Awaiting the Rumsfeld Doctrine

By Al Kamen
Friday, February 24, 2006

Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld has penciled in a visit next week to the Harry S. Truman library in Independence, Mo., to talk about President Bush 's war on terrorism and Truman's launching the long struggle against international communism.

The speech is still being worked on, so Pentagon folks won't talk about it. And they caution that the event may yet be scrubbed. But spokeswoman Hollen Wheeler allowed that the library would be an "appropriate venue for his message that day."

News that Rumsfeld would use Truman's library to compare the iconic Democrat's launching of NATO and the Marshall Plan with the Bush administration's policies is likely to spark howls of protest from some Truman fans. One official from the Truman administration called it "an insult to Truman's heritage."

Rep. Ike Skelton (D-Mo.), who knew Truman, put Rumsfeld's move to cloak Bush's efforts in Truman's mantle a bit more charitably: "Well, it's kind of a stretch," Skelton observed, "but God bless him for trying." (Skelton's busy preparing his own remarks at the library May 5, when he receives the Harry S. Truman public service award.)

On the other hand, as Rumsfeld, Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice and other Bush officials have reminded us, there are many parallels between today's situation in Iraq, for example, and post-World War II Germany. And then there's NATO, which Truman launched, and Bush's Coalition of the Willing. And both challenges involve long-term commitments.

Finally, "-isms" in general tend to be alike.

Duly Noted

Speaking of Rumsfeld, his former spokeswoman Torie Clarke , a communications guru and television talking head, is out with her new book counseling against excessive spinning: "Lipstick on a Pig."

But we detect a bit of spin when she modestly says in her introduction, "With the exception of scattered notes I took at the Pentagon on 9/11, I have never taken or saved notes at my many jobs."

Those are pretty significant notes, scattered though they may be. They are cited in the Sept. 11 commission's report when, hours after the planes struck, Rumsfeld said, according to the commission, "his instinct was to hit Saddam Hussein at the same time -- not only Bin Ladin."

Could be worth a lot of money someday, assuming they ever see the light of day.

Roll the B Footage

Buried in the Government Accountability Office's recent report on federal agencies' contracts with public relations firms is this little $10,000 item:

"Provide message development consultation and training for officials [of various Interior Department offices] and the Office of the Secretary of the Interior, including sessions targeting both verbal and nonverbal communication skills and message delivery training through interactive instruction and on-camera practice."


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