he believes about his actions really shouldn't even rate.
posted by Burhanistan at 2:25 PM on February 24, 2011 [5 favorites]


Good Christ, the guy is a psychopath. Lying is what he doesn.

With respect, KokoRyu, lines like this are what I (and also I think avenger50 and shakespeherian) are saying are bad. Rumsfeld, in that interview, pretty clearly shows himself to care a lot about the men he sent to war. He believes that there are circumstances that justify war. He also believes that there were such circumstances in 2003. I disagree with the latter very strongly and I disagree mildly with the former; Stewart argues the latter with him in this interview.

But there's a difference in saying that you disagree with his opinion or even that you disagree with his facts (and, let's make this clear, I do) and saying that you think he's behaving like this because he's incapable of empathizing with human beings. And it's the difference between being able to relate to people who you think are completely, utterly in the wrong, and deciding that only the people who think the exact same things as you are participating in the conversation in good faith.

I've been in a lot of arguments where the other person told me that clearly I was stupid/evil/mentally unwell for arguing what I argued. And without fail that makes me less willing to have conversations with that person. It also makes me assume that my opponent is wrong, because I feel like people who aren't arguing in good faith aren't likely to be right about what they're arguing. (That makes me just as in the wrong as they are, and it's something that I've been trying hard to fight.)

Rumsfeld sounded like he believed what he was saying. Maybe, again, this is ignorance on my part, but I'm inclined to believe him. It doesn't make him right, and it doesn't mean I think he should have ever been given the power to hurt all the people that he did, but I would rather still give him the benefit of the doubt and assume that he's behaving with sincerity. If you have reason to suspect him of being the manipulative two-faced scum that I was expecting him to be, please show me contrary evidence, and until then I'll respect the man a little bit more than I thought I would.
posted by Rory Marinich at 2:25 PM on February 24, 2011 [5 favorites]


And now we enter the spooky realm of Unknown Knowns...
posted by Artw at 2:29 PM on February 24, 2011


Rory Marinich: "either he's being deceitful, or he's been grievously misinformed"

you get one guess which it is. hint: he was never misinformed.
posted by mwhybark at 2:31 PM on February 24, 2011


I lost my taste for Stewart when he said that the protesters in Wisconsin were, and I quote, "the Bizarro Tea Party".

Uh, what? That wasn't his opinion, that was Stewart mocking the networks' (Fox vs MSNBC) partisan take on various protest movements and how that colors their coverage.

I agree though, there's no point in watching a show if you don't get the jokes.
posted by oneirodynia at 2:32 PM on February 24, 2011


Rory Marinich: "Rumsfeld, in that interview, pretty clearly shows himself to care a lot about the men he sent to war."

This is nonsense. A person who cares about another person or set of persons does not set them up to participate in enormous acts of criminality and murder.
posted by mwhybark at 2:32 PM on February 24, 2011 [2 favorites]


Rumsfeld, in that interview, pretty clearly shows himself to care a lot about the men he sent to war.

He's also shown pretty clearly throughout his career that he couldn't possibly give less of a fuck about them.
posted by Sys Rq at 2:33 PM on February 24, 2011 [2 favorites]


> He's also shown pretty clearly throughout his career that he couldn't possibly give less of a fuck about them.

"You go to the war with the people you don't give a fuck about, not those that you would like to give a fuck about."
posted by Burhanistan at 2:35 PM on February 24, 2011 [10 favorites]


he's behaving like this because he's incapable of empathizing with human beings.

Watch the Diane Sawyer interview (as mangled as it is by editing), and tell me again that this guy is capable of empathy. I don't see it.
posted by Chuckles at 2:35 PM on February 24, 2011 [1 favorite]


Furthermore, Rory, how many people have you lost as a result of his actions? I can count one for sure. Think about the folks coming home with PTSD for a moment, and realize that Rummy did that to them. He deliberately wrecked their lives, and engaged in absolutely well-understood and repeated lies in order to do so. The fact that he is still lying about it beggars belief.
posted by mwhybark at 2:35 PM on February 24, 2011 [3 favorites]


I mean I think a lot of this reaction to people who do awful things or immoral things is sort of dangerous and masturbatory, because if our immediate assumption about people with whom we strongly disagree is that they are either liars or idiots, we have significantly less incentive ever to question our own beliefs, understandings, and interpretations.
posted by shakespeherian at 2:35 PM on February 24, 2011 [6 favorites]


> we have significantly less incentive ever to question our own beliefs, understandings, and interpretations.

While that has some truth to it, this thread is about Rumsfeld and the Iraq war, not about techniques of introspection or something.
posted by Burhanistan at 2:38 PM on February 24, 2011


shakespeherian: "I mean I think a lot of this reaction to people who do awful things or immoral things is sort of dangerous and masturbatory, because if our immediate assumption about people with whom we strongly disagree is that they are either liars or idiots, we have significantly less incentive ever to question our own beliefs, understandings, and interpretations"

So, what you're saying here is that Rumsfeld's actions are damaging to the fabric of discourse which is required for democracy. I agree.
posted by mwhybark at 2:39 PM on February 24, 2011 [2 favorites]


I’d like to see evidence that Daily Show producers settled on permissible and impermissible lines of questioning in advance.
posted by joeclark at 2:40 PM on February 24, 2011


He was a disaster as SecDef and since he and all his cohorts managed to avoid serving in the armed forces had no conception of the shit he was putting people in by sending them off to war (that they didn't rush into mind!) without providing them with sufficient equipment.

So they didn't rush to war. But er... they also didn't really prepare for it either. For any of it. So I'm not really overly impressed with his alleged intellect or his veracity since he's either a fucking idiot or a total liar.
posted by longbaugh at 2:40 PM on February 24, 2011


He believes that there are circumstances that justify war.

That is the understatement of the new American century, right there
posted by Hoopo at 2:41 PM on February 24, 2011 [2 favorites]


I'm pretty sure he's a replicant. Stewart should have asked him about his mother.
posted by Artw at 2:43 PM on February 24, 2011 [2 favorites]


He'll tell you about his mother...
posted by longbaugh at 2:43 PM on February 24, 2011


He'll tell you LIES obviously.

Then he'll shoot you.

Maybe.

Who knows? He may know that he knows he'll shoot you. He may not know that he knows he'll shoot you.

Such is the mindscape of the Rumsfeld.
posted by longbaugh at 2:44 PM on February 24, 2011


Rory and shakespeherian are right. I just think a lot of the time everyone weighs in on these political threads like they're in a room full of people who vehemently agree. And then the thread is just about who can most cleverly say that whatever side they're hating on is full of evil bullshitting liars. Watch these comments roll in:
He believes that there are circumstances that justify war.

That is the understatement of the new American century, right there
Oh snap! I see what you did there.

The only way to even have this conversation with those who disagree is to try and understand and explain and break it down. And I just appreciate all the comments that do that, including Burhanistan's. If you're trying to change people's minds, do more of that. If you're just trying to get favorites, pop in here and be HILARIOUS.
posted by Avenger50 at 2:46 PM on February 24, 2011 [1 favorite]


...he and all his cohorts managed to avoid serving in the armed forces had no conception of the shit he was putting people in by sending them off to war

I wanted to make the point that although we put away childish things, one thing I haven't put away from Heinlein is that, if you're going to be eligible to vote to send the young people of your country to war, you should have had to served in combat. You should be able to vote against it all you want, but if your dad pulled strings to keep you out of the shit, you're disqualified.

Pie in the sky, but there you go.


I also believe everyone should be allowed to own a gun, except the kind of people who want to own a gun.
posted by Trochanter at 2:47 PM on February 24, 2011 [1 favorite]


While that has some truth to it, this thread is about Rumsfeld and the Iraq war, not about techniques of introspection or something.

This thread is about someone with whose actions we all vehemently disagree, but unless the only thing we want to do in this thread is say, over and over again, 'I hope Rumsfeld is never Secretary of Defense again!' it may be more useful to try to empathize with the guy, try to figure out why he believed and acted (and believes and acts) in the way he did (and does), and generally attempt to up the level of understanding all around. I mean, I thought that was the liberal project: context, understanding, empathy, nuance. Shitty my-team-is-good-your-team-is-evil stuff is closeminded and accomplishes nothing. Isn't that why the History Channel does nothing but shows on Hitler?
posted by shakespeherian at 2:53 PM on February 24, 2011


I'll be on the team that didn't demonstrably fabricate a case for war.
posted by Artw at 2:58 PM on February 24, 2011 [3 favorites]


I'm not interested in teams, frankly.
posted by shakespeherian at 2:59 PM on February 24, 2011 [4 favorites]


It really comes down to looking at actions, not intentions or beliefs. I'm a simple minded person, though.
posted by Burhanistan at 3:01 PM on February 24, 2011 [1 favorite]


I'll be on the team that didn't demonstrably fabricate a case for war.

