So Long, Farewell, Auf Wiedersehen, Rumsfeld

On Friday, Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld heard praise from President Bush at a farewell ceremony.
On Friday, Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld heard praise from President Bush at a farewell ceremony. (By Lois Raimondo -- The Washington Post)
By Al Kamen
Monday, December 18, 2006

Outgoing Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld has been on the "farewell" circuit of late, going to see the troops in Iraq, saying goodbye to various folks at the Pentagon and around town.

On Friday we had the fine Pentagon parade featuring the Army fife and bugle something. (Marching with the Army you've got, not the Army you want.) Earlier this month, he did interviews with two news folks -- Laura Ingraham and, for balance, Cal Thomas.

Rumsfeld told Thomas he hadn't given much thought about what he'd do after today's departure. Thomas invited him over to his home theater -- complete with surround sound -- to watch a movie.

"I have not been in six years to the movies," Rumsfeld said.

"It'll be fun," Thomas said in the broadcast interview. "I got one for you that'd you'd really love. . . . It's called 'Akeelah and the Bee.' Starbucks is involved in it. It's about a little African American girl, 11 years old, growing up in Crenshaw in L.A. Her father's been killed by some hoodie. Her brother's about to become a hoodie. And they discover that she has this great gift of spelling. Laurence Fishburne is in it, Angela Bassett. She goes out and redeems everybody. I mean, this is about every value we care about. Hard work, overcoming, honesty, integrity. I'm sitting there, I'm bawling away. I'm cheering for the kid."

"It's A-K-E-E-L-A-H -- maybe," Thomas said, " 'and the Bee' as in 'spelling bee.' I guarantee you I'll give you your money back if you don't love this movie. You will absolutely love this. It's got everything. There's not a white guy -- the only white guy in it is the principal of the school. Everybody else is minority, everybody else gets along."

"Did you like 'The Sound of Music'?" Rumsfeld asked.

"Of course I liked 'The Sound of Music,' " Thomas said.

"Well, so did I," Rumsfeld said. "People laugh at that."

"Well, I want to [tell] you something," Thomas said. "I stalked Julie Andrews for 40 years before I finally got her."

"Is that right?"

"On our shelf, a picture of us having tea together in New York," Thomas said.

CONTINUED     1        >

© 2006 The Washington Post Company