Thursday, February 10, 2011
Rumsfeld: 'You Can Write Whatever You Want'
When asked to give his own assessment, Rumsfeld told presidential historian Michael Beschloss: "Let's give it 20 years or so and let you and other historians write it." When Beschloss pressed: "What do you think we'll write?" Rumselfled had a quick answer. "Heck," he replied "In 20 years I'll be 98-years-old. You can write whatever you want."
Comments like that captivated an audience of more than 700 last night at Philadelphia's National Constitution Center as Rumsfeld kicked off the signing tour for his new book, Known and Unknown. In his a lively, spontaneous, 80-minute chat with the noted presidential scholar Rumsfeld was in rare form.
It's worth noting that a capacity crowd turned out for Rumsfeld on what was probably the coldest night of the winter in Philadelphia. And they were not disappointed.
Here's are some other snippets from Rumsfeld's chat:
This is America. We don't govern by command. We govern by persuasion and leadership to build trust. To govern, you must persuade. Unless you do that, you can't govern.
George W. Bush decided that we couldn't wait -- that if we didn't want to be attacked again, we had to make everything harder for the terrorists -- harder for them to operate day-to-day. We had to make things difficult for them.
We are unlikely, for a period of time, to have the kind of clarity we had in World War II because of the nature of the world we now live in.
Government just stays there. It can't fold. It can't fail, as businesses do. And so the inefficiencies just compound.
We had 10,000 lawyers just in the Department of Defense. 10,000 lawyers. I don't know how anything can function with 10,000 lawyers.
And finally, Rummy cautioned against underestimating common-sense conservative leaders like Reagan and 'W' with this classic observation:
I'm 78 years-old and have lived a third of our nation's history and almost every Republican president in my lifetime was considered not too swift.