Rumsfeld, Poet Laureate

A few years ago, Slate magazine posted an article titled The Poetry of D.H. Rumsfeld which included several unmodified quotes from Donald Rumsfeld in poem form. Sublime and thought-provoking, Rumsfeld’s poetry invokes – with depth and the wisdom of experience – the modern global condition.

OK, not really. He’s just a big evil dumbass most of the time. But unlike his big evil dumbass boss, Rumsfeld is strikingly articulate in his perfected idiom of equivocation and obfuscation. I also believe his mastery of the dependent clause to be unrivaled among his poet-politician contemporaries. I also have to grant that occasionally his statements, though obtuse and seemingly nonsensical, are quite profound. For example, Slate’s first pick – “The Unknown” – quite accurately described the situation America faced in Iraq (nevermind that going to war based solely on a fourth and unmentioned type of knowledge – the “fabricated known” – wasn’t a very good idea).

Anyway, I have painstakingly searched through web publications of notable Rumsfeld speeches and through the annals of the Department of Defense transcripts archive to bring you more examples of this man’s poetic genius. Enjoy.

Directive 1011

What we’ve simply got to do is to,
When progress
Broke down
As it did,
Came to a dead stop

And we were prohibited from
Going forward, the
Various studies that were put in place, the
Independent analyses that were asked for, the
Assessments that were made
Have now been coming in and
As they have it will require
That they be put together,
Analyzed and then

A recommendation made to the Congress.

— 10.11.05, Dept. of Defense Town Hall Meeting, MacDill AFB, Florida


He’s got about six
Hypothetical questions
All linked together there
And interacting
In a semi-violent way.

— 10.11.05, Dept. of Defense Town Hall Meeting, MacDill AFB, Florida

More Questions

So without getting into
Some of the aspects of your question
That I don’t want you to think
That I didn’t know
That I’m not getting into them,
Because I do know that
I’m not getting into them —
Let me say that we’re on the side of history
And history’s on the side of freedom,
And that’s the side to be on.

— 10.11.05, Dept. of Defense Town Hall Meeting, MacDill AFB, Florida

Advice for the President

I always promise myself
I won’t blurt out an answer
From a pinnacle
Of near-perfect ignorance.

— 10.11.05, Dept. of Defense Town Hall Meeting, MacDill AFB, Florida


There used to be a ferry connecting San Diego to Coronado.
There was no bridge.
There’s a big bridge now,
But in those days it was a ferry.
The cars would line up
waiting to get on the ferry going out
and then people would come in
the other way.

— 8.29.05, Comments made en route to Fort Irwin


They’ll all nod and say, “Well,
I really don’t like it,
It’s not perfect,
But it’s good enough,

And by golly,
If we have to amend it,
Lots of other countries
Have amended their constitution.

If there’s something we made a mistake on,
We’ll just have to fix it later,
Or let the parliament do it in January
With a new parliament
After we have elections
Under that new constitution.”

This is not easy stuff.

— 08.23.05, Dept. of Defense Briefing

Fond Farewell

You could just get up
And give a testimonial
To how much you’ve enjoyed working here
And how much you respect all the people
That you’ve had the privilege to meet.
But that isn’t likely.

— 08.23.05, Dept. of Defense Briefing

The Inner Gyroscope of Freedom

To be sure,
In a wave of emotion
People can get pushed to one side
Or a view can take place
That really isn’t the true view,
But people have an inner gyroscope.

They have a good mooring lines,
And they come back to center.
And if we keep saying what the truth is
And we keep doing our jobs,
By golly,
They’ll figure it out
And they’ll be supportive
And you can count on it.

— 07.27.05, Town Hall Meeting in Balad, Iraq

The Future

I would not say that the future
Is necessarily less predictable
Than the past.
I think the past
Was not predictable
When it started.

— 04.03.03, Dept. of Defense Briefing

The Dumbest Thing

The dumbest thing anyone could do
Would be to stand up here
And start previewing things
That somebody’s thinking about
Or not thinking about
Or starting to disabuse you
Of each thing somebody tells you
That we’re thinking about,
Because then the first time
We don’t disabuse you,
You’ll say “aha –
That’s what they’re going to do!”

— 05.24.02, Dept. of Defense Briefing

The Moon

The construct I would suggest would be —
What are the benefits —
What are the advantages and disadvantages of not acting?
And of course, the advantage of not acting —
Against the moon —
Would be that no one could say that you acted.
They would say,
“Isn’t that good —
You didn’t do anything against the moon.”

The other side of the coin
Of not acting against the moon,
In the event that the moon
Posed a serious threat,
Would be that you then suffered
A serious loss,
And you’re sorry
After that’s over.

— 8.20.02, Dept. of Defense Briefing


This is fantastic —
I’ve got a laser pointer!
Holy mackerel

— 11.27.01, Dept. of Defense Briefing

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