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Untidy Cuts Donald Rumsfeld Down to Size

Reported by Judy - June 15, 2005

The blogosphere is so vast and diverse that no one can hope to read all the good material being generated on a particular topic. Google "Donald Rumsfeld," for example, and you will have 2.5 million hits to sort through. Now Tom Sumner, an editor and former teacher, has come up with a way to cut the blogosphere down to size for people with limited time -- a series of books featuring the best blog entries on a topic. The first book in his "Informed Citizen Series" features blog comment on Rumsfeld.

Untidy: The Blogs on Rumsfeld is an encyclopedia of the best (or worst) of Rumsfeld as defense secretary. His convoluted statements (the "known unknowns" and "unknown unknowns"), his peculiar question and answer speaking style, and his non-responses to the various scandals of his administration (the missing explosives in Iraq, bad Iraqi intelligence, torture at Gitmo, etc.) are all chronicled in the brash, no-holds-barred style that characterizes much of the blog. The blog entries bring all these back to life like a recurring bad dream.

Sumner sets the stage with a brief overview of Rumsfeld’s biography and lowlights of his tenure as secretary of defense. The heart of the book, though, is the collection of entries on Rumsfeld culled from 17 blogs, including an entry each from News Hounds Chrish and Melanie. The well-written entries make the book an easy read.

Consider this Fafblog "interview" with Rumsfeld.

"FAFBLOG: Great to have you here Donald Rumsefeld! Lets get right to it an start by askin: what is with this torture thing, and how long have you known about it?

"DONALD RUMSFELD: Good gosh, that’s a tricky one there. Was it torture? Were detainees indefinitely held for days with bags over their heads? Yes. Were testicles electrocuted? You bet. Were orifices molested, flesh ripped by dogs, and nostrils raped? Almost certainly. But torture? Hard to say.

"FB: Wow--that IS hard to say."

Other entries carry a more serious tone. Lean Left, for example, makes the case that Rumsfeld could be considered an unindicted co-conspirator in connection with the development of Saddam Hussein's chemical weapons programs in the 1980s.

When I saw the blog roll on Untidy's front cover, I wondered how many of the blogs were still around. All but one - Baghdad Burning - are still in operation.

Besides making a case for the incompetence and corruption of Donald Rumsfeld, Untidy makes a larger point concerning the value and function of blogs in a democracy's marketplace of ideas. The blogs' uncensored writing and disregard of certain restraints of corporate media allow them to raise issues that would otherwise be ignored, and to do it in an engaging and lively way. Language like Fafblog's, for example, would wind up on the cutting room floor of more than a few newspaper editorial pages. And the evidence of Rumsfeld's role in Saddam Hussein's chemical weapons program laid out by Lean Left would automatically be classified as "old news" by many newspaper columnists and would never see the light of day.

Besides summarizing the bloggers' case against Rumsfeld as the worst secretary of defense in American history, Untidy makes the case for bloggers' long-term presence and influence on current events. A few generations from now, this is the book historians will want to read to get up to speed on who Rumsfeld was.

Published by William, James & Co., Untidy is available on its site for just $10 -- a real bargain for such a concise gem.

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