September 10th, 2007
03:46 PM ET
15 years ago

Rumsfeld on whether he misses Bush: 'No'

Bush announces Rumsfeld's resignation November 8, 2006, the day after the midterm elections.

WASHINGTON (CNN) – Donald Rumsfeld served as President Bush's Secretary of Defense for six years, but he told GQ magazine he doesn't miss his old boss and the two now rarely talk.

In an issue set to hit the newsstands on Sept. 25, Rumsfeld tells the magazine he still likes Bush but can't recall the last time he spoke with the president.

And asked directly if he misses the president, Rumsfeld told the Magazine, "Um, no."

But Rumsfeld offered Bush praise, and claimed that he is a victim of the media not giving him enough credit in a similar fashion that previous Republican presidents have had to endure.

"Just think, in my lifetime, the Republican presidential candidates: Dwight D. Eisenhower, considered to be a bumbler, bad syntax. Gerald Ford, the best athlete they had in decades, and they called him a stumblebum and demeaned him and made fun of him. Said he wasn't smart, which he was. He'd gone to Michigan, he'd gone to Yale Law School. I mean… And Ronald Reagan. You read his diaries now, and the man is remarkable - and yet he was dismissed as a movie actor and not very smart.”

Rumseld added, "So, I mean the fact that President Bush is demeaned is no different than Eisenhower or Ford or Reagan. And the fact that people believe that to be the case is not a surprise when they're told it day in, day out, by the, uh, eastern media."

Rumsfeld was also frank about his relationship with former Secretary of State Colin Powell, with whom he repeatedly butted heads.

"No! We're not close, never were," he said of Powell when asked if he missed the former secretary of state.

Rumsfeld, who officially resigned the day before the 2006 midterm elections (a move that was not announced until the day after), also said he likely would have stayed on at the Pentagon if Republicans held control of Congress. (Related: Rumsfeld's resignation letter)

"It was very clear in my mind that if the Democrats won the House or the Senate or both, that it made sense for met to…that it would be best for the department if someone else was there," he said.

- CNN Ticker Producer Alexander Mooney

Filed under: Donald Rumsfeld
soundoff (59 Responses)
  1. Sam, Lincoln, Nebraska

    If Rumsfeld has a point-and I truly believe that any person of average intelligence would agree that he doesn't-then only a deluded neocon or a complete idiot knows what it is.

    September 10, 2007 06:01 pm at 6:01 pm |
  2. Laura, Tulsa OK

    Its true ! It s true! Goerge Bush flew Air Force jets; his grades were higher than Sen John Kerry's at Yale. He's extremely intelligent, but like a lot of misunderstood people, doesn't flaunt it. And , all that is gold does not glitter. You don't have to use hundred dollar words to get your point across to the people.

    September 10, 2007 06:02 pm at 6:02 pm |
  3. Brendose, Oceanside CA

    Yeah, Bush's diary is going to be filled with pop-ups and crayons!! Give me a break! Anyways, who is listening to this guy anymore???

    September 10, 2007 06:03 pm at 6:03 pm |
  4. Vanderhook, LA, CA

    Outstanding, Jeremy! Unfortunate that it takes an Aussie to provide a dose of reality to all of you self-loathing and hand-wringing Americans. All blame, no game!

    September 10, 2007 06:24 pm at 6:24 pm |
  5. Simon, Long Beach, CA

    What Mr Rumsfield fails to realize that just by being a Republican makes them all stupid. Remember "If you've half a mind to vote Republican, don't worry that's all you need

    September 10, 2007 06:52 pm at 6:52 pm |
  6. MCD, San Francisco, CA

    O.K. Name one, just one, positive thing that Bush has done since he took office!! You can't! The man has done absolutely nothing good for this country. Why do you defend him? Go ahead and list his accomplishments. He was going to be "The Uniter" - his own words and he has done nothing but divide this country. His is a flawed and failed presidency, a failed administration, an unnessary and failed war!

    September 10, 2007 06:54 pm at 6:54 pm |
  7. Tom, Hattiesburg, MS

    Let me help out some of these commenters with reading comprehension problems.

    Rumsfeld's point in referencing past Republican presidents is how consistently they've been denigrated by the press while they were in office. That's why he mentions that Eisenhower was treated as a bumbler, that Ford was treated as clumsy and awkward, and that Reagan was treated as a dangerous imbecile in his own fantasy world. The point is not to equate Bush with any of them, but to suggest that those were false portraits of earlier presidents, and that perhaps Bush is also not being given enough credit.

    Nixon didn't really fit the analogy, since he was attacked more as evil and corruption personified than as stupid.

    Reagan is a great example of a president who was viciously attacked during the first six or so years of his presidency, until they realized the American people just weren't buying it. Then the attacks became less vicious, but more puzzled, as in, "Why aren't people listening more to us?"

    Bush is by no means the communicator that Reagan was, so it may be a few years before the rhetoric cools down and he gets the credit he's due.

    September 10, 2007 07:16 pm at 7:16 pm |
  8. Michael, New York

    JeremyT, which part of Tex- I mean, Australia are you?

