Donald Rumsfeld Needs a Hug:
Donald Rumsfeld is a sad, sad man. How do we know? He said so yesterday at a Pentagon briefing, next to Chair of the Joint Chiefs, Gen. Richard Myers, in an attempt to get Santa to move him from the Naughty list to the Nice one: "I am truly saddened by the thought that anyone could have the impression that I or others here are doing anything other than working urgently to see that the lives of the fighting men and women are protected and are cared for in every way humanly possible." Poor Donald Rumsfeld. Having to bear the burden of the big ol' war on his arthritic shoulders. How could we? Are we not ashamed as Americans to want to beat up this old man?

Look at the picture of him. It doesn't look like he's eating right. His clothes fit him awkwardly. Look through the spectacles and see the recessing eyes of a man who deeply feels the pain of loss. Oh, sure, sure, one might criticize Rumsfeld for having used a machine to sign letters telling families that little Jesse and Janey ain't comin' home for Christmas, but when you are as sensitive a man as Rumsfeld, how could you handle that? Tears smear ink, you know. But Rumsfeld will sign them now, yes, yes, he will, because those thinning arms must support our demands, our whims, of a Secretary of Defense able to chill his heart so he can sign away life after life after life.

Rumsfeld doesn't know when it will end, he says. Not even after the much vaunted elections. He said, "I think looking for a peaceful Iraq after the elections would be a mistake." Oh, but Rumsfeld will be there, we know. He'll be there after the next Mosul. How it must hurt Rumsfeld to know that a suicide bomber can get inside so very easily. Or maybe he just sighs, sad in his terrible knowledge of what is inevitable. Poor, poor Rumsfeld. He needs a hug.

Maybe he can get one from Dick Myers, standing so loyally next to him, all pretty in his military uniform, bringing it all home by making the following bizarro statement: "This attack, of course, is the responsibility of insurgents, the same insurgents who attacked on 9/11." You may think that Myers is saying that poor Sunnis, afraid of Americans and the Shi'a, coordinated and committed the attacks on the World Trade Center and Pentagon. You may think that Myers is saying that the Saudi terrorists were actually Americans who were rising up against their very own government. But then you would think that you understand Dick, and really, can anyone make sense of what Myers said? Perhaps he's not the best candidate to give Rumsfeld a hug.

Maybe he can get one over at Walter Reed hospital, from an armless soldier, driven mad by his memories of a war about which he has to wonder, endlessly, why he fought, why he was there, why he had to leave those hugging arms behind.

Chances are Rumsfeld will have to go home and turn on video of the first month of war, a fire in the hearth, a cognac on the side table, embracing himself, trying to keep warm in the cold, lonely end of year darkness, hugging his body so hard, the sad man who so badly wanted the war.

Thomas Pynchon's epic, absurdist, great big "fuck you" of a novel, Gravity's Rainbow ends with a startling image: we, all of us, the readers of the very book we are holding, are seated in a movie theatre and we're waiting as a rocket, with a young man bound inside, is flying towards our cinema to destroy us all. The book concludes before that rocket completes its journey, but we know that the rocket will fall. It is the nature of gravity.

It's the way the Rude Pundit's been feeling lately, like we're all in this giant movie cineplex, and we're watching some shitty film, and the thing is, we know - hell, we knew from the previews, how the movie's gonna end. And we just keep checkin' our watches, wondering if we could please stop wasting our time and get to the ending already. But above our heads a rocket is at the peak of its arc. It must return to earth. What rises must, indeed, fall.