RachelWatch: Rum Sour

Today: Donald Rumsfeld’s coworkers reminisce over the thoughtful cards and homemade soup he’d bring over when they were sick.

Donald, Duck

You know how sometimes a public figure seems like a complete jerkball, but people around them keep saying that when you really get to know that person as an individual human being you discover that he or she is a sensitive and beautiful participant in life’s great pageant?

Yeah, not so much the case with Donald Rumsfeld.

In the latest issue of GQ, former Bush administration officials who have had the pleasure of working with Donald Rumsfeld line up to describe the cha-cha heels they’ve already picked out for his grave.

After a stirring re-creation of the positive and productive Rumsfeldian workplace environment by The Rachel Maddow Show Players, Rachel welcomed investigative journalist Robert Draper, who wrote the article.

Draper noted that many of his sources are Bush loyalists who are angry at Rumsfeld for tarnishing Bush’s awesome shiny legacy. The who with the what now?

Takeaway lesson: If you’re going to use fake rationales to steamroll the country into a ruinous war and make corned beef hash of the Bill of Rights, at least be friendly to your staff while doing it.

Careful What You Wish For

Rachel noted that some Republicans have abandoned the “we never tortured anyone” argument in favor of the “OK, we did torture people, but don’t dig too hard or you’ll hit Nancy Pelosi” argument.

And then if you suggest that you want to investigate anybody who had a hand in authorizing torture regardless of political party, they clamp their hands over their ears and scream “
NancyPelosiNancyPelosiNancyPelosiNancyPelosi!”

Speaking of Nancy Pelosi, she and the CIA are having a spies said–she said argument over whether or not Pelosi was briefed on the government’s torture program.

The Republican media posturing flipout was, tragically, scheduled just a wee bit before all the information came in.

Ms. Information

Rachel reported that the passengers of US Air Flight 1549 are beginning to get their personal items back. Sort of. Turns out the less valuable items are easier to recover. I guess because we switched to those new floaty coins.

The passengers have also gotten an exciting new please-don’t-sue-us offer from US Air’s insurance company, which has recently been re-named Definitely Not AIG, So Please Stop With The Fake Pizza Orders.

Rachel also examined the surprising frequency of (unrelated) statue decapitations and wondered what happened to the unhappily detached noggins.

Don’t they just get sent to headquarters?

From the Office of the Vice President

Retired Army Colonel Lawrence Wilkerson, former chief of staff to Secretary of State Colin Powell, said that pressure from the Vice President’s office to torture enemy combatants was directed at finding links between Al-Qaeda and Iraq rather than to prevent further attacks.

Wilkerson’s story is supported by multiple sources, but he’s been catching heat all over the airwaves. Not the least from Liz Cheney, who frightens me more than Night of the Living Dead and The Haunting combined. At least nothing in those movies is going to have that creepy plastic smile on its face while it’s attacking.

I’ve noticed a disturbing (not Liz Cheney–level disturbing, but disturbing nonetheless) theme with this episode: Colonel Wilkerson said he didn’t think Bush knew about the torture program, and the former administration staffers who spoke to Robert Draper are worried about Donald Rumsfeld screwing up Bush’s legacy.

Are people trying to set up a defense for Bush based on the premise that the poor, muddled dear didn’t know anything? (And why should he have made it his business to know what people in his own administration were doing? Just judge him on what he was focusing on: Chummy nicknames and macho catchphrases.)

To hell with that. The guy ran for the office twice, saying over and over that he was the best Decider for the job. I don’t care if he’s secretly really nice or really naïve or even really dumb in person: If you campaigned for the top job in the country, you don’t get to use the babe-in-the-woods defense when the chips start falling.

GOP in Exile

Stephen “The Conservative One” Baldwin sang the first line of “Jive Talkin’” when he was asked about President Obama on Fox and Friends.

As uncomfortable as that is, we can thank him for the really good primer on making vaguely racist “funny” remarks on the air.

1. When the time comes to deny that you were being just the teeniest bit racist — and it will, and he will — you need to have a demonstrable other joke that you could have been making. There’s no joke here beyond the connection of the word “jive” and Obama’s race. Or did I miss the part where the President keeps prattling on about the Bee Gees?

2. If you’re going to claim that you just said it off the cuff, the remark can’t be as clearly planned as Baldwin’s was. Also, try not to have an expression on your face that says, “God, I am so delightful for doing this!”

3. If you’re going to think it out, think it out. Baldwin either didn’t bother to learn the second line of the song or chickened out of the possible consequences of singing “You’re telling me lies.” Don’t count on getting a huge laugh to get you out of that dilemma.

4. Consider asking yourself whether it would occur to you to make your endearingly puckish “joke” about a public figure of a different race in the same situation. Did you just hesitate? Give some more thought to that whole “delightful” thing.

How To Secede without Really Trying

Rachel reported that Governor Rick Perry (R – Texas) is now saying that he never advocated secession. He is also saying that there is no such thing as file footage, newspaper archives, or the Internet, so no need to look for those things, OK?

Wayne Slater of the Dallas Morning News dropped in to point out that, yes, talking about secession can fire up your base and make you feel like a great big studball who can’t be controlled, but it can also become a liability when you need people to stop howling with laughter long enough to vote for you in a national election.

Cocktail Moment

Rachel knows that there’s something about a train that’s magic. Especially when it contains Ana Marie Cox, Greta Van Susteren, and an over-the-counter medication that may cause drowsiness.

According to some cultures, Greta Van Susteren became at least partially responsible for Cox’s subsequent actions from the moment of Benadrylation.

In that case, Ms. Van Susteren, thanks for all the future win-filled guest segments with Ms. Cox. I hope you enjoy charmingly smutty humor as much as the rest of us do.

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