Wednesday, June 30, 2021


Donald Rumsfeld is dead, and all of this is true:

If you're too young to remember: Yes, that last sentence is true. A lot of folks were crazy with lust for Rumsfeld.

And not just self-identified Republicans.
“Sixty-nine years old, and you’re America’s stud,” Tim Russert told Rumsfeld when he interviewed him on NBC‘s Meet the Press (1/20/02); Larry King informed him that “you now have this new image called sex symbol” (CNN‘s Larry King Live, 12/06/01). Fox News‘ Jim Angle (12/11/01) called him “a babe magnet for the 70-year-old set.”

“I love you, Donald,” Margaret Carlson announced on CNN‘s Capital Gang (12/23/01), where the Time magazine columnist appears regularly in the role of left-of-center pundit.
Though it was mostly Republicans who lost their minds.

In the past, [Midge] Decter (who is usually characterized, along with her husband, Norman Podhoretz, as a neocon but who might more accurately be called simply a con) has written often and gloomily about changes in sexual mores: liberated women, promiscuous women, and gay men all seemed to her to portend a rise in childish hedonism and a decline in moral fibre. But recently she began to sense a different, better sort of sexual change in the air: she noticed that Donald Rumsfeld had become a sex symbol....

In her [Rumsfeld biography], Decter concludes that Rumsfeld’s secret is “manliness” (italics hers), a quality that in her estimation has something to do with being a grandfather and something to do with prairies.... She blows him warm kisses (“He works standing up at a tall writing table, as if energy, or perhaps determination, might begin to leak away from too much sitting down”), and warmer ones (“this was the stuff—no other word would do—of glamour”), and even warmer ones (“Oh, Rumsfeld,” a friend coos, “I just love the man!”)....
This all happened a couple of years after George W. Bush was elected as a pious antidote to Bill Clinton's libidinousness, which, we were told, had disgusted all of America. But as is usually the case, when Republicans complain about something Democrats do, it's not because they object to it on principle -- it's because they want to be the ones doing it. After the first weeks of the Iraq War, Bush declared "Mission Accomplished" and Lisa Schiffren, a former speechwriter for Bush's father's vice president, Dan Quayle, wrote a fevered column for The Wall Street Journal declaring that there was a new stud in town.
I had the most astonishing thought last Thursday. After a long day of hauling the kids to playdates and ballet, I turned on the news. And there was the president, landing on the deck of the USS Abraham Lincoln, stepping out of a fighter jet in that amazing uniform, looking--how to put it?--really hot. Also presidential, of course. Not to mention credible as commander in chief. But mostly "hot," as in virile, sexy and powerful....

Alexandra, an unmarried event planner in her 30s, e-mailed: "Hot? SO HOT!!!!! THAT UNIFORM!" ... Suzi, who did her mom time and now writes biographies, also began with restraint. I asked, casually, what she thought about President Bush. She answered, carefully, "He's so confident. He is a very credible, trustworthy leader." "Yeah," I pursue, "but do you think he's sexy?" "Oh God, yes," she said. "I mean, that swagger. George Bush in a pair of jeans is a treat to watch."
Rumsfeld and Bush were seen as unlike Clinton -- traditionalist and faithful to their spouses. But the first year of the Iraq War was also the year that Republicans closed ranks around Arnold Schwarzenegger, who ran for governor of California in the recall election that deposed Democrat Gray Davis, and who was elected despite Clintonian sex scandals.

It infuriates Republicans that their men aren't seen as the most undisputably alpha of alphas, which explains why the aging, Donald Trump, seen through the GOP's rose-colored glasses, is a hot stud with the hottest of wives.

But it will never stop being bizarre that the old, nasty, preening, self-important Rumsfeld got this treatment.

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