We met the height of hypocrisy on Friday when Bush gave Rumsfeld a “Going Away Parade” while Dick Cheney danced in the grass with admiration — not for the dead — but for the deadly, in the guise of his old-school pal, Rummy.
The parade was also a smiling burial ceremony for the Iraq Study Group’s recommendations.
There’s nothing quite as atrocious as throwing a parade to celebrate all your failures that are measured in pints of blood and countless coffins and not ribbons and flags.
Rumsfeld was given a color guard, marching musicians with piccolo players, a 19-gun salute — Cheney’s shotgun was reportedly not part of the festivities — and the undying applause of his best neocon buddies who all helped him perpetuate the Iraq war in America when we only wanted to pay back Afghanistan.
All that seems predictably crass enough, but the pinnacle of the “Incredible Inappropriate Comment” happened earlier in the week when Bush told People Magazine, “I must tell you, I’m sleeping a lot better than people would assume,” and if that wasn’t insult enough to the families of the dead soldiers who bled their hearts out in Iraq, he also told Fox news his presidency has been “joyful.”
I can’t think of a single parent that would ever be “joyful” standing over the coffin of their buried child, who served a sleeping and joyous president, while finding death in duty from the dirt of Iraq. Why let death and mayhem ruin a parade?
Joyce Rumsfeld, Rummy’s wife, even received a “Distinguished Public Service Award” ribbon for placing around her neck.
“Today, it should be clear that not only is weakness provocative,” Mr. Rumsfeld said, standing at a lectern with President Bush and Vice President Dick Cheney at his side, “but the perception of weakness on our part can be provocative as well.”It was a clear parting shot at those considering a withdrawal from war that would define his legacy and perhaps that of the president. “A conclusion by our enemies that the United States lacks the will or the resolve to carry out missions that demand sacrifice and demand patience is every bit as dangerous as an imbalance of conventional military power,” Mr. Rumsfeld said in a buoyant but sometimes emotional speech.
The real parade sunders below them all in their infinite indecision.
In opening remarks, Gen. Peter Pace, the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, did refer indirectly to the Abu Ghraib torture scandal, which Mr. Rumsfeld has called the low mark of his tenure. But General Pace did so in complimenting Mr. Rumsfeld for ultimately taking the blame for prisoner abuses for which the general placed blame on others down the chain of command.Mr. Cheney’s declaration that “Don Rumsfeld is the finest secretary of defense the nation has ever had,” was more in keeping with the tone of the event. With Mr. Rumsfeld’s resignation — forced by Mr. Bush as he seeks a new approach in Iraq — Mr. Cheney is losing one of his closest allies in the administration. Mr. Rumsfeld hired Mr. Cheney to work in the Ford administration.
Both men served as White House chief of staff, in the House of Representatives and as secretary of defense. (Mr. Rumsfeld has been secretary of defense twice, the first time for President Ford.)
It must be time for the rest of us to take a nap and try to dream up the joy that comes so easily to minds that only worry about their place in history and never the deaths at the hands of the infinite now.