No way bro, you're on the Let's Get Favorites Team. And I favorite you for it.
posted by Avenger50 at 3:03 PM on February 24, 2011 [1 favorite]


Rumsfeld sounded like he believed what he was saying. Maybe, again, this is ignorance on my part, but I'm inclined to believe him. It doesn't make him right, and it doesn't mean I think he should have ever been given the power to hurt all the people that he did, but I would rather still give him the benefit of the doubt and assume that he's behaving with sincerity. If you have reason to suspect him of being the manipulative two-faced scum that I was expecting him to be, please show me contrary evidence, and until then I'll respect the man a little bit more than I thought I would.

this is easily the most depressing comment i've read on metafilter.
posted by ennui.bz at 3:03 PM on February 24, 2011 [8 favorites]




So, what you're saying here is that Rumsfeld's actions are damaging to the fabric of discourse which is required for democracy. I agree.

Yes but also that it's damaging if we respond to his (obviously incredibly hurtful) actions by Othering him and declaring him beyond our compassion.

I want to understand Rumsfeld. I want to know why he thought that all of his decisions were good. I think it's wishful thinking to assume that he's just a Bad Person or even a Greedy Person or an Inconsiderate person. Those labels are too simple. They don't help me understand what the solution to this is.

Isn't the whole idea of being a liberal to show empathy and understanding even for people who do and say hurtful things? Not to forgive them entirely, but at least to make an honest attempt to realize why they do the things they do, and perhaps in the process to learn about ourselves? A lot of bad things happen because people are uncaring or stupid or greedy. Those are very simple bads. But Rumsfeld doesn't sound stupid, and he doesn't sound greedy, and he doesn't sound uncaring. The reason this interview struck a note with me is that I was expecting his motives to be a lot more obvious. They weren't. Stewart looked like he wasn't entirely expecting some of the answers he got either.

And about Stewart playing softball: Of course Stewart isn't going to play tricks on Rumsfeld. He asked a lot of questions and stuck to them, asked Rumsfeld to clarify a lot of the things he said. Clearly he was regretful when their time ran out. But I feel like for that half hour he tried hard to ask meaningful questions, and not to stop mentioning the important points.

Maybe Olbermann would have prepared clips and tried to catch Rumsfeld up. That's because Olbermann views debates as a game where if you contradict yourself you're wrong. A lot of people view debates as these sorts of games; clearly people here do. But I feel that's disrespectful to the real potential of a debate, which is where you try and understand where your opponent stands now and work out where exactly your disagreements are, and what might be wrong with the assumptions that lead to these disagreements.

Stewart clearly favors that latter sort of debate. He's been talking with people like that since before he showed up on Crossfire to specifically ask Tucker Carlson not to cheapen debates in that fashion. Some of you think that he hurts the nation by not taking these chances when he has them; I disagree both that this is hurtful and that he'd have a responsibility as a comedian to act otherwise if it was hurtful. He's one of my favorite interviewers. I'm often surprised at how good some comedians are at interviews.
posted by Rory Marinich at 3:05 PM on February 24, 2011 [18 favorites]


Good Christ, the guy is a psychopath.

Considering he served in Congress and in the Nixon White House - you don't rise to that level unless you have shown your ethics are 'not with societal norms'.

I'd like to believe the deviation from the norm was "better"....
posted by rough ashlar at 3:07 PM on February 24, 2011


This thread is about someone with whose actions we all vehemently disagree, but unless the only thing we want to do in this thread is say, over and over again, 'I hope Rumsfeld is never Secretary of Defense again!' it may be more useful to try to empathize with the guy, try to figure out why he believed and acted (and believes and acts) in the way he did (and does), and generally attempt to up the level of understanding all around.

Starting with Leo Strauss, auditioning on "Team B," and playing a starring role in Operation Iraqi Liberation Freedom, Donald Rumsfeld has built his entire career around the idea of the 'noble lie.' The whole problem with empathizing with liars is that it distracts you from the fact that they are *lying*. The more bald-faced the lie the more impossible it is to have a rational argument about it. Surely you remember that comment to Suskind about the "reality based" community:
The aide said that guys like me were "in what we call the reality-based community," which he defined as people who "believe that solutions emerge from your judicious study of discernible reality." ... "That's not the way the world really works anymore," he continued. "We're an empire now, and when we act, we create our own reality. And while you're studying that reality—judiciously, as you will—we'll act again, creating other new realities, which you can study too, and that's how things will sort out. We're history's actors…and you, all of you, will be left to just study what we do."
These guys believe that facts are subservient to power.
posted by ennui.bz at 3:10 PM on February 24, 2011 [12 favorites]


Because us seven years ago is just like the Nazis that Jackson was talking about.
Growing up during the Vietnam War, I saw some tragic similarities (even in my WWII veteran father, but then, he fought the Japs not the Nazis) and some other signs that we could be truly different, not just better. Those hopes have been solidly and repeatedly dashed. I think the rule against using Nazi Germany as a comparison in discussion means it is safe for authoritarians and assholes to do the same things without universal condemnation. And "Godwin's Law" doesn't ban it; it just predicts it, accurately, since borrowing tactics from Hitler is a very good way for authoritarians and assholes to succeed. If a rule existed to never do anything that Hitler (also Stalin and Mao) ever did, rather than never to point it out, the world would be much better off.


Stewart apparently really does believe that crap he's been spewing that "both sides" are equally crazy and bad.
The same way Stephen Colbert believes all the crap he says as that character he created FOR THE DAILY SHOW. Jon Stewart the News Anchor is a character. And the less nuanced that character is, the easier he is to write for. And Jon Stewart the Real Person is a Professional Comedian, not a Journalist, and most of his writers are less sophisticated than he is (which is why they don't all have their own show). The meme of Stewart inheriting Walter Cronkite's title of "Most Trusted Newsman" was one of the saddest events of the last decade for me.

Sometimes Stewart and his writers come up with bits that are much better suited to Colbert, but just add to the proof that he is playing a character.


The fact that Rumsfeld is still lying about it beggars belief.
The fact that he is still lying about it is how he, like so many others, coats himself in layers of denial to avoid putting a bullet in his own head. It's also a big reason for his long-term personal success, as it is for most successful political operatives on both sides. His style might not have necessarily been 'electable' but it made him easy to appoint to positions of high power.
posted by oneswellfoop at 3:12 PM on February 24, 2011 [1 favorite]


if our immediate assumption about people with whom we strongly disagree is that they are either liars or idiots, we have significantly less incentive ever to question our own beliefs, understandings, and interpretations

Rumsfeld's different because he was so dismissive of any criticism or evidence suggestion he might be wrong. Also part of his job was to obfuscate the truth about the war and sell it, so calling him a liar isn't really inaccurate.

about who can most cleverly say that whatever side they're hating on is full of evil bullshitting liars

If ever there was a time in my life where hating on evil bullshitting liars was completely appropriate, it was the Bush years.

"JUAN GONZALEZ: By the end of his speech, security had escorted three protesters out of the building. Then, Rumsfeld began taking questions from the audience. One of those who posed a question was Ray McGovern, who spent 27 years as a C.I.A. analyst.

RAY McGOVERN: And so, I would like to ask you to be up front with the American people. Why did you lie to get us into a war that was not necessary and that has caused these kinds of casualties? Why?

DONALD RUMSFELD: Well, first of all, I haven’t lied. I did not lie then. Colin Powell didn’t lie. He spent weeks and weeks with the Central Intelligence Agency people and prepared a presentation that I know he believed was accurate, and he presented that to the United Nations. The President spent weeks and weeks with the Central Intelligence people, and he went to the American people and made a presentation. I’m not in the intelligence business. They gave the world their honest opinion. It appears that there were not weapons of mass destruction there.

RAY McGOVERN: You said you knew where they were?

DONALD RUMSFELD: I did not. I said I knew where suspect sites were, and we were—

RAY McGOVERN: You said you knew where they were, "near Tikrit, near Baghdad, and northeast, south and west of there." Those were your words.

DONALD RUMSFELD: My words—my words were—no, no, no, wait a minute! Let him stay one second. Just a second.

RAY McGOVERN: This is America, huh? Go ahead.

DONALD RUMSFELD: You’re getting plenty of play, sir.

RAY McGOVERN: I’d just like an honest answer.

DONALD RUMSFELD: I’m giving it to you.

RAY McGOVERN: We’re talking about lies and your allegation that there was bulletproof evidence of ties between al-Qaeda and Iraq. Was that a lie or were you misled?

DONALD RUMSFELD: Zarqawi was in Baghdad during the prewar period. That is a fact.

RAY McGOVERN: Zarqawi, he was in the north of Iraq, in a place where Saddam Hussein had no rule. That’s where he was.

DONALD RUMSFELD: He was also in Baghdad.

RAY McGOVERN: Yeah, when he needed to go to the hospital. Come on, these people aren’t idiots. They know the story.

DONALD RUMSFELD: You are—let me give you an example. It’s easy for you to make a charge, but why do you think that the men and women in uniform every day, when they came out of Kuwait and went into Iraq, put on chemical weapon protective suits? Because they liked the style? They honestly believed that there were chemical weapons. Saddam Hussein had used chemical weapons on his own people previously. He had used them on his neighbor, the Iranians. And they believed he had those weapons. We believed he had those weapons.

RAY McGOVERN: That’s what we call a non-sequitur. It doesn’t matter what the troops believe. It matters what you believe.

MODERATOR: I think, Mr. Secretary, the debate is over. We have other questions, courtesy to the audience."


