May 2, 2011 / Leadership, Politics, Women's History

Not Just a Grumpy Old Man, But a Sexist: Donald Rumsfeld


The opinions expressed herein are those of the author, and not necessarily those of The New Agenda.

Donald Rumsfeld

Although not a big fan of Condoleezza Rice, I wanted to write a piece to congratulate her for speaking up against Donald Rumsfeld’s criticism of her abilities as a Secretary of State under the Bush Administration in a recent news article in Yahoo News.

Rumsfeld wrote in his book Known and Unknown that Ms. Rice “almost never wanted” to dissent to President George W. Bush. He also asserted in several interviews that Rice was not fit for the office.

In case you missed the past decade, Ms. Rice was the first African-American woman secretary of state, as well as the second African American after Colin Powell, and the second woman after Madeleine Albright.

Ms. Rice’s answer to Rumsfeld’s criticism was, “He doesn’t know what he’s talking about.” She added, “First of all, I didn’t have modest experience in management. Managing Stanford University is not so easy. But I don’t know what Don was trying to say, and it really doesn’t matter. Don can be a grumpy guy. We all know that.”

It is not unprecedented that African Americans are held to a different set of standards and their abilities, eligibility or qualifications are severely scrutinized as we have seen with the “Birther Conspiracy.” Being an African and a woman means you need to deal with a double dose of bigotry.

Condi was not any less qualified for the Secretary of State position than any others before her. At age 19, Rice was inducted into the honor society Phi Beta Kappa, and was awarded a B.A., cum laude, in political science by the University of Denver. While at the University of Denver she was a member of Alpha Chi Omega, Gamma Delta chapter. She obtained a master’s degree in political science from the University of Notre Dame in 1975.

She first worked in the State Department in 1977, during the Carter administration, as an intern in the Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs. In 1981, at the age of 26, she received her Ph.D. in political science from the Josef Korbel School of International Studies at the University of Denver. Her dissertation centered on military policy and politics in what was then the communist state of Czechoslovakia.

Of course her qualifications do not automatically give her a free license to screw up the country’s government but the mess Bush Administration created and left behind was not entirely her fault. I blame the entire cabinet and the President as the Commander in Chief. Especially when it comes to making the decision to wage wars on Afghanistan and Iraq, Dick Cheney and Donald Rumsfeld were the ones primarily advising the President.

Whatever the results of the Bush Administration, Mr. Rumsfeld’s actions towards a one-time colleague is garish and irresponsible, trying to divert attention from his own massive failures. Unfortunately, no matter how hard he tries to put the blame on someone else’s shoulders, he will still be remembered as one of the most inept and brutal Secretaries of Defense in our lifetime.

As I often do, I will end my article with a comment from one of the readers:

When the men from the Third Infantry Division rescued 173 starving prisoners from the Iraqi Interior Ministry, a reporter asked Peter Pace, Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, what troops should do if they see a human rights violation.

“Why, stop it, of course!”

Rumsfeld, standing next to him, said, “NO! You will NOT stop it. You will REPORT it!”

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