While discussing his new book, Conservatives without Conscience, on Firedoglake's Book Salon, John Dean, who first gained fame as the most honest man in the Nixon White House (which admittedly is a little like being the best ice skater in the Sahara), reminisced about the role of a young Donald Rumsfeld in the administration of Yorba Linda's favorite son (and current leading roadside attraction). Long before he became the guiding light of our adventure in Iraq, Rummy was already showing signs of what he would become. (Note: the quote contains a typo. Dean accidently inserted an extra “m” into “slimy”, turning it into “slimmy”, and making Rummy sound like a Weight Watchers champion, instead of, well, Rummy.)
Rumsfeld came to the Nixon White House in 1970 some five months after I arrived. At the time, I asked White House chief of staff Bob Haldeman what Rummy was going to be doing. “Nothing,” Haldeman told me, explaining that they were placing him on the White House staff (giving him a sinecure) to bolster his chances to win a Senate race in IL.
In time, Haldeman — not to mention — Nixon came to distrust Rumsfeld. Many thought Nixon appointed him Ambassador to NATO as a promotion. In fact, they wanted to get him out of the White House. Haldeman called Rumsfeld “slimmy” in his contemporaneous diaries, and Nixon is heard on his tapes discussing Rumsfeld in less than flattering terms.
Most ironic, given Rumsfeld's current position on Iraq, Rumsfeld argued that Nixon should get the hell out of Vietnam. Rummy was a cut and run guy back then.
Even though Rumsfeld may have a different opinion of the wisdom of withdrawal these days, I think it's safe to say that he's done nothing to earn that extra “m” Dean gave him, and remains exactly what Haldeman, who was more careful about counting “m”s, called him.