The man had every opportunity to re-evaluate his assumptions before making a decision to go to war, which one would expect someone in his position to do. There was plenty of evidence available that he chose to ignore. It's really a mystery to you why he acted the way he did? He's an arrogant ass, that's why.
posted by Hoopo at 3:13 PM on February 24, 2011 [21 favorites]


He believes that there are circumstances that justify war.

So does The Pope.

If the "war" was "justified" - why didn't the parties claiming "just" go to Congress and get a Declaration of War as the Constitution asks?
posted by rough ashlar at 3:15 PM on February 24, 2011


These guys believe that facts are subservient to power.

That assumes every single person working for Rumsfeld hold the exact same views as Rumsfeld himself, and I don't know if we can make that assumption.

I mean, that was one of the most evil villain quotes in modern US history. Franken quoting that passage in his 2005 book was the exact moment that I decided I had to start paying attention to politics. But does that quote immediately mean both that the aide followed that philosophy wholesale (rather than it being a blowhard cocky off-the-cuff sneering thing) and that every single person on Rumsfeld's staff believes the same things?

(Again, I'll restate that this does NOT mean that I don't think a lot of people do believe that, and that I still think that's a horrific trend in modern politics. My problem is using the simple evil of that quote to assume that the larger evil is equally simple.)
posted by Rory Marinich at 3:15 PM on February 24, 2011


Ray McGovern is the same guy who recently got arrested for turning his back on Hillary Clinton during a speech, isn't he? Dammit, he's a hero.
posted by oneswellfoop at 3:16 PM on February 24, 2011 [2 favorites]


When two people disagree over some significant thing, is it your understanding that at least one of them must be either evil or stupid?

I do think some ideas or viewpoints are inherently evil or rooted in ignorance, and that we shouldn't have to necessarily be nice about addressing them (but that we should be civil), but I agree with the wider point here.

I had the same experience as Rory. I had never imagined Rumsfeld as a fallible human being before, and seeing him in this interview, he seemed genuinely sad. Old and sort of tired; defending his crimes but not denying them. It's really strange to feel compassion for someone you consider at least partly responsible for a tremendous crime, but there you go. I can't unsee Rumsfeld as a human being, even if I consider his actions and worldview quite reprehensible. I really did not expect that, either, because everyone else in the former Bush administration has such a carefully pruned media image of, I don't know, hometown soullessness.

Still a shame accountability for the whole Iraq thing's just been shrugged off, though.
posted by byanyothername at 3:18 PM on February 24, 2011 [1 favorite]


If ever there was a time in my life where hating on evil bullshitting liars was completely appropriate, it was the Bush years.

Bullshit.

Unacceptable from ANYONE in public service.

Being a evil bullshitting liar is not something that should be tolerated in polite society.
posted by rough ashlar at 3:18 PM on February 24, 2011


When two people disagree over some significant thing, is it your understanding that at least one of them must be either evil or stupid?

When that 'thing' is sufficiently 'significent' and when one side can be proven to be based on a lie, FUCK YEAH.
posted by oneswellfoop at 3:21 PM on February 24, 2011 [1 favorite]


I'd love to see that same kind of tenacity he turns on his friends to be displayed with people he doesn't see eye to eye with.

I'd love to see it too, but then we wouldn't be seeing it, because there wouldn't be guests that didn't agree with him. He would be Keith Olbermann.
posted by threeturtles at 3:22 PM on February 24, 2011


Um... Bizarro Superman and regular Superman are not equally crazy and bad. Bizarro means completely opposite in every way.

That's not what Bizarro means. Bizarro Superman wasn't the opposite of Superman, he was a flawed duplicate. He had superpowers and wore a suit just like Superman's. A bizarro version of something is more like a foil; opposite in some ways, but with significant similarities that serve to highlight those differences.
posted by Anatoly Pisarenko at 3:25 PM on February 24, 2011 [1 favorite]


Still a shame accountability for the whole Iraq thing's just been shrugged off, though.

I've come to suspect that in the process of Barach Obama's preparation for taking the Office of President after he won the election, he learned a few (dozen) things that convinced him that he may someday 'need' to do illegal and reprehensible things 'for the greater good' and decided that setting a precedent of accountability was not a good idea. So he declared we must 'put the past behind us'. Someday, I hope that Wikileaks finds out what those things were.
posted by oneswellfoop at 3:25 PM on February 24, 2011 [2 favorites]


The interview was just annoying to watch (I just watched it on TV). 90% of Rumsfield's answerers were "Aaaay, it wasn't my fault OK?" And other bullshit. Trying to spread blame around and so on.
Well, compare Rumsfeld to the clip of Scott Walker TDS played earlier that episode. Walker's clearly full of shit; he sounds like the bully that he is. Or Bush, who rarely looks sincere. Even Obama has an aspect to his oratory style that feels really calculated.

Rumsfeld came across as more relaxed and heartfelt, which surprised me. Doesn't make him any more in the right; either he's being deceitful, or he's been grievously misinformed. But I expected him to sound more like a politician.
Well, he probably does believe that none of it is his fault! It was those other dudes, I never went to the meetings! I trusted the Intel! I wanted to get out quickly and they didn't follow my plans! Bla bla bla!

Rumsfeild is from the era when journalists actually challenged their subjects so he knows how to handle tougher interview questions. He also filibustered Stewart so they got into a sort of 'meta' discussion about the nature or something or other (I forget). All in all, a waste of time.
After the Jim Cramer interview set the standard, the decision not to use clips was, at the very least, strange.
That kind of interview is the exception, and Stewart was especially pissed. He's always tried to have 'civil' dialogs with people who actually show up on the show. The media in the U.S. is very deferential, but that doesn't mean that people who are really willing to dig deep in their own bullshit can't take stewart on.
But, see, that's the issue. I was expecting Rumsfeld to do a lot of bullshitting and a lot of lying. But he wasn't. He was arguing his case, defending his point of view, and actually seeming to believe it.
He didn't seem like he was bullshitting because he was good at bullshitting.
posted by delmoi at 3:25 PM on February 24, 2011 [2 favorites]


Just because someone says something that is untrue, and knows it to be untrue does not mean they don't believe it. People believe things that are demonstrated to them to be untrue all the time. It's not just because they are stupid and evil. Sometimes its because that's the way the human brain works. Some people call this "Faith."
posted by threeturtles at 3:27 PM on February 24, 2011


one thing I haven't put away from Heinlein is that, if you're going to be eligible to vote to send the young people of your country to war, you should have had to served in combat

No, that's terrible policy. When you require that all voters be produced by the same institution, then you get a country of hammers for which all problems become nails. And that's only the start of the trouble.

Heinlen's concept makes a moral point, not a working or practical or desirable policy.
posted by -harlequin- at 3:27 PM on February 24, 2011 [5 favorites]


Bizarro Superman wasn't the opposite of Superman, he was a flawed duplicate.
Based on that definition, calling the Wisconsin protesters "Bizzaro Tea Party" is even MORE of an insult.
posted by oneswellfoop at 3:27 PM on February 24, 2011


opposite in some ways, but with significant similarities that serve to highlight those differences.

Heh, Reminds me of the episode of Earthworm Jim where he fought his opposite...

Opposite Jim: I'm your exact opposite in every way, you know that taste when you drink orange juice after brushing your teeth?
Jim: Ooh, I HATE that
Opposite Jim: Yeah, well I love it!
Jim: Oh yeah, well I hate to lose, so that must mean you love to lose!
Opposite Jim: Oh don't be so literal minded!
posted by TwoWordReview at 3:30 PM on February 24, 2011 [1 favorite]


Oh snap! I see what you did there.

Avenger50, I didn't actually think it was still necessary to dig up examples of how Rumsfeld decided to go to war with Iraq before 9/11 and made up all kinds of BS justifications for it. I thought that was common knowledge by now, but I guess not. That Rumsfeld "believes there are justifications for war" is an incredible understatement; he thinks his gut feeling and not liking someone is a reason to go to war, and he also thinks you can just tack a war on the back of a completely unrelated tragedy and no one will notice or care.
posted by Hoopo at 3:30 PM on February 24, 2011


why didn't the parties claiming "just" go to Congress and get a Declaration of War as the Constitution asks?

It does not work that way.
posted by clavdivs at 3:30 PM on February 24, 2011


one thing I haven't put away from Heinlein is that, if you're going to be eligible to vote to send the young people of your country to war, you should have had to served in combat
Wonderful, having most of your electorate with PTSD. (And my experience with my WWII Vet father and his contemporaries convinced me that there were A LOT of never-diagnosed PTSD cases in "The Greatest Generation" and that's one of the biggest problems America has never dealth with).
posted by oneswellfoop at 3:32 PM on February 24, 2011


Can any one explain the exchange at the end? I don't really get it:

Stewart: I just want to tell you this: I really do appreciate you at least having the conversation and having at least the ability to sit and —

Rumsfeld: Why do you say "at least" twice?

[Laughter]

Stewart: Nicely done.
posted by Bort at 3:36 PM on February 24, 2011


No way bro, you're on the Let's Get Favorites Team. And I favorite you for it.

Yeah, this is all a big laugh.

Here’s the thing: I don’t actually believe ANYBODY who was even slightly paying attention believed the case for war as presented – it wasn;t only a fabrication, it was a quite transparent fabrication. I’d say that about the Bush administration and I’d say that about the various Americans who supported them – they bought into obvious bullshit because they wanted war. They all have blood on their hands.