    Oddly enough, the fifteen people I personally know living there all but laugh out loud whenever a discussion on current US government occurs.

    When they are not angry for the example for their own president, whose nickname is, apparently, "Shrub".

    As in, mini-bush.

    Cheerio on the failed propaganda piece.

    September 10, 2007 07:19 pm at 7:19 pm |
  9. John Kantor, St. Petersburg, FL

    Nothing like slanting the headlines. This is journalism? Just sick liberalism.

    September 10, 2007 07:31 pm at 7:31 pm |
  10. Tony, Enterprise, Alabama

    Grouping President Bush with the other Republican's he mentioned is an injustice, to the other Presidents.

    I am a Democrat, and no fan of Republicans in general. However, President Bush is well on his way to becoming the worst and most infamous leader the Republic has ever had; he is not good enough to shine the shoes of the other Presidents mentioned.

    Here is a news flash for former Secretary Rumsfeld, the country doesn't miss him any more than he misses President Bush.

    Now be gone you wicked evil man, before someone drops a house on you!

    September 10, 2007 07:41 pm at 7:41 pm |
  11. CJ Costa Mesa, CA

    Jeremy from Australia could've made a very strong point had we gone to war with Pakistan, Afghanistan (two countries known to harbor the masterminds behind the 9/11 attacks) or Saudi Arabia (the country most of the accused terrorists were from). Instead, we invaded a country that had nothing to do with the execution of the attack that took place on our soil, nor did it have WMDs. Every person who is outraged with our current administration for the deception and mishandling of the entire situation has just cause. Any one in their right mind can see that. It's too bad they'll all get away with it scott free. . . along with their Haliburton profits. Ech!

    September 10, 2007 07:43 pm at 7:43 pm |
  12. Jason, Austin Texas

    Right...I don't need the "eastern media" to tell me that Bush is an idiot; he shows me that every day by opening his mouth. Bush thinks he's going to "replenish the ol' coffers" when he's out of office on the lecture circuit, like President Clinton. He might be better served on the comedy circuit. I'd pay $10 to see him at the Laff Stop. He's a comedic genius! President? Not so much.

    September 10, 2007 07:52 pm at 7:52 pm |
  13. R. Thomas Payne, Cromwell CT

    General (President) Eisenhower would have fired "Rummy" and sent "Bushy" back to "Prep School" where he could intimidate his own kind instead of committing brave and courageous soldiers into combat, which he and the “Pork chop boy” VP avoided like the plague during Viet Nam. Because of his "youthful indiscretions", if he were not the son of a President/prominent family, he would still be in jail and never have been President and the country would have been much better off.

    September 10, 2007 09:06 pm at 9:06 pm |
  14. Tony Brooks, St. Louis, MO

    Now I'm no fan of the Bush clan, particularly our current DUMAS In Chief, but let's face the facts here. Old George must be pretty smart or the American people must be extremely dumb in order to elect this idiot AFTER he did such a horrible job during his first term. Then to let him do all of the things he has done with relative immunity...who is really dumb here. Maybe all of those who voted for this idiot are more stupid than even they realize.

    September 10, 2007 09:23 pm at 9:23 pm |
  15. Jim, Durham, NC

    Good riddence – one can only hope that you are held accountable for your mistakes and lined up against the wall with the rest of your co-conspirators.

    Nice to see that liberals are still against capital punishment.

    Unless you disagree with them.

    September 10, 2007 09:28 pm at 9:28 pm |
  16. Jack, Durham, NC

    First of all, I'm confident that he probably cannot read or write.

    Thanks, but we've already seen the Democratic campaign strategy several times; you don't need to remind us.

    September 10, 2007 09:29 pm at 9:29 pm |
  17. Coaster26, Everywhere, USA

    Thank you JeremyT, you are right. People wanted to have hell on earth for those who dared attack us, wanted to wipe them out of existence. At the time, people said Bush was the one to bring it. And now that it's here, they can't believe he's done it. Unfortunately, many or maybe even most, Americans are too easily influenced by television, and the Disney-fied version of revenge, where there isn't blood and death and orphans and disease. I have heard that Bush's verbal "fumbles" are an act, and I wouldn't be at all surprised.

    Perhaps the lesson that Americans will take away from this is to be careful for what you ask for, because you might not be strong enough to handle it.

    September 10, 2007 09:31 pm at 9:31 pm |
  18. Zack, Boston, MA

    Many conservative Republicans who love to bash liberals and Democrats do so in the most ignorant ways. The bashing would be tolerable if it weren't for the utter ignorance from which it is derived. Let's have a brief history lesson:

    Upon leaving office, President Eisenhower, a Republican, warned against what we have today: the military-industrial complex. The next president, John F. Kennedy, a Democrat, is responsible for implementing the largest post-WWII military buildup. The next president, Lyndon Johnson, a Democrat, pulled us considerably deeper into Viet Nam than JFK ever did. When he realized he messed it all up, he did something honorable: he decided not to run for re-election. The next president, Richard Nixon, a Republican, is responsible for the "cut-and-run" strategy for Viet Nam. We can all thank him for getting the US out of that war even if we have nothing else to thank him for.

