Drunk on Rummy
By Maureen Dowd
New York Times
Sunday 28 September 2003
There are many disturbing passages in the soon-to-be-published book "Rumsfeld: A Personal Portrait," by Midge Decter.
Ms. Decter is doyenne of the neocon movement, wife of the neocon patriarch Norman Podhoretz; mother of John Podhoretz, the neocon Iraqi war cheerleader and new "West Wing" adviser; and friend of the neocon clan of the ber-hawk Bill Kristol.
Her son wrote in his New York Post column last February that those who worried that the Bush team had no postwar vision were "pathetic" sophists: "No one has thought more deeply or seriously about what a post-Saddam Middle East could or should look like than Bush's foreign-policy team. The question has been a near-obsession for conservative foreign-policy intellectuals for more than a decade."
Now Mom has written a love ode to the 71-year-old "studmuffin" defense secretary so palpitating it recalls the clip of a teenage Judy Garland singing "You Made Me Love You" to a picture of Clark Gable.
Others may be wondering whether the Bush administration had a testosterone explosion that sent America a cropper in Iraq, alienating the allies and infuriating the Iraqis, building up hate and debt.
Others may be demanding Donald Rumsfeld's McNamara-slick head, as John Kerry did on CNN: "He rushed this to war. He has not listened to the military personnel. Our military is weaker today. They're overextended. He and Mr. Wolfowitz proceeded with false assumptions."
Teddy is spoiling for a fight with Rummy. "The tragedy," Senator Kennedy said on the Senate floor Friday, "is that our troops are paying with their lives because the administration failed to prepare a plan to win the peace."
But swelling problems in Iraq have not impeded Ms. Decter's swooning prose. The chapter on invading Iraq is called "Push Comes to Shove." (Shouldn't it be called "Bush Comes to Shove"?) The author avers that Rummy's manly Midwestern aura will prove a more potent legacy than his changes in the military.
"The consensus among many of Rumsfeld's friends is that the role he has come to play is somehow connected to his qualities and experiences as a wrestler," she writes. The book is replete with hubba-hubba photos of Rummy wrestling, playing polo, skiing, on a tractor. The one in his Navy flight suit features the caption, "On duty to self and country." (World domination to follow.)
The word to describe Rummy, she says in Helen Gurley Brown italics, is manliness. (I would describe him as the man who trashed two countries, spent hundreds of billions, exhausted our troops, but still hasn't found Osama, Saddam or W.M.D.)
Democrats are melting over the heroic manliness of their general, but Midge and Rummy have a back story. In 1997, they were both co-signers, along with Norman Podhoretz, Paul Wolfowitz, Dick Cheney and Mr. Cheney's future chief of staff, Scooter Libby, of the Project for the New American Century's manifesto, which became a blueprint for the wrestle-the-world-to-the-mat pre-emptive foreign policy that would become the Bush doctrine, once Mr. Cheney and Mr. Libby installed it in President Bush's head.
As riveting as Midge finds Rummy, it is her description of Paul Wolfowitz as a "former mathematician" that riveted me. The whole attitude of Rummy and Wolfie at Congressional hearings was "Barbie hates math." They couldn't come up with a concrete number for anything.
Skeptical, I checked and discovered that Wolfie's father was a mathematician from Cornell who specialized in probability and statistics; he hoped his son would follow in his footsteps, considering political science on a par with astrology.
Instead, his son chose the field of obscuring probability and statistics, refusing to cooperate with lawmakers to add up how much the war was going to cost in dollars and troops and years, or to multiply the probable exponential problems of remaking the Middle East, or even to subtract the billions that were never coming from snubbed allies.
I guess Wolfie never calculated the division in America his omissions would cause when we finally got a load of the bill - including $100 million to hide the families of 100 Iraqis in the witness protection program, $19 million for post office Wi-Fi, $50 million for traffic cops and $9 million for ZIP codes. At these prices, the Baghdad ZIP better be 90210.
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