As part of Mr NYC’s look back at presidential election years past, this one’s certainly interesting. It’s a creepy look at the things that would shape so much of the first decade of the 21st century.
It’s election night 1996. Bill Clinton has already won a second term as president – the first Democratic president re-elected since FDR. He’s just gone over the top of the needed 270 electoral votes and has defeated Senator Bob Dole.
Shortly thereafter, on CNN, Larry King and Bob Woodward interview Dole’s campaign chairman – one Donald Rumsfeld. Yes, that Donald Rumsfeld, Mr. Stuff Happens, the man who would later become Bush’s secretary of defense and totally mishandle the Iraq War from 2003-2006.
Obviously he had also totally mishandled Bob Dole’s presidential campaign in 1996.
What’s fascinating in this clip is to see what a scary and deluded fool Donald Rumsfeld was even back then. How out of touch with reality he was even before he became, as John McCain called him, one of the worst secretaries of defense in American history.
Here King and Woodward try to get Rumsfeld to reflect on why Bob Dole lost. After all, as you can see on the screen – it’s over! Clinton clearly has 275 electoral votes – he’s won! So you would think that Rumsfeld would be basically saying things like, “Well, it was a tough campaign, did the best we could, Bob Dole’s a great man, but the deck was just stacked against us and that’s why we lost.” You know, stuff like that. Nothing to be ashamed of.
He lies and prevaricates and shows that he’s totally disconnected from reality. He says things like “It’s not over” and “If he’s elected …” and “He intends to win!” You gotta watch this – it’s mind boggling how insane Rumsfeld was and clearly still is. His candidate had already lost but Rumsfeld keeps saying that he just might win.
Sound familiar? Reminds you of the Iraq war – we were clearly losing but he and Bush and Cheney kept saying that we were winning.
I know that spin is a part of politics but when you’ve clearly lost an election – or a war – you should stop and admit it. In 1996, he lied about Bob Dole’s political fate. In 2006, he lied about the fate of more than 3000 American soldiers. You can see just from this clip, Donald Rumsfeld’s deluded, dishonest, just totally bizarre way of thinking. What a horrible man
But wait – there’s more!
Later on, King and Woodward interview Roger Clinton, President Clinton’s brother, and they ask him if his sister-in-law, Hillary, has any plans to run for office. Roger says he doesn’t know but, obviously, he thinks she’d be great in elective office.
Well, of course we know how this story ended -- Hillary would move to New York and be elected our junior senator in 2000. She would run unsuccessfully for president in 2008 and is now President Obama’s secretary of state. She will be retiring from public office this year, bringing an amazing 20-year run of being a first lady, a senator, and now a secretary of state to a close. But in 1996, she was just getting started and the best from Hillary was yet to come.