Rumsfeld rules

The secretary of defense out-Cheneys the vice president.

Published August 29, 2006 7:09PM (EDT)

Proving that he can still show Dick Cheney a thing or two, Donald Rumsfeld offered up what Matt Yglesias calls the "full wingnut monte" in a speech before the American Legion today.

Among the secretary's insights:

The war president: "We are truly fortunate to have a leader of resolve at a time of war. Through all the challenges, he remains the same man who stood atop the rubble of lower Manhattan, with a bullhorn, vowing to fight back."

The big questions: "We need to face the following questions: With the growing lethality and availability of weapons, can we truly afford to believe that somehow vicious extremists can be appeased? Can we really continue to think that free countries can negotiate a separate peace with terrorists? Can we truly afford the luxury of pretending that the threats today are simply 'law enforcement' problems, rather than fundamentally different threats, requiring fundamentally different approaches? And can we truly afford to return to the destructive view that America -- not the enemy -- is the real source of the worlds trouble?"

The straw-man arguments: "The struggle we are in is too important -- the consequences too severe -- to have the luxury of returning to the old mentality of 'Blame America First.'"

And finally, the let's-forget-that-whole-civil-war-thing finale: "In Iraq, a country that was brutalized and traumatized by a cruel and dangerous dictatorship is now undertaking the slow, difficult, and uncertain steps to secure a new future, under a representative government -- one that is at peace with its neighbors, rather than a threat to their own people, their neighbors, and to the world."

By Tim Grieve

Tim Grieve is a senior writer and the author of Salon's War Room blog.

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Dick Cheney Donald Rumsfeld Iraq Middle East War Room