Donald Rumsfeld performed great during his interview tonight with Jim Lehrer at PBS. Some highlights:
JIM LEHRER: Sen. John McCain, a Republican, has said more than once that he has no confidence in you any more as secretary of defense. Does that bother you, that kind of stuff?
DONALD RUMSFELD: No, it really doesn’t. I mean, there are always going to be people who have that opinion of anybody who’s out on the spear point doing things. And, you know, if you do something somebody is not going to like it. And if you don’t do anything, nobody is going to not like that. But who wants to live a life like that?
JIM LEHRER: So when you hear these kinds of things or read these kinds of things, you look at it that way. In other words, this just goes with the job. You don’t say hey, wait a minute; maybe I have done something wrong; maybe I’ve got to rethink some things here; maybe —
DONALD RUMSFELD: Oh, my goodness, we rethink things all the time. We are constantly calibrating, constantly talking and discussing and how can we do whatever it is we are doing better.
But no, it does not surprise me that in a war there are — think back to any war in history. My goodness, George Washington was almost fired. Abraham Lincoln was vilified by everybody around and ridiculed.
Certainly in my lifetime, think of what was said about Franklin Roosevelt and his leadership there. I mean, he was called a traitor to the country and he was just — it was violent against him, the hostility.
Harry Truman in the Korean War; Lyndon Baines Johnson, you have been around; this is nothing new. This is what happens. Read the Civil War, read World War I.
JIM LEHRER: You made a speech earlier this week where you said the news media should reassess the way it covers Iraq. What do you mean?
DONALD RUMSFELD: Oh, I think that it’s — if you look where the news media is, it’s down very low at the polls. If you want to get into public opinion polls, people in that business are right down near the bottom.
Jim LehrerJIM LEHRER: Tell me about it.
DONALD RUMSFELD: You know that. Yeah, does it bother you?
JIM LEHRER: (laughter) Hey, I ask the questions here!
DONALD RUMSFELD: No, I think what is happening — and this is the first war that has ever been conducted in the 21st century when you had talk radio, the Internet, e-mails, bloggers, 24-hour news, digital cameras, video cameras, instant access to everything, and we haven’t accommodated to that yet.
JIM LEHRER: We meaning?
DONALD RUMSFELD: The world, the society. And we’re up against an enemy that understands that they can’t win anything in Iraq. They cannot win a battle. The only place they can win is in Washington, D.C. And they know that. And they have media committees. And they are –.
JIM LEHRER: You say this — excuse me, you say they can’t win a battle but they killed 34 people, innocent people on a bus today, they killed 40 Iraqi police two days ago.
DONALD RUMSFELD: It does not take a genius to strap a suicide thing on your body and go in and kill yourself and kill other people. That’s not a battle.
JIM LEHRER: But it’s a war, isn’t it?
DONALD RUMSFELD: It is an aspect of war. But they can’t win the war over there. The only place they can win it is in Washington, D.C. And they know that. And they are working it; and they are working it skillfully. And they lie.
And what’s happening is the transmission belt that receives it spreads all these things. I mean think of the people killed when the false story was spread around the world about a Koran being flushed down the toilet. The other day someone was –
JIM LEHRER: The news organization did that, retracted it and apologized.
DONALD RUMSFELD: People were killed in between there.
JIM LEHRER: Right, right.
DONALD RUMSFELD: To find the truth out takes weeks. To spread something that’s not true takes five minutes. And it’s all over the globe. This is a different environment. And we have to recognize it’s different. My only comment was look, you have got a bunch of journalists out there, some of them risking their lives and they’re trying to do a good job, I’m sure.
And I’m to be judgmental about it. But people keep saying we should reassess what we are doing. We should evaluate. We do, we do systemic lessons learned after every war, after every battle. And it’s in real time where we look and say what could we have done better; what might we do differently; what’s the enemy doing?
And I just said, you know, that might not be a bad idea for the media in the 21st century to have an assessment and see how they are doing because there was a dramatic difference between what the e-mails coming back from the troops in the field — every time I talk to soldiers, sailors, Marines, airmen, they ask me why doesn’t the true story get told about what we are doing here. They are doing superb work in Afghanistan. They are doing superb work in Iraq. And the message back here is that nobody knows what they are doing; that they are not doing well; that they are losing.
IM LEHRER: Do you agree with them? Do you agree that the story is not being told?
DONALD RUMSFELD: Oh my goodness, yes, of course I agree with it. It’s obvious.
JIM LEHRER: Where is it not being told?
DONALD RUMSFELD: One side of it is being told.
JIM LEHRER: What side?
DONALD RUMSFELD: The deaths, the people that are being killed.
JIM LEHRER: Are you saying that shouldn’t be told?
DONALD RUMSFELD: I didn’t say that.
JIM LEHRER: What are you saying?
DONALD RUMSFELD: I say tell the whole story. Why not some context?
And I’m not in your business. I don’t walk in your shoes. I don’t know how tough it is. It has to be tough, but all I know is that there are 150,000 troops over there who keep asking me, what in the world is going on; why is the impression in the United States so notably different than the facts on the ground that they see every single day?
It’s always quite humorous to watch the MSM talking heads attempt to get under Rummy’s skin, or get him to say something that can be construed as negative of the Administration or the war. Rumsfeld sends a flurry of jabs into their faces and then they get hit by an uppercut. They never knew what hit them.