Brad Graham has a book out Tuesday on Donald Rumsfeld titled, By His Own Rules: The Story of Donald Rumsfeld. In an excerpt from the book in this week's Time, Rumsfeld blames the liberal media for cultivating his poor image.
Rumsfeld has ascribed much of the negative perception of him and the Bush administration to distorted media coverage. "The intellectual dishonesty on the part of the press is serious," he asserted. He groused about "a strong incentive to be negative and dramatic" that had infused much of the coverage. "It's a formula that works. It gets Pulitzers; it gets promotions; it gets name identification on the front page above the fold."
Part of the formula, Rumsfeld added, involved pillorying him along with Bush and Cheney but sparing Powell and Rice. As an example, he noted accusations that Bush and Cheney had lied about Saddam Hussein's possession of weapons of mass destruction in making the case for the invasion of Iraq. "They never say Colin Powell lied," Rumsfeld asserted. "They don't say Condi lied."
Graham also notes that Rumsfeld was so eager to prove that he wasn't the ass everyone thinks he is, that he showed off all sorts of letters from people telling him how great he was, also noting how people treated him like a rock star when he goes out in public.
Rumsfeld wanted to be sure I saw the many letters of praise and kind words he had received following the announcement of his resignation. He had sorted the letters according to source - members of Congress, foreign dignitaries, U.S. military personnel, former associates, friends - and filed them in large, three-ring binders. The correspondence noted Rumsfeld's contributions to the war on terrorism, commended him for his drive to transform the U.S. military, and expressed thanks for his public service.
Such letters seemed to give Rumsfeld some solace amid media commentary that tended to focus on all that had gone wrong - the mistakes made in the Iraq War, the difficult relations with the military chiefs, the tensions with Congress, the quarrels with other NSC members. As low as his popularity was when he left office - Gallup/Harris polls showed him at 34% - Rumsfeld still found that when he dined out at a restaurant or walked along a street, people approached him eager to shake his hand.
Unfortunately, Graham doesn't provide any names of people who wrote letters commending Rumsfeld, but we guess that among them were the names Limbaugh, Bachmann, Cheney and Hannity. Too easy, right?