Wednesday, March 28, 2007

Birds of a Feather: Rumsfeld and Fred Rutherford

On the old show Leave It To Beaver, we get to meet only one of Ward Cleaver's co-workers, Fred Rutherford. Fred is very competitive with Ward -- always snooping around his desk and trying to get ahead, pointing out how his son (Lumpy) is so much better than Ward's sons (especially Wally).

Ward is not so fond of Fred. Fred is all about office politics and ego; Ward, more serious, just wants to get the job done.

Now, and I promise you I have a point, consider this paragraph from a New York Times Book Review last Sunday:
After the 1988 presidential election, Donald Rumsfeld sent George H. W. Bush a congratulatory letter. In it, Rumsfeld, who had antagonized Bush during the Ford administration, wrote that he would “like to be your ambassador to Japan.” It was quite a comedown for Rumsfeld, who had harbored presidential ambitions of his own. But a person on the Bush transition team responsible for handling such requests noticed that Rumsfeld’s letter had already been reviewed, and that scrawled across it in capital letters was a fatal verdict: “No! This will never happen!! G. B.”

Rumsfeld, as Andrew Cockburn shows in his perceptive and engrossing biography, got his revenge over a decade later when president-elect George W. Bush invited him to his temporary headquarters in Washington’s Madison Hotel. Bush knew that his father hated Rumsfeld, which served as a kind of recommendation, and Rumsfeld, who was well aware of the contentious relations between the two Bushes, played to the younger man’s insecurity, reassuring him that he was eminently suited to be president. “In return,” Cockburn writes, “Bush could give what Rumsfeld customarily exacted from close associates: loyalty and obedience.”

Here's the full book review.

Can you imagine Wally Cleaver, years later and as CEO of, say, Mayfield Electric, hiring the hated Fred Rutherford as one of his key advisors?

That would be kind of fucked up, right?

Here and here are two earlier posts that look at this daddy-son relationship involving Bush the Greater and Bush the Lesser.

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