So yeah, I find any excuse making or claims that anyone was “misled” utterly laughable.

On the other hand, as jokes go, it’s not very funny at all. Actually it's something that we should all be rather pissed off about.

Tell you what, you want a real laugh, next time ask me about Tony Blair.
posted by Artw at 3:37 PM on February 24, 2011 [5 favorites]


The question is what they do when confronted with contradictory views and information, say, nine years later. Do we need to grow up, or do they?

Blazecock, just based on Robert McNamara, it takes more like 30 years before they grow up. In 20 more years Rumsfeld will publish a second memoir where he confronts facts. He'll make money off of that book as well.

Our empathizing with Robert McNamara did nothing for us when Donald Rumsfeld came along. And our compassion for Donald Rumsfeld will do nothing for us when the next lying sack of shit comes along.
posted by Killick at 3:49 PM on February 24, 2011 [2 favorites]


Can any one explain the exchange at the end? I don't really get it:

Guest elicits empty laughs that gently show up host. Honestly, it doesn't take a whole lot to get Stewart's studio audience to laugh.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 4:01 PM on February 24, 2011


I don’t actually believe ANYBODY who was even slightly paying attention believed the case for war as presented.

Really? You can't conceive of an individual for whom the presentation of the case for war slotted nicely into a preestablished understanding of geopolitics? Every single person you've ever heard of who said that the war was justified was lying to you?
posted by shakespeherian at 4:20 PM on February 24, 2011


I mean, I thought that was the liberal project: context, understanding, empathy, nuance. Shitty my-team-is-good-your-team-is-evil stuff is closeminded and accomplishes nothing.

I get the philosophical argument that Rumsfeld's worldview is internally consistent to Rumsfeld. That's crystal clear.

But nine years later, we all know there were no WMDs, there was no Al Qaeda connection, etc. Why are we are supposed to "grow up", to quote Avenger50, instead of confronting the former SoD with what the world already knows, and then ask him to "grow up", by taking some responsibility?

I get that liberals are supposed to have empathy, nuance, etc. I understand why Rumsfeld won't question his own past. I guess I just don't understand why we don't get to question his past, given the consequences of his decisions and the role he played in events that were triggered by misinformation, if not outright lies — some of which were known to be lies and were purely political in basis, even before the war started.

Is there something about being a liberal that should prevent us from asking tough questions from people who were in positions of great power, who made questionable choices from wrong information, knowing a priori the information was spurious? Are we to wait another twenty years for Rumsfeld to pull a McNamara and come clean?

I'm a liberal trying to understand this equation, so please help me.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 4:28 PM on February 24, 2011 [7 favorites]


I guess I wonder, is there something about being Jon Stewart which requires him to ask the questions some may want him to ask when interviewing controversial people doing a book tour?

Because I'm pretty sure there isn't.

If you think Jon Stewart is fighting the same fight as you, and are frustrated when he doesn't do what you think he should, then perhaps your basic assumption about what he is doing is wrong.
posted by hippybear at 4:43 PM on February 24, 2011 [2 favorites]


one thing I haven't put away from Heinlein is that, if you're going to be eligible to vote to send the young people of your country to war, you should have had to served in combat

you know whose name also began with 'H'?
posted by ennui.bz at 4:45 PM on February 24, 2011


Shakespherian, you missed the part where he said anyone even slightly paying attention. When something fits neatly into your pre-established understanding and you just roll with it, you're kind of not scrutinizing it at all. The people who supported the war and were paying attention would justify it by saying Saddam Hussein is just a bad guy.

I really don't understand this "don't be so hard on poor ol' Grampa Rummy you guys" business from a few of you here. What insight should we be gaining from this interview into Rumsfeld's character? It's hubris, and it's an old story. That he may have believed in his own bullshit is irrelevant, but that people are still willing to give him the benefit of the doubt is profoundly disturbing.
posted by Hoopo at 4:48 PM on February 24, 2011 [4 favorites]


One day during the past decade, I don't know exactly when, I realized that men like Rumsfeld and Cheney are genuinely scared of whatever enemy they imagine at any given time. However smart they are, they have the emotional intelligence of 12 year old boys who get a beating every Saturday.
Half a century ago it was the Sovjets. Now it's the Muslim Terrorists. In between they were lost, not knowing what to put their fear into. They are genuinely scared, but they convince themselves they need to grow up and "be tough and deal with it". And they honestly believe that there are some things the grown-ups must hide from the children in order to "deal with it", in this case because Leo Strauss said so, but it could just as well be a banality from bigotted middle class family life. So they start wars, aggressions, secret missions. They lie. And this is exactly what they feel gives them authority and status. If they didn't start wars or lie, they would feel week and childlike, and irresponsible.
They honestly never really understand that the enemy wasn't there, that it isn't courageous to be a bully, or that real adults don't need to lie. In that sense, I can understand Rory Maninich.
They scary thing isn't so much Rumsfeld as it is the millions of people who subscribe to his fantasy world view, and vote for presidents like Bush (or Reagan or Nixon), and their equivalents in other countries.
posted by mumimor at 4:51 PM on February 24, 2011


My Heinlein statement was more about who can't vote to send 19 year old kids to war. Not just in the sense of getting them killed, but also (and this was the painful takeaway I had from the helicopter wikileaks video) what brutes they will become in order to do what they are asked. I know it's a silly thing...
posted by Trochanter at 4:53 PM on February 24, 2011


I don't think Rumsfeld is an idiot. I do think he's a liar, that's fairly clearly established really. He said things that were demonstrably untrue.

I'm also sure he was doing what he thought was best. In the real world people usually do. Villains are not villains in their own minds.

But that doesn't make them any less villainous.

The problem is that what Rumsfeld and his fellows thought was best is diametrically opposed to what I think is best. In Rumsfeld's ideal world there is a strict social hierarchy, an aristocracy in fact if not in name, and it is "best" to serve those in power, to assure that those with the most get more by depriving those with the least of what little they have. In Rumsfeld's world what's best is to assert US dominance by waging war on someone, anyone, and the specific target doesn't much matter.

When discussing the appropriate action to take in the wake of 9/11 it was Rumsfeld who said "there aren't any good targets in Afghanistan. And there are lots of good targets in Iraq"

He wanted a good show, and to him that was really all that mattered. I think he was speaking the complete truth when he said that America was an empire and able to create its own reality, the reality he wanted to create was one of effortless victory by blowing up stuff in a cool looking way.

He thought what was best was to further impoverish the poorest Americans by squandering the surplus on a mercenary army. I do not imagine for even a moment that he was too stupid to know the consequences of the politics he advocated. I think he knew perfectly well and it is his position that a society composed of a tiny upper class with a huge peasant class and no real middle class is ideal, and that he took what action he could to bring about his vision of an ideal America.

I think people take refuge in imagining him to be an idiot, or a liar, or unable to understand his actions because the alternative is to confront a the very unpleasant reality that there are people, very powerful people, who actually want what Bush wrought. It is so much easier to think that it was an accident than to admit that it was done on purpose.

As far as Stewart goes, he sided with the powerful and against the protesters, that makes him part of the problem from my POV. That he is a comedian isn't the issue, he could have poked fun at the bad guys, instead he chose to attack the good guys. So I'm done with him.
posted by sotonohito at 5:00 PM on February 24, 2011 [7 favorites]


Is there something about being a liberal that should prevent us from asking tough questions from people who were in positions of great power, who made questionable choices from wrong information, knowing a priori the information was spurious? Are we to wait another twenty years for Rumsfeld to pull a McNamara and come clean?

No one has suggested that we shouldn't ask Rumsfeld tough questions, or that we shouldn't question Rumsfeld's past. I'm taking issue with the automatic assumption that simply because we (strongly) disagree with his beliefs and actions, he must be bullshitting or lying or a sociopath. It's possible he's just wrong. But it looks like you're on board with that, so cool.

I really don't understand this "don't be so hard on poor ol' Grampa Rummy you guys" business from a few of you here.

This is disingenuous. The problem I have is with, as I've said, the idea that if people are disagreeing with you-- even to the point that they do things that you find to be awful-- they must be disregarding the Obvious Truth That You Know Because You Are Always Right. The lesson to learn from people who do bad things is that people are capable of doing bad things, even and especially when they think they are doing good things, so how do we comprehend the reasoning that went into that in order to ensure that we don't do the same thing or allow others to do the same thing in the future? Thinking bad guys do bad things because they like doing bad things doesn't help anything.
posted by shakespeherian at 5:01 PM on February 24, 2011 [1 favorite]


Also:

When something fits neatly into your pre-established understanding and you just roll with it, you're kind of not scrutinizing it at all. The people who supported the war and were paying attention would justify it by saying Saddam Hussein is just a bad guy.

Which is sort of what a lot of folks here are saying about Rumsfeld, isn't it?
posted by shakespeherian at 5:09 PM on February 24, 2011


Really? You can't conceive of an individual for whom the presentation of the case for war slotted nicely into a preestablished understanding of geopolitics? Every single person you've ever heard of who said that the war was justified was lying to you?

