One thing you can say about Donald Rumsfeld, he's consistent. Contemptuous and arrogant right up until the very end of his disastrous tenure. Or, to put it in Rumsfeldese: Am I Don Rumsfeld? Sure. Am I going to continue to put the needs of my own preening ego above the interests of the United States? You bet!
I'm talking about Rumsfeld's "surprise" farewell visit to the troops in Iraq this past weekend. With Rumsfeld ready to clean out his office, what, specifically, was the purpose of this trip? Do our soldiers really need more empty jingoism right now? Had Rumsfeld put the same amount of energy and thought into providing sufficient resources for them as he did into his pathetic, clowning, showboating rhetorical gymnastics, a lot more of them would have been around for his last cynical photo-op.
And though it pales in comparison to the over $350 billion we've already spent in Iraq, what was the cost of this little jaunt? Getting Rumsfeld over there, providing security for him, and stage managing this ego band-aid didn't come cheap.
And all for what, exactly?
Apparently, so the Pentagon can post a "news article" with the headline:
"Troops Haven't Lost Faith in Rumsfeld"
And so Rumsfeld could tell the troops:
"For the past six years, I have had the opportunity and, I would say the privilege, to serve with the greatest military on the face of the Earth."
Yes, I'm sure that's true, but why do more lives have to be endangered and more money spent so that a lame lame-duck Defense Secretary can go over and repeat what we all already know?
Or so, as the Pentagon article puts it, the troops can be reminded that:
"The enemy threatens all Americans hold dear and does not want people to have freedom to worship, speak, read or even think, Rumsfeld said. 'The enemy must be defeated.'"
Thanks, Donald. Without that kind of nuanced thinking, there would be no American troops in Iraq for you to address.
Truth be told, this trip wasn't for the troops -- it was, like so much of what Donald Rumsfeld did during his tenure, for Donald Rumsfeld.
Rah-rah photo-ops are not what the troops need right now. I have no doubt their fighting spirit and dedication are every bit as high as Rumsfeld says they are. But why did the Secretary feel it was in the best interests of the country for him to go say "farewell" in person? How about a mass email instead? A farewell video on YouTube, perhaps?
But, no, those wouldn't have bucked up Rumsfeld's spirit quite as much. And, really, isn't that what it's all about? Our whole tragic foray into Iraq has been about the needs of a few select egos from the start, so why should anything change now, just because we're over three years and almost 3,000 dead American soldiers into it?
This trip was about Donald Rumsfeld showing the country that while he may have been fired he was going out the same way he came in -- strutting, pompous, and self-serving. The horrors caused by his failures haven't dimmed his arrogance one iota. And that, in Rumsfeld-speak, is a "known-known."