I declare my undying love for Donald Rumsfeld
There cannot be many jobs more difficult than being a United States Ambassador under the Bush Administration. In their chummy world of compromise, half-truths, conciliations, and diplomatic immunity, dealing with blunt statements and verbal provocation from a man who stumbles on the words "subliminal" and "nuclear," must be a blow to one's ego on par with the asteroid that killed off the dinosaurs.
The right-thinking among us scoff at the petty antagonisms Bush, Rumsfeld, and others throw at our European counterparts. I heard someone say, "Going to war with France is like going duck-hunting without your accordion." Unnecessary? Perhaps.
Nonetheless, we all claim we want politicians who call it like they see it, who speak their heart and mind, who don't mince words. It's seen as a stroke of honesty-"opinion polls be damned, this is what I think." That seems to be a lot of the appeal of Howard Dean. He's angry about something and, by God, he's going to tell you what it is. I don't agree with him, but I can respect that. That was the appeal of John McCain and his "Straight Talk Express."
I have to say I love it when a public figure goes out on a limb and says something they truly believe in. If it serves nothing else, we can at least hold them accountable. There are few things I hate more than a politician saying the same scripted PC crap, expressing their heartfelt concern, telling us about Joe so-and-so who did this, or can't do that, bumbling through statements with a coma-inducing goodwill and crocodile tears while ignoring the point completely. This is what makes presidential debates so boring-nobody wants to answer anything directly.
It's also why I love Donald Rumsfeld. There, I said it. I love Donald Rumsfeld. His unerring ability to get to the heart of the matter simply astounds me. As people quarreled over the schisms in the West, wondering what caused the division between France-Germany and U.S.-Britain and Eastern Europe, Rumsfeld, with a perversely concise phrase, got right to the heart of the matter. One was Old Europe, the other New. Simplistic? Oui.
During one of his daily press conferences, a reporter asked him what our goals were in Afghanistan. Rumsfeld bluntly stated that our goal was to kill as many al Qaeda terrorists as possible. Wh-wh-what? Kill them? Our goal is to kill them? Politicians don't say things like that anymore. They use euphemisms. They try not to spell out the fact that their goal is the death of their enemy. They at least imply that they will try to capture if possible, but, you know, troops have the right to defend themselves and if something happens well....
George Orwell wrote, "In our time, political speech and writing are largely the defense of the indefensible. Things can indeed be defended, but only by arguments which are too brutal for most people to face, and which do not square with the professed aims of political parties. Thus, political language has to consist largely of euphemism, question-begging, and sheer cloudy vagueness."
This is disturbing. One does not have to believe in what the Bush Administration is doing to at least concede they are being direct about it (whether their information is right or wrong), and that this is on the whole a good thing. It sure beats the run-around that some of the Democratic candidates are giving the public about their vote in support of the war. Kerry has gone so far as to say he voted only for the threat of war, actual words of the resolution authorizing the use of force aside.
When politicians give those who put them in office the run-around, when they try to massage our sensibilities and pander to our feelings of doubt and insecurity with a scripted message of well rehearsed feel-good sludge adorned with a look of resigned necessity in the way they hold their head and shoulders and bite their lip, I am convulsed with the urge to vomit.
Don't tell the people that you might support a comprehensive system of state-supported medical care to ensure the health of everyone. Tell us you support universal health care. Don't say that you are interested in ameliorating the undue burden of mandated appropriations to the government. Say you want to cut taxes. And for the love of God, if you're using the military for the "elimination of unreliable elements," as Orwell satirized, please just say you're trying to kill the enemy.
There is a beauty in bluntness. This is a republican form of government
and the authority is derived from the people. While it is understandable
and expected that interested parties will spin events to their advantage,
it is a sad day when the elites feel the need to patronize those they
serve through language.