The Corner

Wanting to See Rumstud Fall

Reading the Washington Post piece on yesterday’s hearings (the Senate one, mostly), I can’t help but imagine a few gleeful faces in newsrooms across across the nation. As McCain grandstanded a little, someone sang, under his breath, but still audible, “Ding dong, the witch is dead.” Of course, he’s not. And, I thought he had some of his best moments at the near end of the six hours on the House side (when the print journalists already filed and the prime-time news packages were already set). Anyway, here’s some flavor of David Von Drehle’s piece:

This image of a powerless secretary unable to summon up a cheap piece of plastic in the face of a “catastrophe,” as Rumsfeld described the prison scandal, was a long way from the boldly assured Rumsfeld of a year ago. Back then, during the U.S. military’s lightning drive on Baghdad, the civilian architect of two wars in two years described a computerized force in which data leapt from soldier to satellite to smart bomb, in which unimaginable firepower was just a few keystrokes away.

Rumsfeld was a sort of Achilles for the Information Age, and his bold assurance won him a place among People magazine’s sexiest humans. President Bush nicknamed him “Rumstud.”

Like Achilles, he had a vulnerable heel. Rumsfeld returned over and over again to the idea that the military has effectively handled the prison crisis as a criminal matter but failed to realize that those pictures were, themselves, high-tech dynamite. One-stripe soldiers could zip the disastrous images through the ether, but the Pentagon could not get them onto Rumsfeld’s radar screen at even an 18th-century pace.


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