Believe me, I find it pretty hard to find any sympathy for those who beat the drums of war based on unexamined bullshit – for those that knew full well it was bullshit, and really it wasn’t that hard to figure that out pretty early on, I have no sympathy whatsoever.
posted by Artw at 5:14 PM on February 24, 2011


so how do we comprehend the reasoning that went into that in order to ensure that we don't do the same thing or allow others to do the same thing in the future? Thinking bad guys do bad things because they like doing bad things doesn't help anything.

Who is saying that? Who here do you think does not understand Rumsfeld's reasoning? Understanding his reasoning does nothing anyway. You cannot stop the stubbornness and arrogance and self-righteous crusades of those in power. People like his approach. People like leaders who are decisive and leave no room for doubt and never question their decisions and never look back. Sometimes these leaders are very, very wrong. It will happen again. Try sitting down with a pro-war Republican the next time and tell them "hey this is what happened last time, with Bush and Rumsfeld." The people that need to learn a lesson from Rumsfeld's reasoning are not the people cracking jokes here.

Which is sort of what a lot of folks here are saying about Rumsfeld, isn't it?

I honestly don't understand what you're getting at here. That Rumsfeld was a person that thought Saddam Hussein was a bad guy? Sure, who didn't?
posted by Hoopo at 5:22 PM on February 24, 2011


I absolutely accept that there are data points and intelligence that I do not have access to and that it is absolutely conceivable, nay certain, that there are people who are not only considerably smarter than me but also have access to that data. In fact, I hope beyond hope that the people who hold the reins of power have specifically hired these people and then given them access.

What a lot of folks here are saying is "It is beyond doubt that the casus belli for Iraq was shit from the get go based on every piece of evidence both public and secret that has since been revealed, therefore, anyone saying it was a cast iron slam dunk is either stupid or a liar". Rumsfeld may not be an idiot. He may not be a liar. But he is absolutely one or the other of these two things. There is no way he could not be one or the other based on the facts that were "known knowns" before the invasion.

And whilst I couldn't give a fuck about scoring favourites I think it's plain rude to pass off the comments of your fellow MeFites as some sort vanity/popularity contest. It's still an emotional subject and many people still harbour anger and resentment that certain individuals have been given a free pass on starting a war with no actual justification.
posted by longbaugh at 5:30 PM on February 24, 2011 [3 favorites]


Yeah I'm all for empathy and understanding, but to get this nanote of self-reflection and remorse from the man 7 years later? Please. If this was Serbian Defense Minister Vladimir Rumsfeldo saying years later how that unprovoked invasion and all those innocent deaths were totally justified and not his fault we'd all be like fuck that guy

Understanding Rumsfeld's internal psychology may be interesting on a human level. Politically speaking, it'd be a lot more useful to try him for war crimes
posted by crayz at 5:38 PM on February 24, 2011 [2 favorites]


I kept waiting for Stewart to show a mocked-up inside front cover of Rumsfeld's book - you know, the one with the picture of Rumsfeld shaking Saddam's hand back in happier times.
posted by webhund at 5:43 PM on February 24, 2011


By the way, that Nuremburg quote is etched above the doorway in the War Remnants Museum in Saigon. God Bless America
posted by crayz at 5:45 PM on February 24, 2011


shakespeherian: "it may be more useful to try to empathize with the guy, try to figure out why he believed and acted (and believes and acts) in the way he did (and does), and generally attempt to up the level of understanding all around."

All right, I'll play. Rummy (et al) believe it's important, just, and necessary to deceive the voting populace of the country to which they owe their allegiance, specifically in order to create massively profitable business opportunities for persons in allied areas of the economy to their existing business expertise, specifically military and oil related business. He actually does see this as the act of a committed patriot. His psychology is specifically about reducing the opportunity you, Rory and shakespherian, as actual individual citizens, have to participate meaningfully in the political society of a democracy. He thinks that you, as individuals, are threats to what is most important and beneficial to his conception of America and its' place in the world.

Please note that the people in this thread who have suggested that such unflattering descriptions of Rummy's actions and worldview are seeing him as "Evil" or "Other" are basically just you guys. He's neither. He is unquestionably a danger to our society, and should be prosecuted with great vigor. But he's not Satan or a bogeyman. He's a real man who has committed crimes, and I think he should be held to account for them.
posted by mwhybark at 5:56 PM on February 24, 2011 [2 favorites]


I mean, I thought that was the liberal project: context, understanding, empathy, nuance. Shitty my-team-is-good-your-team-is-evil stuff is closeminded and accomplishes nothing.
What the fuck are you talking about? "The Liberal Project" is people not starving to death, not freezing to death, not dying for lack of healthcare and especially not getting blown up! That's it! Empathy and understanding of people who disagree with those ideals isn't the goal here.

Frankly I think a lot of the calls for 'understanding the other side' results from a lack of empathy and a lack of understanding. They don't understand what the other side actually wants and they don't understand how the other side could want anything different then them (in other words 'empathy for the devil')

Jon Stewart seems genuinely perplexed that people who seem nice can go out and do bad things. He doesn't seem to understand that they don't see it as all that bad.


---

Btw, you'll never learn how they really feel by listening to what they say in these bullshit interviews.
posted by delmoi at 6:00 PM on February 24, 2011 [3 favorites]


shakespeherian: "It's possible he's just wrong."

Look, if this is your actual, honest opinion, you are simply ignoring the information and links the rest of us are presenting in the thread. It is literally *not possible* that he was 'just wrong.' He lied at the time. He lies about what he said. He lies to Stewart, repeatedly, in the course of the clip. He's lying to other people on the book tour. I saw someone cite another appearance within the past couple of days where he claimed not to know what the term 'stovepiping' meant. I mean, come on.

Of course you could just be trolling, in which case, kudos.
posted by mwhybark at 6:03 PM on February 24, 2011


The Daily Show can't get all crazy on the guests, or they won't come on anymore. I usually fast forward through the last segment at this point, anyway, so that would be ok, but criticizing JS for this is meaningless.
posted by Huck500 at 6:07 PM on February 24, 2011


Artw:

The Poetry Johari Window of D.H. Rumsfeld

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.


Think he needs some Windex.
posted by jet_manifesto at 6:22 PM on February 24, 2011


This was physically painful for me to watch, and I'm not sure why I did (watch). Hoping, I guess, that Jon Stewart would be able to make sense of something that makes no sense. The most pain came from watching Donald Rumsfeld squint his way through his mild justification for what is, for me, the most painful chapter of US history that I have lived through, and with the consequences of these decisions being the ongoing nightmarish quagmire of the Iraq war. The interview forced me to remember an administration that in my mind brought my country to ruin. Donald Rumsfeld may truly care about the men and women he sent to war, but watching him sit and shill his book to make a buck from his role in this horrendous war just feels so incredibly wrong.
posted by bluesky43 at 6:24 PM on February 24, 2011 [3 favorites]


Thinking bad guys do bad things because they like doing bad things doesn't help anything.

I just don't understand how so many people can possibly accept this notion that People Only Do What They Think Is Right, Even When It's Bad. It's ridiculous. I do wrong things all the time and so does everybody else, because there are so many feelings that feel better than the one you get from doing the right thing. No matter whether it's me calling my mother a bitch when I was fifteen or (since the thread has been godwinned to hell anyway) some Nazi beating some poor Jew to death in Dachau in 1944. When I argued with my mother and told her she was a bitch, did I think it was right, and that my mother was truly a terrible woman who deserved to know it, or was it just a dark, human impulse to take fleeting comfort from the infliction of emotional pain? Did the Nazi think it was right, and that he really was merely doing his noble part to cleanse the world of Jewish danger, or was it just a dark, human impulse to hurt and destroy something sick, smelly, ugly and miserable in desolate corner of a desolate place? Human beings are capable of getting satisfaction from behaving cruelly. Could anybody ever beat anybody else to death if we weren't? We don't do these things for justice or righteousness, we do them for ourselves. To make ourselves feel better somehow, or, to get us the things that we want. Certainly, a lot of us do the right thing a lot of the time. But we flatter ourselves as a species if we pretend that we only indulge our greed and sloth and sadism in spite of ourselves and without ever really realising it.
posted by two or three cars parked under the stars at 6:26 PM on February 24, 2011 [4 favorites]


QFT, it is electric how important and how true this is:

The aide said that guys like me were "in what we call the reality-based community," which he defined as people who "believe that solutions emerge from your judicious study of discernible reality." ... "That's not the way the world really works anymore," he continued. "We're an empire now, and when we act, we create our own reality. And while you're studying that reality—judiciously, as you will—we'll act again, creating other new realities, which you can study too, and that's how things will sort out. We're history's actors…and you, all of you, will be left to just study what we do.

- anonymous, but attributed to Karl Rove

Lying isn't lying when Rumsfeld does it, it is an action of power to shift reality to match. And while people are scrambling to say "Now wait a minute - you know that's not true...", they're reacting, not acting, they're being left behind. And power will carry the day.

This is also why Fox New is a juggernaut. This is why their audaciousness is jaw dropping yet they get away with it. All of it. The lies aren't lies any more, they are the self-fulfilling redefining of reality.

This is what is happening, and effective countermeasures do not exist yet. We need to devise them.
posted by -harlequin- at 6:38 PM on February 24, 2011 [5 favorites]


I did use to wonder what these fellows told themselves when they looked in the mirror. This thread has helped me to sort it out. It's magical thinking. Their will would make it so. Bush may have had his own religious way of doing it. Cheney, Wolfowitz and Rumsfeld had their arrogance.

