It's not that U.S. Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld is such a pompous arrogant prick that I find so grating. It's that he so often says the most inane, meaningless things and never gets called on them.
Take his recent blitherings regarding the not-going-away-anytime-soon insurgency in Iraq:
We're not going to win against the insurgency. The Iraqi people are going to win against the insurgency. That insurgency could go on for any number of years. Insurgencies tend to go on five, six, eight, 10, 12 years.
Many people are now saying, based on those words, that la Donald claimed the insurgency might last for another 12 years. Those people would be wrong, as Rumsfeld's statement is utterly meaningless twaddle.
How many years? Five. Or maybe six. Hey, perhaps eight. Conceivably 10. Or 12. Let's say 12, how about that? Oh, hell, let's just say "any number" and be done with it, OK?
What you're seeing is the standard Donald Rumsfeld random idiocy generator, in which he appears to pontificate while really throwing out data totally at random. Somewhere between five and 12. Sure, that narrows it down. The above statement is as meaningful (as in, not at all) as another famous Rumsfeld offering:
On March 30, 11 days into the war, Rumsfeld said in an ABC News interview when asked about WMDs: "We know where they are. They're in the area around Tikrit and Baghdad and east, west, south and north somewhat."
What the fuck does that even mean? Utter gibberish, yet it was dutifully printed by every member of the media as if it had actual content. But that's not even the end of it. Once again,
"Insurgencies tend to go on five, six, eight, 10, 12 years."
Really? Insurgencies tend to go on for a certain number of years? I wasn't aware that insurgencies had a industry-standard expected life span. Obviously, I've never read my top-secret, Department of Defense "Insurgencies for Dummies" guide or I'd know this kind of thing. But has a single interviewer asked Rumsfeld where he gets this wisdom? Not that I know of.
And then there's that smug, condescending brush-off by Rumsfeld that everyone's read about by now:
"Well, you know, everybody's running around trying to make a division between what the vice president said or someone else said. The fact is that if you look at the context of his remarks, last throes could be a violent last throe, just as well as a placid or calm last throe. Look it up in the dictionary."
I'd love to, but the phrase "last throe" is not in the dictionary. I've checked. Just more Rumsfeldian bullshit, and no one in the mainstream media with the moxie to say so.
AFTERSNARK: I would, of course, be grossly remiss if I didn't mention Rumsfeld's greatest contribution to utter psychobabble, from back in June, 2003:
“There are known knowns. These are things we know that we know. There are known unknowns. That is to say, there are things that we know we don’t know. But there are also unknown unknowns. There are things we don’t know we don’t know.”
And, God help us, there are lots more on that page.