Thursday, April 03, 2003

Poet of the Pentagon

Slate has picked up on the
poetic musings of Donald Rumsfeld, compiling a short compendium of his most recent works. They compare him favorably to William Carlos Williams in his "dedication to the fractured rhythms of the plainspoken vernacular," and note that his "gift for offhand, quotidian pronouncements is as entrancing as Frank O'Hara's." Some excerpts from his oeuvre:

The Unknown
As we know,
There are known knowns.
There are things we know we know.
We also know
There are known unknowns.
That is to say
We know there are some things
We do not know.
But there are also unknown unknowns,
The ones we don't know
We don't know.

--Feb. 12, 2002, Department of Defense news briefing

Glass Box
You know, it's the old glass box at the—
At the gas station,
Where you're using those little things
Trying to pick up the prize,
And you can't find it.

And it's all these arms are going down in there,
And so you keep dropping it
And picking it up again and moving it,

Some of you are probably too young to remember those—
Those glass boxes,

But they used to have them
At all the gas stations
When I was a kid.

--Dec. 6, 2001, Department of Defense news briefing

The Situation
Things will not be necessarily continuous.
The fact that they are something other than perfectly continuous
Ought not to be characterized as a pause.
There will be some things that people will see.
There will be some things that people won't see.
And life goes on.

--Oct. 12, 2001, Department of Defense news briefing

I think what you'll find,
I think what you'll find is,
Whatever it is we do substantively,
There will be near-perfect clarity
As to what it is.

And it will be known,
And it will be known to the Congress,
And it will be known to you,
Probably before we decide it,
But it will be known.

--Feb. 28, 2003, Department of Defense briefing

From The Use of Force
I know how to expose Iraq for inspection
And I did my best.
When finally I got the UN inside
Saddam opened up for an instant
But before I could see anything
He came down again
Splintering the probe with pages
Of useless documents
Aren't you ashamed? Powell yelled
Aren't you ashamed to act like that in front
Of Rumsfeld?


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