Comments: We Are Not Just Being Redundant; We Are Also Repeating Ourselves

Tarnation and land sakes alive, might could be that pseudo-folksiness of his creeping into that there statement? I'll be a dadblasted gizzard gobbler if it isn't.

The polls told him that most people don't understand the web very well, so he phrases things accordingly. The focus groups they use to vet his statements must have a wearying existence. Banality and phoniness in large doses can cause brain rot.

Posted by J. Alva Scruggs at March 21, 2006 03:28 AM

...history is not made up of daily headlines, blogs on Web sites or the latest sensational attack.

No. History is written by the victors. Shut up, Rummy.

BTW Jon, welcome back.

Posted by Cal at March 21, 2006 04:20 AM

J Alva:

The focus groups they use to vet his statements must have a wearying existence.

Must they? Or are all of Rumsfeld's actions in fact their fault? My own belief is Rumsfeld would prefer to speak honestly and modestly, but the damn focus groups forbid it. No one hates what he does more than him.


History is written by the victors.

I've always thought Victor Davis Hanson's problems stem from a misunderstanding of this maxim.

Posted by Jonathan Schwarz at March 21, 2006 06:57 AM

oh dude. i was so gonna go there, but you totally went there ahead of me!

Posted by almostinfamous at March 21, 2006 11:25 AM

If history is written by the winners, how come almost everything known about the Vietnam war was written by Americans?

Posted by Alexis S at March 21, 2006 11:48 AM

I mean, seriously, can anyone point me to a really good Vietnamese text?

Posted by Alexis S at March 21, 2006 11:49 AM

It's a highly annoying aphorism, Alexis. For "history" in the sense it's used, you can substitute any of the following:

Batshit crazy revisionism
Narcissistic preening
The screenplay for a Sylvester Stallone movie
An excuse to do the same cruel things over again

For a brief period in time, many people thought basing their actions on empirically determined negatives and positives was the way to go. They did their best to see to it that at aleast 15% of everything their governments did was inspired by some connection to cause and effect thinking. That's over now. The cretins have won.

Posted by J. Alva Scruggs at March 21, 2006 12:38 PM

Truong Nhu Tang's "Vietcong Memoir," Alexis.

Posted by Sully at March 21, 2006 03:23 PM

Perhaps Rumsfeld is one of those degenerate people who believe that the word "blog" refers to an individual "post" rather than to the entire blog. Yet another reason to hate the motherfucker.

Posted by Adam Kotsko at March 21, 2006 09:19 PM

Amen, Saheli. Actually, one of the things I most appreciate about this site is Jon's post about Kim Phuc-- formerly the naked, napalmed Vietnamese girl, now a goodwill ambassador for UNESCO.

God, how un-American is THAT?

Posted by Sully at March 21, 2006 09:49 PM

What puzzles me is why he didn't say "blogs on Web sites on the Internets." Doesn't he realize that his boss made "Internets" the official Administration term?

Posted by jonj at March 21, 2006 10:17 PM

You know what linguistic process I hate? This one:

GWB misspeaks something ridiculous.
Everyone makes fun of him.
We then ironically lace our speech with a mocking example of his usage: nuculear, misunderestimate, internets.
And then, eventually, it becomes used as genuine jokey, affectionate adult-baby-talk slang, much like Shnuggo or nappy-nap or even pasghetti.

It's pernicious! But I see/hear it happening all the time!

Posted by Saheli at March 22, 2006 01:25 AM

I'm sorry, but from the sound of it, Truong Nhu Tang's "Vietcong Memoir" would have about as much truth about the victors of the Vietnam war as an Alcibiades-written memoir about Athens. An ex-patriot flees the country and then proports to write an "honest" account? Please.

No, I am looking for a text written by a winner who was comfortable remaining on the winning side, please.

Yes, yes, I know that Athens was one of the losers. And that Thucydides, although Athenian, also wrote the only account of that war that we have. And that Thucydides is always the example used to prove that the winners write the history. Yada, yada, yada.

None of that changes the fact that history is written by whoever has access to writing materials and a printing press.

Posted by Alexis S at March 22, 2006 08:58 AM

Actually, I think Athens is a pretty interesting analog, because even though it lost the war in the short term military sense, it was so culturally and economically dominant that it remained the long-term capital and center of Greek life, and extended its cultural (and literary) domination through its student Alexander and eventually the Romans/Roman Catholics and later the Arab/Crusading interaction. I mean, did the Spartans even write books? Maybe they did, but we'd never know--they weren't bundled with Euclid and Plato and saved up by the Egyptians and Persians.

Posted by Saheli at March 22, 2006 11:18 AM

Generally, Alexis, winners tend not to be honest enough to describe why they're winners.

Posted by Sully at March 22, 2006 06:19 PM

Always keeping in mind, Saheli, that everything we have that was written about Greek culture was put through the Roman sieve.

But I still continue to argue against the axiom. I don't believe that history has been written by the winners. There are too many histories written by losers (the Greeks Plutarch and Polybius, the Athenian Thucydides, the Jewish Josephus, for example) who are living in, and placating, a winning culture. Modern historians live in every culture, winners and losers, some praising the states they live in and some damning the states they live in.

I believe, culturally, it is not the historians who cheat history, but the dramatists. Shakespeare, for instance, or Boris Pasternak, Tolstoy, Griffith, what have you.

Obviously, a pet rant of mine.

Posted by Alexis S at March 23, 2006 03:28 AM

Last I heard from Vietnam, they were begging for Western investments. Who really won?

Posted by sam at March 23, 2006 09:32 AM

Well Sam, since the US is the one still fighting.......

Posted by alexis S at March 23, 2006 11:38 AM

I think when there are no losers left to sit around and write their own histories, you know you've had a very destructive kind of war. Lots of Native American tribes. Cornish. Geats. Cretans. Vercingetorix. Like that.

Posted by Saheli at March 23, 2006 03:30 PM