Donald Rumsfeld Walks Free Among Us. . . or Takes the Bus
On Thursday, February 26 I shared a bus stop with a major war criminal. Donald Rumsfeld was standing at my bus stop that morning as I waited to take my boy to school. I confronted him and couldn’t control my anger. I had seen him once before walk by (his arm was in a sling then and he looked positively wizened, but this time he was hale and nattily dressed) but had been too flabbergasted to react. I wanted to be ready with something to say the next time, and had prepared myself, but couldn’t stay on script past "You think you can show your face in public among decent people?". I became more vociferous and enraged the longer it went: mass murderer, traitor, torturer, rapist of children. . . . In fact, from my first words, when I saw Rumsfeld don an impenetrable smirk I consciously took the tack of yelling and loudly indicating his presence to everyone else; I wanted to enlist their help (Afterwards it reminded me of the scene in "Marathon Man" where Olivier is accosted on the street). Dismayingly my gentle fellow citizens didn’t intervene in any way, or were even outright hostile to me, although some people who witnessed the exchange from the bus comforted me afterwards, approvingly. Thankfully my kid was not overly disturbed, and seemed even cheerful after I explained that Rumsfeld is a wicked man who started a war, like Sauron or Saruman, but that he was not a danger to us.
I’m frankly not positive about the latter assertion.
Anyway, he did respond at a couple of points. One insidious tactic was to comment on my kid — I don’t remember his exact words, but it was something to the effect that he would be messed up by having such a crazy father (I believe he said, but am not sure, "That kid is going to have a rough life"). I took the bait and responded, "He has to learn the difference between good and evil." The other was a surprising statement, the inverse of the old defense "I vuz only taking orders", uttered in a tone of bemused incredulity you’d recognize from his press conferences: "But I didn’t order those things." I took that lie as an admission.
A Washington Post Style section snippet ("Reliable Source") wrote up the exchange as follows under the heading "Hey, Wasn’t That…":
Donald Rumsfeld having a less-than-friendly start to his day at a Dupont Circle bus stop. The former defense secretary was waiting for a long-delayed bus when a man in his late 30s with a young son got just inches from his face and started berating him over his handling of the war in Iraq — words like "warmonger," "rapist" and "evil man" were heard by others at the stop. Rumsfeld stood stoically, not responding, so the man turned to the rest of the crowd and yelled at them for not joining him in heaping abuse. Then the man’s bus arrived (Rumsfeld was waiting for a different one) and that was that.
This was inaccurate on a couple points — I don’t think the witness gave her account in bad faith necessarily, but she may not have heard anything other than my yelling (and profanity). Rumsfeld was, admittedly, stoic. I’m sure he’d show a lot of aplomb in the dock, where absence of conscience mimics a clean conscience. But he did respond, once in a particularly underhanded way, trying to drag my kid into the altercation, the next time making an assertion that may be newsworthy. Additionally, we were only face to face as I was near the door getting ready to board my bus (Until then I consciously kept my distance from him).
I’m not asking a lot. I don’t expect him necessarily to face justice. But I have a hard time sharing the bus stop with this monster, especially with my child, and we were there first. In the absence of justice, I’d like him behind tinted windows, keeping to his mansions and estates to enjoy his blood money where no one can see him. The bus stop is on Connecticut Avenue near the Hilton, between Leroy Place and Florida Avenue. Rumsfeld takes the 42 or 43 down town, to what kind of lobbying job I don’t want to contemplate.