Watch Your Back, Rummy
ALEX CHADWICK, host:
And finally, more on Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld. Some news reports have characterized the group of retired generals calling for him to resign as a chorus. Brian Unger adds his voice in today's Unger Report.
BRIAN UNGER reporting:
According to a new Defense Department memorandum, there are thousands of active duty and retired generals alive today, so the six calling for Rumsfeld to step down are hardly a chorus, but merely a fraction of one percent.
The memo suggests listening to this vocal minority is like ignoring the four out of five dentists who recommend sugarless gum for their patients who chew gum and focusing only on the fifth dentist, who to this day lives in obscurity with no one knowing what he recommended for patients who chew gum. Did he know of something better, healthier than sugarless gum? The Pentagon's fifth-dentist defense marginalizes, if not discredits, critics whose slings in arrows indicate a lack of team spirit, a break from solidarity, a cultural sin, if nothing else. The fifth dentist defense distracts us from issues of competence and raises issues of propriety.
It's hard firing anyone these days. Fear of lawsuits alone usually forces managers to let bad eggs stay where they are, while everyone around them suffers. Whether it's in the making of widgets or in the making of war, at the end of the debate over competence, resignation is usually left to the individual.
So Mr. Rumsfeld, if you ignore the chorus of generals calling for your resignation and insist on leaving on your own terms, here are some signs it's time to go.
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UNGER: Secretary Rumsfeld, have they moved your cushy office in the Pentagon closer to the bathroom, and every time your office door opens, you get a waft of something that smells worse than your career? If so, you should resign. Has the name on your parking space been spray-painted to read visitor? When you swipe your security badge, is access denied? If so, it's time to go.
Mr. Rumsfeld, do you find yourself standing in the Pentagon cafeteria alone with a fruit cup and nowhere to sit? Has Conde stopped sharing her tapioca? No more invites to Happy Hour? If so, it may be time to step down. Has your copy of Jane's Military Review of Badass Guns and Cool Ammo been re-routed to the Deputy Secretary of Defense? Has your supply of Sharpies and White-Out gone dry? Has your top-secret code to the Xerox machine mysteriously been changed? If so, Mr. Rumsfeld, you might want to take a walk.
Do you find yourself left off CC lists, out of meetings and wondering if people are talking about you when you walk into the break room? It's a sign you should have left months ago. If you choose to ignore these signs, Mr. Rumsfeld, remember, just as in the war on tooth decay, eventually the public will learn what the fifth dentist knew that the other four didn't.
And that is today's Unger Report. I'm Brian Unger.
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