Donald Rumsfeld Is Mad As a Hatter


Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld is mad. No, I mean seriously ill. Mentally ill. Demonstrably so.

I can't say whether or not he was mad from the start, but I can tell you with some degree of certainty that he is now. And he's getting worse. Each successive news conference he sounds more and more like the character, Dr. Charles Montague, who was head of "The Place for the Very, Very Nervous" in the 1977 Mel Brooks flick, High Anxiety.

Don got so nutty during his weekly news conference last week that Joint Chiefs head, General Pace, had to reel him in; not once, but twice. The first time was when Pace used the accepted term, "insurgents," to describe the indigenous fighters in Iraq.

Rumsfeld interrupted, waving both hands over his head, to announce that over the weekend he had had an epiphany. We've been using the wrong term entirely to describe the Iraqis killing our troops over there, he pronounced from on high. They are not "insurgents," they are "Enemies of the Legally Elected Iraqi Government," or EOLEIGs. (Guess we know now why Donald never made it as a corporate jingle writer.)

Now ask yourself, what kind of person but a nut, would make such a pronouncement at a time when American kids are being blown up by the dozen each week? And to do so with such pompous grandiosity, on TV, and to cynical, hard-boiled reporters! Only a madman, a person so deeply confused in his own mind that he thinks his absurd ruling actually is contributing to a solution.

What on earth was he thinking? Actually, nothing new. Renaming fighters in Iraq has become a veritable hobby for Don. He's been re-branding the Iraqi fighters since the day we arrived there. Before the war even started he didn't even have a term for them because, he assured us, there would be no opposition to a U.S. attack on their country. But after Saddam was gone and U.S. troops started dying, Don told the same TV cameras to pay them no attention because, he said then, they were just a handful of "Dead-Enders" (D.E.'s).

As conditions in Rumsfeld's newly liberated Iraq deteriorated further, he renamed them again. No longer Dead Enders, they were now "Foreign Terrorist Fighters." And better yet, he said, they had been reduced to a rag-tag bunch that were "in their last throes."

Once Rumsfeld was done revealing his renaming epiphany he gave the microphone back to a clearly embarrassed General Pace. The general was faced with the choice of joining his boss in Looneyland, or using the now banned term, insurgents. Instead he said, Yeah, what he just said.

If Rumsfeld says such nutty things right on TV, you can imagine the thoughts he shares with subordinates back in the privacy of his office at the Pentagon. Where Yeah, what he just said becomes the day's marching orders.

The second time General Pace had to reel Rumsfeld in was when Pace was asked by reporters if U.S. troops in Iraq were supposed to step in and stop Iraqi troops from abusing fellow Iraqis. Pace was in the process of giving the right answer (yes), when Don-in-the-Box popped up again. "But I don't think you mean they have an obligation to physically stop it; it's to report it," he corrected the general.

Pace had no choice. "If they are physically present when inhumane treatment is taking place, sir, they have an obligation to try to stop it."

The look on Rumsfeld's face was the same look parents get when they tell their teenagers, "If your friends start drinking or using drugs you leave that party and come straight home!" You know the look -- the eyeballs rollup as the head jerks dismissively to one side.

From that look it was clear that Rumsfeld believes that, while U.S. troops had the right to invade Iraq, topple its government and occupy the country, they have no business telling Iraqis not to beat, torture or kill their own folks. Not our job, he says. (Administration vice-enabler, Dick Cheney, appears to agree.)

So we now have a certifiable loon in charge of the most powerful military on the face of the earth. Shouldn't someone do something? I mean, if Bush insists on having a nut in this post, at least hire a harmless nut. The world is full of them. He could find less nutty nuts downtown in any major city. Pick one with less dangerous notions than Don has. That way the weekly Pentagon news conferences would continue being ever so entertaining, but fewer people would get killed.

It's time for someone to tell Donald Rumsfeld, "No more fruit cup for you!"

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