Tuesday, 12 December 2006


What’s happening to me, folks? I’m almost beginning to miss the late ungreat US Defense Secretary, Donald Rumsfeld, whose manglings of the Anglo-American language produced some memorable verbal infelicities. Among the most treasured is:

"The message is that there are known knowns - there are things that we know that we know. There are known unknowns - that is to say, there are things that we now know we don't know. But there are also unknown unknowns - there are things we do not know we don't know. And each year we discover a few more of those unknown unknowns." Listen

This guy was a vintage barefoot philosopher! Trouble is, he was also one of the half-dozen most powerful men in the world, and has done untold damage through his mental confusions. If only he had stuck to understudying Bob Hope or Jack Benny, he might easily have ended up a greater comedian then either. But he was US Defense Secretary, and no laughing matter.

Nonetheless, anticant is celebrating Rummy’s departure by plastering some of his vintage sayings on the walls of the burrow loo. What follows is shameless plagiarising, purloined from a splendid quotes site, timble.me.uk, whose contributions to world gaiety are hereby gratefully acknowledged.


“This is diplomacy, and I don't do diplomacy" Listen

"I would not say that the future is necessarily less predictable than the past - I think the past was not predictable when it started." Listen

"What we are seeing is not the war in Iraq - what we are seeing are slices of the war in Iraq." Listen

Reporter: "Would the United States go to war without Great Britain?"
Rumsfeld: "Their situation is distinctive to their country and they have a government that deals with a Parliament in their way, distinctive way, and what will ultimately be decided is unclear as to their role, um, that is to say their role in the event a decision is made to use force..." Listen

"It's an enormous country - you know, it's bigger than Texas! Or as big, I guess - I haven't looked lately." Listen

"If I said yes, that would then suggest that that might be the only place where it might be done which would not be accurate ... necessarily accurate ... it might also not be inaccurate, but I mean ... I'm disinclined to mislead anyone." Listen

"I also know that stating what might be preferable, er, is simply stating what might be preferable." Listen

"The dumbest thing anyone could do would be to stand up here and start previewing things that somebody's thinking about or not thinking about or starting to disabuse you of each thing somebody tells you that we're thinking about, because then the first time we don't disabuse you, you'll say 'aha - that's what they're going to do!' " Listen to this soundbite as part of the Top Ten

"You know I'm not a lawyer - I don't do that!" Listen to this soundbite as part of the Top Ten

"If I know the answer I'll tell you the answer, and if I don't, I'll just respond, cleverly." Listen to this soundbite as part of the Top Ten

"I am shocked! ... Sort of." Listen to this soundbite as part of the Top Ten

"It's like, you know, stirring for troubled waters." Listen

"The statement I made is sound as a rock ... [laughter] ... I didn't say Iraq!" Listen

"We do have a saying in America: if you're in a hole, stop digging ..... erm, I'm not sure I should have said that." Listen

"For people to waste their time chasing that rabbit, only to run it down and find they've got the wrong rabbit, I think is a shame." Listen

"The construct I would suggest would be, um, what are the benefits - what are the advantages and disadvantages of not acting? And of course, the advantage of not acting - against the moon - would be that no-one could say that you acted. They would say, 'Isn't that good - you didn't do anything against the moon'. The other side of the coin of not acting against the moon, in the event that the moon posed a serious threat, would be that you then suffered a serious loss, and you're sorry after that's over. And in weighing the things, you would have to make a judgement ... or not ... do you think you are acting most responsibly by avoiding the threat that could be characterised - X numbers of people dying, innocent people, and it's that kind of a evaluation one would have to make." Listen

"If you went back and looked at the quote - requirements, you would find that there was a requirement to, er, if something was going to last so many days, there was a requirement to have so many dumb bombs, and so many smart bombs. And it turns out if you finish an exercise like Afghanistan, and you say 'oh my goodness, the requirement for dumb bombs was about ten times more than we thought we needed, and the requirement for smart bombs was, er, some multiple of what we actually thought we would need ... more - we needed more than we thought - then what you learn from that is that you learn to go back and change the quote requirement - and drop one and increase one." Listen

"Dim the lights!" Listen

"I normally would not come down in my vest, but they just ... redid me, and it's wet, so I can't put my coat on." Listen

"Were they Afghans, they could melt into the ... scenery..." Listen

"Uhhh ... incentivise a large number of people to begin crawling through those tunnels and caves looking for the bad folks." Listen

"This is fantastic - I've got a laser pointer! ... Holy mackerel ... ah man, that's terrific!" Listen

"The threats are real, and the lethality is multiples of what we have previously experienced." Listen

"Near my office is an American flag done in ... origami ... that's one of those words that I haven't mastered yet" Listen

"We do know of certain knowledge that he [Osama Bin Laden] is either in Afghanistan, or in some other country, or dead." Listen

"Well, um, something's neither good nor bad but thinking makes it so, I suppose - as Shakespeare said" Listen

"Will any single prisoner be treated humanely? You bet. Will they be restrained in a way so that they are less likely to be able to kill an American soldier? You bet. Is it inhumane to do that? No. Would it be stupid to do anything else? Yes." Listen

"Low density, high demand assets." Listen

"I believe what I said yesterday ... I don't know what I said, er, but I know what I think, and ... well, I assume it's what I said." Listen

"Oh goodness ... I shouldn't say 'I don't think so', although that's what I think." Listen


gingerwaster said...

