Saturday, September 23, 2006

Front Page News at the New York Times

On the front page of the NYT website right now, they're running a fawning love letter to Donald Rumsfeld by David Cloud. This hard hitting journalism is headlined "Rumsfeld Also Plays Hardball on Squash Courts."

You can't make this stuff up. Reports the intrepid Cloud:

In some ways, squash offers a window into Mr. Rumsfeld’s complicated psyche, revealing much about his stubborn competitiveness and seemingly limitless stamina. Pentagon officials and employees say Mr. Rumsfeld’s play closely resembles the way he has run the Defense Department, where he has spent six years trying to break the accepted modes of operating.
And this:

On the court, “he is very aggressive and he is very intense,’’ Mr. Di Rita said.“He is very good at getting inside your head. He’s everything you would expectDonald Rumsfeld to be.”
And in case you were looking for it, here's the bit they threw in by way of an excuse to put this drivel on the front page of the most valuable newspaper real estate in the entire world:

Mr. Rumsfeld himself has suggested that his ideas about transforming the military into a smaller, more agile force, like the one he pushed for in invading Iraq, were influenced by his squash playing.

In an interview with the military writer Thomas P. M. Barnett last year, Mr. Rumsfeld said, “I play squash with him,” gesturing at Mr. Di Rita. “When I pass him in a shot and it’s a well-played hard shot, I saw [sic] speed kills. And it does. If you can do something very fast you can get your job done and save a lot of lives.”

I'd make a joke about what a crap squash player he must be if military ideas were influenced by his game, but it's obviously just a cheap laugh line the reporter wrote into the article, not even a recent quote.

So what's an article like this doing on the front page of the NYT at the height of election season, with one war raging in the background and another one possibly in the works? I don't know, but this line makes it sound like Cloud thinks this Elizabeth Bumiller-style portrait is the price to pay for lining up a squash date with Rumsfeld: "Mr. Rumsfeld has declined invitations to play against reporters, as well as to describe his game for this article."

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