In [Woodward's] first installment, Bush at War, published in 2002, the defense secretary is a hero of Sept. 11 and the triumphant commander of our victory in Afghanistan.In the second Woodward book, Plan of Attack (2004):
As portrayed in B1, Rummy is a seer ("... Rumsfeld had clearly anticipated that the United States was going to be surprised by some attack, perhaps something along the lines of September 11 … ") and a tower of strength (he "left no doubt in Bush's mind that when the moment came, as it surely would that the United States was threatened, he, as secretary of defense, would be coming to the president to unleash the military").
... If he is sometimes brusque with subordinates, it's because "Rumsfeld didn't like muddling along. He didn't like imprecision," as Woodward writes.
... Rumsfeld retains the sourcely aura, though it's dimming slightly with the failure to recover any WMD in occupied Iraq.Now, in the most recent book, State of Denial:
He still has that "boyish intensity" — Woodward never lets go of an epithet once he's bothered to work it out — but these days he is "cocky" and arrogant, a man whose "micromanaging was almost comic."But this is the best analysis I have seen yet of Woodward's trio of Bushies-centered books. Weisberg observes:
The story begins with him burying everyone at the Pentagon up to their eyeballs in "snowflakes," unsigned notes that are "an annoyance," "intrusive," and "petty."
B3 Rumsfeld is on a perpetual power-trip, dressing down underlings for the sheer, sadistic pleasure of it. .... Soon after taking office in 2001, he sabotages Vernon Clark, Bush's preferred candidate to run the Joint Chiefs of Staff because Rumsfeld wants a flunky and Clark recognizes the job's statutory obligation to give the president independent advice. Rummy shivs him by telling Bush and Cheney that Clark prefers to stay with the Navy, which isn't true.
By the end of the book, Woodward himself is confronting Rumsfeld over his unwillingness to admit the Iraqi insurgency is growing and that his decisions have cost many lives.
One thing more Woodward might say, if he wanted to acknowledge reality himself, is that he has changed his mind about Rumsfeld without Rumsfeld changing one iota.Hey, that's almost as improbable as our president reading an existential novel like The Stranger.
Love him or hate him, Rummy is the Rock of Gibraltar. He will experience personal growth when Dick Cheney turns vegan.