No wonder Bush and Rumsfeld were such good mates - they must have long fireside chats in which no information is exchanged. Sort of like grunting over the nachos.

What about Cheney, though - has anyone tried to collate his ?

Anonymous said...

Piles of them, GingerOne.
I have posted a couple to whet the appetite.

gingerwaster said...


Looked - but OK, so he's a serial liar (not much new there) - but I couldn't find all the others - and at least, are his lies intelligent, unlike Bushy and Rummy ?

zola said...

Was there ever a "lie" told by a Foot?
What do you think?

trousers said...

The comments reminded me of a link which was posted up on Szwagier's site: http://www.superspyomatic.us/

Silly but entertaining - shame the source of the quotes on your post wasn't quite so harmless..

Anonymous said...

Sorry guys, as I said, to whet the appetite.
I found piles more - but many would not pass the 'young cousin' test I often apply

zola said...

Doth the plot thicken?

gingerwaster said...

Pity, it would be interesting to compare. Mind you, to be fair, you have to admit that considering the amount of impromptu speaking these politicos have to do, however tired, ratty or drunk they may be, it's not surprising they get their grammar in a twist from time to time.

zola said...

Did you mean knickers?

zola said...

Hope you did not mean me granmas knickers.
If you did then I would be jealous.

anticant said...

Really, Zola, I asked you not to chuck poo around my burrow, and now you are brandishing your granma's knickers in the air. That new medicine must be strong stuff!

gingerwaster said...

Yeah Zola

You oughta be most ashamed of yourself, misunderestimating the value of my contributions to anticant's thingy like you persist in continuing to do....

gingerwaster said...

Anticant, I have a suggestion to make...

Would it be possible to have a main thread that is an ongoing general discussion without a specific topic, so we can communicate with you and exchange ideas ? It's a bit awkward doing it inside a specific article.

You could also maybe let one reader publish an article themselves say once a week, to enrich the points of view - or have a special column for other writers, for example. No idea how to do this technically, as I'm not yet blog-minded, but just an idea.

anticant said...

Yes, Ginger, I'd welcome all of those. If you remember, I suggested an ongoing 'chat' thread on CiF to Georgina & Co. and as usual was loftily ignored. But I'm not technically clued up, either. This blogsite was beautifully easy to set up - only took a few minutes - but the fine tuning is a bit more difficult. I'll look into it over the next few days, and would welcome helpful advice from other Awkward Squadders. We need a Mr Fixit. Send for billstickers???

Georgina Pike said...

Are you sure that you actually believe in the possibility of open threads or is that purely a victim of your curious imagination. In any case, I don't believe in open threads - therefore there is no such thing.

Merkin said...

Is that what I think it is....?

Bishop of Southwark said...

Note that you have a connection to someone who can do dodgy ecclesiastical papers.
Can you do me a turn?
Always wanted to be the Bishop of Woolwich.

zola said...

Good morning Anticant : I am not sure what you said yesterday.
I felt immersed in suspected unknowns known or thought to be known.
But I was agreeable.

gingerwaster said...


Yes because without a central thread, where there is a current discussion going on as well as the opportunity to exercise one's native wit or lack of it, this is happening inside topics where a useful discussion could actually take place. The witticisms or poo then kill the debate - anyone new looking in from the outside is unlikely to join in the debate on the topic, if it's just an exchange of incestuous and incomprehensible repartee between the initiated.

Should be quite simple technically really - just start a new thread every day at the top called, I dunno, "Today's Burrow News" or something along those lines, then relegate it somewhere else in the evening. A discussion that develops overnight (like this one) can then be continued the following day in the new thread. It could also be a place to comment on fresh news items.

As for allowing a sort of tribune to others, perhaps by changing the presentation you could have different columns, rather than all topics lined up in a row.

anticant said...

Yes, Ginger, that's a great idea. And what better title than "I dunno"? It's been my lifelong catchphrase ever since I was a little boy, and I say it to myself several times a day. My mother used to retort: "But you DO know!" I didn't, though, and still don't. It will probably be the last thing I say with my last breath.....

zola said...

Fuck nose.
But that is better than wood-nose.
Ah ! dunno.

Gingerbits : you are a bit of a kill joy sometimes. So systematic!
Anticant : keep on rockin. I think you are making an impression now.

Merkin said...

If we are getting all official now I suppose I will have to become respectable and respectful
No more GrumpyAuntie, QuaintlyCrispy, AntiCrumpet or whatever.
Aaah, those were the days...
Meanwhile Rummy has made his last visit to Iraq.
Is this the beginning of the end or the end of the beginning?.

anticant said...

Thrice welcome, Georgina Pike! Are you by any chance related to the formidable Mrs Dutt-Pauker, celebrated Hampstead intellectual who used to inhabit the inimitable Peter Simple's "Way of the World" column in the 'Daily Telegraph'?

Do you believe in your own existence?

Merkin said...

'Fool, are you as stupid as you look?'
'Yes, Sir, I am as stupid as I look'