Wednesday, November 08, 2006

My Dinner with Rummy

So Donald Rumsfeld is out as Secretary of Defense. Lost Chord has this exclusive interview:

LC: Is your resignation a result of the outcome of the midterm elections?

DR: Well, I think that anyone who looks at it with the benefit of 20/20 hindsight has to say that there was not an anticipation that the level of insurgency would be anything approximating what it is. The president had some concerns and I told him I welcomed the debate and to make his case. And we've ended up adjusting or changing or calibrating.

LC: What do you mean you've "adjusted or changed or calibrated?" Didn't the president ask you to resign?

DR: Well, you know, I mean it's awfully easy to be on the outside and to opine on this and opine on that and critique that. The White House is a big place. It's like any big institution. It's resistant to change. Change is hard for people, and there've been a lot of squealing and screeching and complaints as, as the change took place in this election. And I would say that it's attitude and culture as much as anything else. Change makes people feel uncomfortable. Well, it's unfortunate. But life has to go on and the things have to get done, and the American people have to be ignored.

LC: Uh, yeah. So, the president did NOT ask you to resign?

DR: He understands we're in a global war. He understands that defeat is not an option.

LC: So are you or are you not resigning?

DR: Am I tough? Yes. Am I smart? Yes. Am I fair? Yes. Am I focused? Yes. Am I--

LC: resigning?

DR: Stop. ... General, there was no verb in the last sentence.

LC: What?

DR: I would not say that the future is necessarily less predictable than the past. I think the past was not predictable when it started. Freedom's untidy, and free people are free to make mistakes and commit crimes and do bad things.

LC: But the president announced your resignation.

DR: Needless to say, the President is correct. Whatever it was he said.

LC: So you know the president has replaced you?

DR: Don't automatically obey Presidential directives if you disagree or if you suspect he hasn't considered key aspects of the issue.

LC: Um. . .

DR: If I said yes, that would then suggest that that might be the only place where it might be done which would not be accurate, necessarily accurate. It might also not be inaccurate, but I'm disinclined to mislead anyone.

LC: Wait, I'm confused.

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

LC: With all due respect, sir, you're not making much sense.

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

LC: OK, then. I don't know what the hell you're talking about.

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

LC: Who are you talking about?

DR: I'm not into this detail stuff. I'm more concepty. I don't do quagmires. I don't do diplomacy. I don't do foreign policy. I don't do predictions. I don't do numbers. I don't do book reviews.

LC: And now you don't do Secretary of Defense.

DR: Now, settle down, settle down. Hell, I'm an old man, it's early in the morning and I'm gathering my thoughts here.

LC: May I ask about your future plans?

DR: If I know the answer I'll tell you the answer, and if I don't, I'll just respond, cleverly. I don't worry about me. I get up in the morning and my wife Joyce rolls over and says, 'Get out there and do it.'

LC: Get out where and do what?

DR: I believe what I said yesterday. I don't know what I said, but I know what I think, and, well, I assume it's what I said.

LC: Wait, you said what, when?

DR: I am not going to give you a number for it because it's not my business to do intelligent work.

LC: So where will you go when you leave Washington?

DR: In the area around Tikrit and Baghdad and east, west, south and north somewhat.

LC: So you're going to the war zone?

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

LC: Sir, you said that many months ago. What does it have to do with your stepping down?

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

LC: Final thoughts?

DR: 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.

LC: Thank you for your time, Mr. Rumsfeld.

DR: Don't do or say things you would not like to see on the front page of The Washington Post.

LC: Uh, yeah. I'll keep that in mind.