And I'll totally do a Godwin here, too.
posted by Trochanter at 7:59 PM on February 24, 2011


Of course you could just be trolling, in which case, kudos.

The inability to imagine that someone might disagree with you is kind of weird.
posted by shakespeherian at 8:03 PM on February 24, 2011 [2 favorites]


Another thought on the magical thinking thing: It's like, Tony Robbins brings about the apocalypse.
posted by Trochanter at 8:07 PM on February 24, 2011


The inability to imagine that someone might disagree with you is kind of weird.

All too common among the fanatics here.
posted by shivohum at 8:19 PM on February 24, 2011 [2 favorites]


Maybe I'm just stupid, but the whole "there are known knowns etc." comment actually strikes me as a relatively articulate bit of wordplay, and accurate to boot. There are lots of reasons to disagree with Rumsfeld et al without resorting to ad hominem yuks.
posted by dixiecupdrinking at 9:09 PM on February 24, 2011


the whole "there are known knowns etc." comment actually strikes me as a relatively articulate bit of wordplay, and accurate to boot.

Yeah, it makes perfect sense on paper if you diagram it out. But the way he delivered it as a response to a straightforward question really has an air of hubris and evasion. It's the product of a slick operator who is well versed in squirming out of responsibility. That it has a kind of consistent internal logic to it doesn't make his employment of it any less weaselly.
posted by Burhanistan at 9:18 PM on February 24, 2011 [1 favorite]


Of course you could just be trolling, in which case, kudos.

I don't know enough about Rumsfeld to even know where I could expect him to be incorrect and where I could expect him to be outright wrong. I'm not a hugely political person. All I know about the man is that he was a central part of the vast coalition of fuckups who were why things were shit when I started paying attention. I just don't know who he was in particular, and what specific horrible things he's done, and to what extent he is loathed and by whom.

To the extent that I do care, however, I do tend to worry more about the "why" than I do about the "what". I'm sorry to anybody I might have offended by defending Rumsfeld to the extent that I did. I know that being politically interested-but-apathetic might come off poorly, and I'll try my best not to be irritatingly provocative.

Empathy is difficult. It's hard to grasp just how many people could be potentially affected by your actions even when you live a relatively modest life. I imagine it's much harder once you're given any amount of power, let alone the kind of power that can kill. You don't hear it in what Rumsfeld says in that interview so much as you hear it in what he doesn't say. When he discusses Iraq, I feel the first logical thing for the mind to wander to is: Why was this war worth a hundred thousand deaths, and why didn't I take those into account before planning anything? But he skirts over that horrible statistic. I'm sure he's trained himself simply not to think about it, or simply not to feel. That or else when he's alone he sheds tears over this, but in that case I'd think it a shame that he keep the really important, interesting thoughts to himself.

I feel, however, that empathy's just as required when you're talking about somebody who is evil, or who at the least has done evil things. Partly so that we can identify some of the causes, and learn how to perhaps prevent them. Partly so that we don't alienate the person we're talking to, though in Rumsfeld's case I doubt any of us will actually be speaking to his face. Most importantly, so that we can remind ourselves of just how easy it is to willingly disregard something, to turn evil through our blind spots.

That's something I think about a lot as far as MetaFilter's concerned, because ours is largely a community formed around conversations, meaning the only time anything ever goes wrong is when one person (or group of people) fails in some way to connect with another. Whether we're talking politics or religion or circumcision or rape jokes, all the biggest and ugliest discussions revolve around a group of people failing, sometimes deliberately, to see another group's point.

A lot of people here have convinced themselves of their own moral rightness. A few of those people are convinced that these rightnesses let them either disregard others' thoughts, or outright insult them, or in some other way treat people and their ideas as somehow lesser or less worthy of respect. There are people here who never explain themselves unless they're allowed to do it in a condescending tone. I'm pretty sure they think that you're allowed to be condescending when you're right.

Like I said before, one of the things I like about Stewart is that he fights hard to be understanding. Even when somebody puts him in a rage, he manages to be cutting without seeming cruel. He doesn't take excessive personal potshots during his comedy. There are a lot of people who think it's his responsibility to be more vicious if that viciousness had a chance of making the country a better place, but, as I said before, I don't think that's his responsibility even if being vicious would help, and I don't think it would.

If we want to somehow fight the giant hate machine on the right wing, we have a few options. We can do nothing, hope things magically fix themselves. We can let things get worse in the hope that people will see the error of their ways and make themselves better. We can adopt a similar "hate machine" drive, push for party purity, make everything negative and hateful and fearful until people pay attention to us because otherwise they think it's the end of America. Or we can figure out how to be both hard-hitting and respectful, which I don't think is possible unless we're capable of connecting on an emotional level with our opponents.

(Being simply intellectually correct isn't enough. Suskind's aide was right, except in his phrasing this like it's only a recent thing. We're wired to act on our emotions rather than our thoughts. I don't think this is necessarily a good or a bad thing, but it's not something we can simply ignore and hope it goes away.)

I'd also like to point out that none of these are thoughts I've got planned out ahead of time. A lot of them were triggered by what I saw this afternoon. If we're really going to accuse people of trolling because they say things we don't agree with, can we at least wait until a user's got a history of deliberate provocation before shouting things? Otherwise it sends the message that it's wrong to think about things when we should already be absolutely certain of our answer. I don't like that.
posted by Rory Marinich at 9:33 PM on February 24, 2011 [3 favorites]


Rory Marinich: I want to understand Rumsfeld.

You were, what, 13 when the first Iraq War started? Give it time, my friend. His is, unfortunately, a common type. He only made himself remarkable because, unlike most, his self-delusions cost many thousands of lives.
posted by fartknocker at 9:34 PM on February 24, 2011 [1 favorite]


[expletive deleted]'s Jackson quote was not a godwin.

Rumsfeld and the rest of the Bush Administration did initiate a war of aggression. We need to remember that.
posted by fartknocker at 9:48 PM on February 24, 2011


shakespeherian: "Of course you could just be trolling, in which case, kudos.

The inability to imagine that someone might disagree with you is kind of weird
"

What are you talking about? Your opinion is different than mine. Like, a whole lot different than mine.

-or- you have a sense of humor. see? I'm imagining just fine, not othering you, not eviling you. just imagining.
posted by mwhybark at 9:52 PM on February 24, 2011


hm, Rory cited the same line. So, sure, guys, I apologize.

I think my point about the use of the word 'evil' still stands: I didn't use it to describe Rumsfeld's actions. He's not the Other. Nor are you guys. It's not at all necessary to imagine that someone has to be a monster to do what he did. In fact, I would say it's beneficial to society if we assume we are each capable of his actions, and that those in power should be subjected to scrutiny which expects this.
posted by mwhybark at 10:01 PM on February 24, 2011 [1 favorite]


Angry mobs don't connect on an emotional level, they hang people together so no one individual has to take the blame. We don't need to connect with them, we need to single out the instigators and lock them up.
posted by Hoopo at 10:40 PM on February 24, 2011


Blazecock, just based on Robert McNamara, it takes more like 30 years before they grow up. In 20 more years Rumsfeld will publish a second memoir where he confronts facts. He'll make money off of that book as well.

Rumsfeld would be 98 at that point. It seems really unlikely he would be alive then. If he make any money on it, it's certain he won't have any time to enjoy it,

posted by Quonab at 10:59 PM on February 24, 2011


Sorry about the italics in the last comment.
posted by Quonab at 11:01 PM on February 24, 2011


I wonder what his cut was.
posted by Smedleyman at 11:42 PM on February 24, 2011 [1 favorite]


I wonder what his cut wasn't
posted by dmrober at 12:27 AM on February 25, 2011


one thing I haven't put away from Heinlein is that, if you're going to be eligible to vote to send the young people of your country to war, you should have had to served in combat

Actually that isn't how the country in the novel was set up. You had to do a couple of years of service, but not necessarily combat; at the time the story opens it was peacetime. After the Callow Youth signs up in order to get the franchise (and look good in front of the girl, IIRC) war breaks out and he finds himself sent to the front.

Requiring people to serve in combat would require not just a massive standing army but also a permanent state of war. I think this is a bad thing.

Nevertheless, I agree with the basic idea that the class of people making decisions about war should not be exempt (via wealth and connectedness, eg) from having to actually fight the wars.

posted by hattifattener at 1:05 AM on February 25, 2011 [1 favorite]


Ray McGovern Confronts Rumsfeld with fact checks. It's a great pity that Mr Rumsfeld does not meet a real interviewer; People like Jeremy Paxman come to mind.
posted by adamvasco at 1:24 AM on February 25, 2011 [1 favorite]


The pull quotes are all from different commentors...

Still a shame accountability for the whole Iraq thing's just been shrugged off, though.

As I said after Obama's inauguration:
Obamania is just a way for the American people to forgive themselves. Nothing new about that. Sad.

Really? You can't conceive of an individual for whom the presentation of the case for war slotted nicely into a preestablished understanding of geopolitics? Every single person you've ever heard of who said that the war was justified was lying to you?

Speaking only for myself, there were a very few authoritarian liberals who decided it was a good idea to jump on the jingoistic bandwagon, figuring that the end result would have to be not too bad.

