For some reason, I encountered several interesting articles about Donald Rumsfeld and came to be pretty impressed with the guy. I don’t mean his leadership style, or his decisions or anything like that. I mean personality-wise. He’s got a great bio: elected to the House of Representatives at age 29, worked his way through Washington for nearly two decades before departing for the private sector. There he turned around two companies that were failing, and by all accounts, he did so with panache.
My boss became interested in Rummy too. We started to trade bits and pieces of information we encountered here and there. I told him I had read somewhere that Rumsfeld kept a an old tape deck in his office and when working late, would throw in a cassette of patriotic marches and pick up some dumbbells and do a few sets, just to get the blood flowing. My boss saw an interview on TV conducted at Rumsfeld’s ranch in New Mexico. A lifelong friend, who was a successful businessman himself, said that Rummy has the energy of “five successful men.” Another article I read noted that Rumsfeld doesn’t sit at a desk, choosing instead to stand all day between two tall tables. Another noted his habit of frequently walking long distances to appointments in the capital, instead of hopping in his security vehicle – to the chagrin of his security detail. The man, while in his early 70s, would work 16 hour days, then routinely beat his subordinates at a squash game, then go home and spend his free time . . . writing a book for his wife about what a great person she is. I’m not making any of this up.
When I finally left active duty, at a small gathering of officers, my boss presented me with a nice plaque which read, “1st Lt Joshua Manchester: Like Rumsfeld, only smaller.” I thought this was hilarious (I am only 5′ 7″) and a great compliment.
13 Nov 2006