    When the US fought the Gulf War, our whole country was rallied along with much of the rest of the world. It was a bipartisan effort, not a Republican effort. The same goes for the war in Yugoslavia and the war in Afghanistan.

    In the Clinton years, the defense budget was gradually reduced, but by no means drastically. These reduced budgets were drafted and approved year after year by the Republican-dominated Congress. This was the reasonable thing to do, considering that the Cold War, having been waged since 1947, was finally at an end. It wouldn't be large armed forces, but rather more agile armed forces that would be needed to fight the next generation of wars. When Rumsfeld took office in 2001, he agreed with that assessment.

    Now it may be difficult for some of you to whom this history lesson is directed, but try to connect the dots and realize you have absolutely no idea what you are talking about and that you'd make the world a better place by closing your mouth while opening your eyes and ears.

    The facts are these:

    1. While you accuse the liberals or Democrats of being the sole guilty party in drawing down the military, history shows you are wrong.

    2. Even if the military were only a "shell" of what it was in the Reagan years, it would still be indisputably the largest and most powerful in the world.

    3. The only president to execute the "awful" (gasp!) "cut-and-run" strategy was Nixon. In fact, he based his whole election campaign around it! On second thought, perhaps we could accuse Eisenhower of the "cut-and-run" strategy in dealing with the Korean War, right?

    4. General George Patton said it best: Americans love to fight. For the most part, that's right. Americans love a good fight, and when the fight is a just one you'll have no trouble getting the vast majority of Americans rallied, whether they're Democrats or Republicans, conservatives or liberals. It has to be the right thing to do, though. Part of being an American is to fight for what is right, not to fight just for the sake of fighting.

    Unfortunately for our entire country and for Iraq, Bush is continuing to have us fight in Iraq just for the sake of fighting. Most of the reasons that took us there and seemed to make the war a just one were lies and fabrications. This war is just like Viet Nam in the sense that we're still there only because we don't yet want to throw in the towel.

    There are many characters of this Bush administration that are responsible for those lies and fabrications. They knew the war would be UNjust, yet they led us and our allies into it anyway. For their actions, they are the only ones who are decidedly UNAmerican. Those that oppose the war in Iraq after realizing it is unjust are the real American patriots, and their patriotism can be doubted no more than the members of the armed forces who continue to fight.

    September 10, 2007 09:41 pm at 9:41 pm |
  19. David, Buffalo Grove, IL

    What happened was Bush. He has destroyed us. We will rise again some day, but we are down now.

    September 10, 2007 09:56 pm at 9:56 pm |

    to spinstopper, that is a funny thing because this is the army bush inherited from bill clinton.

    September 10, 2007 10:15 pm at 10:15 pm |
  21. Amy, Nebraska

    Jeremy! Nobody from Iraq has attacked our "soil"! The reasons for us attacking Iraq was completely misrepresented to everyone! If anyone spoke out against it at the beginning you were deemed unpatriotic and pretty much hung (metaphorically)! If you mean by blaming ourselves means the current administration, then YES! I blame them entirely. I have thought all along this was a war about cleaning up daddy Bush's mess. We should of been going after the true culprits of the attack, which isn't any 1 country, but a group of fundys! (And good luck on doing that!) And if you think GW is some great man, you truely are dillusional.

    September 10, 2007 10:18 pm at 10:18 pm |
  22. Terry, Southern, IN

    It is sad that an Australian can see far better than many "Americans" how things are. It is true that many of us Americans have becoming whiny little cowards who blame everyone but the guilty. Thank God there are a few of us who see the way things really our. (Including a friend in Australia.)

    September 10, 2007 10:28 pm at 10:28 pm |
  23. Paul, Columbus GA

    Maybe I'm in the minority – I liked Rumsfeld and I appreciate what President Bush is doing. Rumsfeld worked hard for this country. You may not have liked his tactics and you may not have liked his politics, but the guy did a great job. As far as the President goes...of course he made mistakes, but he is STILL the president. All this bantering and whining about politics gets nothing done. Shut the political and bitter rhetoric and work on getting things done. That includes all of the armchair politicians in this country. If you really want to make a diff, run for an office. Whiners!

    September 10, 2007 10:50 pm at 10:50 pm |
  24. Jim F Port St Lucie ,Florida

    Bush isn't being demeaned cause he is a republican. He is being demeaned because he is a Stumblebum.The man can barely carry on a coherent intelligent conversation.Every time he speaks in public he is an embarassment to the office he holds. He needs to look up some of the terms he uses because it is quite obvious,he does not converse intelligently,or even know what half the words used mean.That,my friends is true ignoprance!

    September 10, 2007 11:01 pm at 11:01 pm |
  25. Barney, Melbourne, Australia

    Well said, mate. These folks don't realise what they have got in a leader compared to other nations around the world.

    You Americans think so much about what the rest of the world's opinion of you is, only to lose sight of the fact that most of us follow your lead. It's been righteous for decades and I believe it still is.

    I;m thinking the liberal folks are becoming sheepish!

    September 11, 2007 01:06 am at 1:06 am |
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