And just to back up for a second on all this WMD talk. Remember that at the time it wasn't so much that people knew there weren't any.. People suspected there might be just enough for the Bushites to create a faux justification. Just enough rusting cans of mustard gas to make it 'not a lie'. The fact that Rumsfeld says he was honestly surprised that there was nothing at all.. Well, a lot of people were honestly surprised by it. But nobody, and I mean nobody, thought that those rusty cans of mustard gas were a threat to anybody outside of Iraq's borders. It was the notion that Iraq was a threat that was a lie.

I guess I just don't understand why we don't get to question his past, given the consequences of his decisions and the role he played in events that were triggered by misinformation, if not outright lies — some of which were known to be lies and were purely political in basis, even before the war started.

You don't get to question because if you question the whole house of cards tumbles down. The myth of America the good evaporates, and you're left with Chomsky and Zinn. Because Iraq was nothing new. Or maybe, as Chomsky says, it actually marked progress. Never before did a million people go into the streets of London to stop a war. So for Iraq more than any previous American atrocity it is important to avoid the questions.
posted by Chuckles at 2:22 AM on February 25, 2011 [2 favorites]


Stewart is a trojan horse.
posted by CautionToTheWind at 4:53 AM on February 25, 2011 [1 favorite]


To understand the build-up to Rumsfeld's worldview, you need to also consider some of his history. It isn't just that this guy has been in the public sector as long as he has, it is related to the events that roll into motion whenever Rumsfeld and Cheney are near power. Going to war on the thinnest of pretenses, pushing for U.S. primacy at all costs? This isn't new for them.

Under Ford, you had Rumsfeld as Secretary of Defense and Cheney as WH Chief of Staff. There are all sorts of other players in this current saga who began to forge their worldview at that time. This series of interconnected relationships which got the current Iraq war started had their roots in other decades and was a bit of unfinished business for that specific group of people.

Right after the second Iraq war started, I watched a screening of an old documentary called "The Panama Deception" about Operation Just Cause and the U.S. Invasion of Panama to overthrow a dictator. I had just graduated from college in 1989 when all of that happened, and wasn't as politically aware, so I was fascinated about all of the decisions and players and so on. And at some point, there is a shot of some of the U.S. administration walking off of a plane. And there is Cheney and Powell. That invasion was sold on allegations of sexual harassment of a service member's wife and the confusing circumstances surrounding the shooting of U.S. 2nd Lt. Robert Paz, plus allegations of drug trafficking. Speculation is that the invasion was really over the Panama Canal treaties (and rights which had been given back to Panama by Carter) and the U.S.-funded Noriega "going rogue" on the Administration. Cue 2,500 people killed (according to the U.N.)

Rumsfeld helped to found PNAC (Project for the New American Century) in 1997, and signed a letter (with Wolfowitz and Zoellick) to then Pres. Clinton demanding a "regime change" in Iraq.

The object of a certain group of people to which Rumsfeld belongs seems to be American Primacy at all costs, staying at the top of the military power pyramid and maintaining financial control of global markets as much as they can. They see the ends as justifying the means. I believe that THEY believe that they are doing this to protect the U.S.'s position in the world and, ultimately, the American people. I think that they are arrogant, paternalistic, destructive, and wrong but they don't care what people like you and I think, frankly.
posted by jeanmari at 6:15 AM on February 25, 2011


Everything else aside, I could listen to Rumsfeld talk for hours. Maybe it's just my midwestern sensibilities.
posted by gjc at 7:19 AM on February 25, 2011


Noone ever asks him about his Israeli portfolio after all According to Philip Zelikow -- a former member of the President's Foreign Intelligence Advisory Board, the executive director of the 9/11 Commission, and later counselor to Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice -- the "real threat" from Iraq was not to the United States. Zelikow told an audience at the University of Virginia in September 2002, the "unstated threat" from Iraq was the "threat against Israel." He added, "The American government doesn't want to lean too hard on it rhetorically, because it is not a popular sell.
posted by adamvasco at 9:35 AM on February 25, 2011


gjc: I could listen to Rumsfeld talk for hours.

But to really get his voice's full effect, you have to juxtapose the wailing of all the tens of thousands of mothers who lost their sons and daughters to his horrible decisions.
posted by fartknocker at 9:40 AM on February 25, 2011


Everything else aside, I could listen to Rumsfeld talk for hours.

Definitely someone to 'sit and have a beer with'
posted by Uther Bentrazor at 10:27 AM on February 25, 2011


But to really get his voice's full effect, you have to juxtapose the wailing of all the tens of thousands of mothers who lost their sons and daughters to his horrible decisions.

Hundreds of thousands. Just sayin'.
posted by Sys Rq at 11:12 AM on February 25, 2011


I'm going to try to tell a story that was told to me by the gentlest person I have ever known, a close family friend named Pat - a story that has had a big impact on my life, and a story that I will probably not do justice.

In the early 80s Pat believed that the evilest man in the world was Edward Teller, the "father of the hydrogen bomb". The man who, after helping to create the most destructive weapon in history, did not express regret, did not say 'I am become death', but instead carried on the push for even more destructive weapons, lobbied against nuclear test bans, invented other nuclear weapons, and fought to make star wars happen. This is a man whose life was about bringing weapons of mass destruction into the world, and who showed no sign of remorse.

Pat had an opportunity to see Teller speak at Stanford one summer and figured this a good opportunity to confront him directly. He attended the presentation and afterward sat in the theater as people filtered out, awaiting his chance. People approached Teller and shook his hand and exchanged words, while others waited their turn. Some time later the crowd around him had reduced to a small group, while Pat still stood in the eaves looking for an opening. The group moved the discussion to a small table with eight chairs, glasses and a pitcher of water. They seated themselves to continue their conversation but one chair still remained empty. Pat moved in and sat himself as if he belonged there, as if he were one of them.

The others seated at the table were Russian ex-nationals who seemed to be very concerned at the possibility of nuclear war. The talks went on for some time and as someone would empty their glass of water, Pat would refill it. One by one the concerned Russians departed, and Pat continued to refill Edward Teller's glass (He is the gentlest person I have ever known, remember). Eventually the last Russian left the table, and Pat was left alone with Teller.

Teller asked Pat if he was also Russian, if he was concerned about nuclear war, why he had remained silent. Pat said no, he just was just there to refill the glasses. Teller seemed to be suddenly overcome by a deep gratitude and said, "I don't know who you are, but I really want to thank you for being here." Somehow Pat had reached some vulnerable part of the man, a part that rarely saw the light of day, but seemingly was desperate for attention. Pat replied, "Of course," then excused himself and left.

Despite having 'the evilest man in the world' eating (ok, drinking) out of his hand, he didn't attack, not even a gentle word of critique. Because where he was expecting an evil warmonger who does not reflect upon the past, he found a man nearly broken, visibly burdened by his own experience. This was not the evilest man in the world, but the heaviest. Not only did he feel regret, it was permanently carved into his face. Pat realized that this was a man who was clearly just doing his best, who while he may have committed crimes against humanity or enabled others to, he was at the end of the day, undeniably human.

--

While Rumsfeld should receive the fullest of consequences for his crimes, if we want to prevent this sort of thing from happening before the fact, we would do well to understand these figures, not to simply vilify or demonized them. While that may serve our own egos, it does not serve the world.
posted by thetruthisjustalie at 11:34 AM on February 25, 2011 [2 favorites]


I have to wonder if some of you are not familiar with the concept of the banality of evil. Calling Rumsfeld or Teller evil doesn't mean they're cartoon villains like Snidely Whiplash. Wrinkles on an old man's face are not evidence of him being "visibly burdened" by anything other than time, and that's a very charitable interpretation of those events. It could just as easily be seen as a Teller thinking your friend Pat was an ally among a mob of detractors, and Pat chickening out.

if we want to prevent this sort of thing from happening before the fact, we would do well to understand these figures, not to simply vilify or demonized them. While that may serve our own egos, it does not serve the world.

They are not hard to understand. They are people who had a sense of moral certainty and they were surrounded by people who encouraged them in that view. They enjoyed a great deal of support from those in power, the press, and the general public. They were parts of an apparatus that exploited peoples' fear and pride. It cannot be prevented before the fact because when it happens it is popular and has political legitimacy. After WWII, it was understood that most countries followed most international norms most of the time. Nuremberg and the UN Charter were moments where it appeared that overarching, common principles would guide responsible nation-states in their relations with one another, including outlawing wars of aggression and the worst violations of the common principles of humanity. Rumsfeld, Cheney, Bush and the like destroyed any remaining possibility of this working again simply because it was convenient, without regard for the consequences. Statements like the one above make me wonder if people even realize how much Bush, Cheney and Rumsfeld have undone.

Vilifying these people is all we have. They will face no consequences beyond our vilification and demonization of them. The Neo-Cons made certain that there would be no authority to hold them accountable and that any attempts to do so at home or abroad would be dismissed as "politically motivated." Rumsfeld and his Neo-Con fraternity are most concerned about being on the "right side of history." Your senses of empathy and sympathy are laudable, but don't let them allow these people to sneak in and re-write their way out of the wrong side of history where they belong.
posted by Hoopo at 1:34 PM on February 25, 2011 [4 favorites]


> chickening out
Really? Compassion is chickening out? Maybe he has different goals and priorities than you.

