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‘The President’s Pretty Much a Victim of Success’

This has to be heard to be believed, and luckily there’s an audio clip. Out from the Pentagon document-dump on its media manipulation comes the proceedings of Donald Rumsfeld’s valedictory lunch (a liquid one!) with his retired-officer TV surrogates. (Some of them, by the way, like retired Army Col. Jack Jacobs, are truly decent people who clearly had too much integrity for Rummy’s attempted brainwashing, so don’t get it twisted.) On December 12, 2006, this happened — take the mic, Gillis:

In one of the first substantive comments Rumsfeld makes, the second clip from the top (0:36), he explains carefully that while the USA is involved in asymmetric warfare, we can’t lose militarily–but we can’t win militarily, either. Oh, gee, THANKS Mr. Rumsfeld! Now you tell us? Somebody owes somebody like Senators Harry Reid and Joe Biden a great big fat apology, since that’s exactly what they’ve been arguing for years now, to sharp rebuke from Administration spokespersons for “defeatism.” But it’s the end of that clip that’s the real kick in the rear. “We aren’t going to go around the world for the numbers of years it took Algeria, for example, to subdue an insurgency,” he declares. Oh, yeah? Maybe he better tell that to Senator McCain, who seems to have his heart set on a new Hundred Years War.

Also, President Bush is “pretty much a victim of success.” No attack at home, right? Hey, it’s not like we need to factor in al-Qaeda’s long-term planning, and how it or anything. And it’s also not like we need to factor in the rising tide of jihadist attacks overseas, or the futile and provocative and counterproductive Iraq war. Oh, I forgot, those are all reasons to keep doing what Bush already did.

One more excerpt.

Finally, let’s get to politics. Pure, unadulterated partisan politics. One of the questioners, I think probably Lt. General Michael DeLong (USMC, Ret)–you can hear Rumsfeld address “Mike” earlier in the question and there’s only one Michael in the room–opens a “way, way off the record” question by trashing Senator Carl Levin, the incoming chair of the Senate Armed Services Committee, and Representative Silvestre Reyes, the incoming Chair of the House Intelligence Committee, then tries to goad Rumsfeld into joining in by suggesting the “we have a really rough two years coming.” Rumsfeld rambles on about European demographics, Chinese cyberwar and smallpox as a bio-weapon before the questioner prods him back on topic by asking, “Politically, what are the challenges because you’re not going to have a lot of sympathetic ears up there [on Capitol Hill]?” which is where I pick up the clip (1:17).

Rumsfeld’s answer is nothing short of stunning. No, not the part where he claims Bush is a “Victim of his success.” That’s just stupid. And no, after hearing his previous insult to the American public, his condemnation of us because “we don’t have the maturity” to recognize the threat of terrorism–the further we get from 9/11, the less and less . . . he trails off. But that’s not shocking, nor is his doomsday scenario, all things considered.

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