What Pat did do had far more impact than the guerrilla political shouting some people do at these kinds of events. Pat actually reached this guy - Teller was at near tears just from Pat's presence. It would have been even better had Pat slipped some kind of counter viewpoint right there, but Pat had just experienced a pretty dramatic world-view shift so what he did do is pretty amazing. The others at the table were not detractors, they held exactly the same concerns as Teller, and Pat was the odd one out. Perhaps I didn't tell the story clearly enough, but calling one of my personal heroes at a peak moment 'chicken' is pretty far off the mark.

> They are not hard to understand
And yet this thread can't decide if Rumsfeld is a liar or if he believes what he is saying, or both. There is more understanding to be had.

> don't let them allow these people to sneak in and re-write their way out of the wrong side of history where they belong.
Absolutely not, I agree.
posted by thetruthisjustalie at 2:21 PM on February 25, 2011 [1 favorite]


I'm gonna comment without having read the entire thread, simply because I'm out of time here and need to go somewhere for a whlie, but I wanted to put this thought in.

I really, really, really, wish someone in an interview would ask Rumsfeld how it feels to have shook hands with Saddam Hussein and to know that Saddam is now dead by hanging in a very undignified and horrible manner, because of a choice he made to go to war with Iraq and to depose him of power. How does it feel to set someone up and support them with weapons and military advisors and money for decades and then to go to war with the same person and send your own countrymen to fight against the bullets and bombs that you supplied to your now enemy. How does it feel to know that you were the frontman on those dealings and that the person you were "friends" with one decade and then "enemies" with the next decade.

To me, the over arching story of this whole thing seems to be "create a strong man to go in later to knock down, so you can look like a hero."


"Here' hold this gun. Now point it at me. *BANG* Did you see that? He was pointing a gun at me. I had to kill him." (yes, it's a strange paraphrase from an old western)

That's Donald Rumsfeld's legacy, writ large. That's why many people see him as a bad guy. He's a bad guy, and he knows it. He's a bad guy, and he has a million reasons why he's not.
posted by daq at 2:33 PM on February 25, 2011 [1 favorite]


After WWII, it was understood that most countries followed most international norms most of the time. Nuremberg and the UN Charter were moments where it appeared that overarching, common principles would guide responsible nation-states in their relations with one another, including outlawing wars of aggression and the worst violations of the common principles of humanity

Seriously? The U.N., with a security council veto for the major victorious nations? The Nuremberg trials that conspicuously avoided LeMay and Harris?

Now don't get me wrong, I perceive both things as net goods. Like I said above about authoritarian liberals jumping on board the Iraq war because they thought it would become a net good (of course in the case of Iraq they were probably wrong, that is beside the point).

Holding up the U.N. or Nuremberg as examples of some kind of liberal ideal of balanced justice for all or whatever.. A bit ridiculous. Perhaps a symptom of "greatest generation" propaganda?
posted by Chuckles at 2:33 PM on February 25, 2011


Rumsfeld stands for ... 8 to 10 hours a day.
posted by phoque at 2:36 PM on February 25, 2011


Chuckles, they were steps towards codifying core principles of state behaviour and establishing at least some level of international authority that can hold leaders and high-ranking officials accountable for their crimes against humanity. Say what you will about Nuremberg, it wasn't the same as watching Saddam Hussein hung in front of an angry mob. For the scope of what the UN was trying to do it was bound to be imperfect and flawed, but it was something. I am under no illusion that it was an ideal solution, the point is that because of Rumsfeld and Bush and Cheney the idea now seems more ridiculous than ever.

thetruthisjustalie, I apologize if I've offended you but all we have to go on with your story is faith and an assumption that your friend's "peak moment" was the same for Teller. I remain skeptical that pouring water for your enemies accomplishes anything, as well as doubtful that personal vulnerability negates a capacity for evil.

And yet this thread can't decide if Rumsfeld is a liar or if he believes what he is saying, or both. There is more understanding to be had.

The story you told shows you to be someone who appreciates that personality is complex and multifaceted. I am not sure then why Rumsfeld needs to be only one of these things, and in fact they all may be true in specific instances.
posted by Hoopo at 3:10 PM on February 25, 2011 [2 favorites]


And yet this thread can't decide if Rumsfeld is a liar or if he believes what he is saying, or both.

"It's not a lie if you believe it" only works on the polygraph. Untruth is untruth. Lies are lies.

Maybe Rumsfeld doesn't intend to lie, but he doesn't seem too intent on telling the truth, either. It's all right there in front of him, plain as day, and it always has been--yet everyone else's "known knowns" are still somehow Rumsfeld's "unknown unknowns." That seems like willful blindness, and willful blindness seems a lot like intent -- intent to dodge the truth. Question is, how does one dodge something one cannot see? How does a person construct a narrative with the truth so carefully pruned out without knowing full well what the truth actually is?

The man is a liar.
posted by Sys Rq at 5:16 PM on February 25, 2011


thetruthisjustalie: What Pat did do had far more impact than the guerrilla political shouting some people do at these kinds of events. Pat actually reached this guy - Teller was at near tears just from Pat's presence. It would have been even better had Pat slipped some kind of counter viewpoint right there, but Pat had just experienced a pretty dramatic world-view shift so what he did do is pretty amazing. The others at the table were not detractors, they held exactly the same concerns as Teller, and Pat was the odd one out. Perhaps I didn't tell the story clearly enough, but calling one of my personal heroes at a peak moment 'chicken' is pretty far off the mark.

No, what Pat did was expect an Evil Man to bathe in the blood of infants. Teller was confused by the presence of this fellow who clearly felt a need to be present but wouldn't say why, hell, Teller might have been very afraid. But all Pat saw was a real live flesh and blood human being, which is the same damned thing that Teller was when he gave them those bombs to drop on those people.

Pat was a coward because the only way he could get his bollocks up to vilify Teller was by dehumanizing him through his own emotional appeals. If his resentment of Teller had been cold and dispassionate, he would have spoken up and fucking done anything at all, but when confronted with the actual reality of confrontation itself he balked. Teller might have been a monster, but the man who invented the H-bomb probably would have had the sack to tell you how he felt about you to your face.
posted by paisley henosis at 8:07 PM on February 25, 2011


Pat was a coward because the only way he could get his bollocks up to vilify Teller was by dehumanizing him through his own emotional appeals. If his resentment of Teller had been cold and dispassionate, he would have spoken up and fucking done anything at all, but when confronted with the actual reality of confrontation itself he balked. Teller might have been a monster, but the man who invented the H-bomb probably would have had the sack to tell you how he felt about you to your face.

Yeah, because Pat's saying anything whatsoever to Teller would have somehow made things better. He chose to feel compassion instead of contempt and that makes him a coward.

The problem with a whole lot of liberals is that they think being jackasses just to make themselves feel better is going to somehow further their cause. Say what you will about Fox News, at least their jackassery has some kind of a goal. What you're preaching here is a sort of nihilism — you think that nothing's going to change and so the only thing left to do is fondle your ballsack and relish in the fact that it makes you feel like more of a man. Despicable.

Fucking get real.
posted by Rory Marinich at 9:20 PM on February 25, 2011 [1 favorite]


The problem with a whole lot of x is that they assume everyone they disagree with is y.
posted by Sys Rq at 9:54 PM on February 25, 2011 [1 favorite]


What's all this about ballsacks?
posted by Burhanistan at 10:07 PM on February 25, 2011 [1 favorite]


Rory Marinich: "jackasses ... nihilism ... ballsack ... Despicable.

Fucking get real.
"

Dude.
posted by mwhybark at 11:00 AM on February 26, 2011 [4 favorites]


Uther Bentrazor: someone to 'sit and have a beer with'

And the perfect beer for that would be...

American Tyrant Pale Ale
Brewed with the blood of innocent civilians and honorable soldiers of all ages. The civilian blood gives the beer its characteristic deep red hue, while the surprisingly bitter aftertaste comes from the soldiers' realization (from the after-life, of course) that their lives were wasted creating a disaster that will continue to harm civilization for many years beyond the lives of their own widows and orphans.
posted by fartknocker at 2:27 PM on February 26, 2011


Rory Marinich: their jackassery has some kind of a goal

But the goal is to spread disinformation and sabotage critical thinking. Would Rumsfeld be enjoying his book tour without Fox News? I doubt it. Will he be touring Europe to hock his little memoir/fable? I doubt it. Bullshit only spreads so far.

Rumsfeld is not hard to figure out, as several have mentioned up-thread. The only way you could be confused or at all doubtful would be from listening to what he says. If you look at what he has done, it's plain that he's a war criminal. No further need for discussion until he's sitting before the judge.
posted by fartknocker at 2:52 PM on February 26, 2011


American Tyrant Pale Ale
You can taste the suffering!
posted by fartknocker at 3:34 PM on February 26, 2011 [1 favorite]


Rory Marinich: Say what you will about Fox News

Defending pasificm AND For News all in one go.

That is some Grade A trolling.
posted by paisley henosis at 12:38 PM on February 27, 2011


THAT IS NOT WHAT TROLLING MEANS
posted by shakespeherian at 6:50 PM on February 27, 2011




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