Verbatim September 2004

Rumsfeld’s Rules Revisited

Shortly after Donald Rumsfeld was appointed Secretary of Defense, the Department of Defense Web site posted a list of "Rumsfeld's Rules" for "government, business and life." The rules, which the new Secretary had begun touting in the mid-1970s, while serving as chief of staff for President Gerald Ford, were frequently cited as a blueprint for Rumsfeld's managerial style.

Over the past few years Rumsfeld's Rules have drifted away from public attention. Below are a few that seem worth revisiting.

  • "Establish good relations between the departments of Defense and State, the National Security Council, CIA and the Office of Management and Budget."
  • "Don't divide the world into 'them' and 'us.' Avoid infatuation with or resentment of the press, the Congress, rivals, or opponents. Accept them as facts. They have their jobs and you have yours."
  • "Don't do or say things you would not like to see on the front page of the Washington Post."
  • "If you foul up, tell the president and correct it fast. Delay only compounds mistakes."
  • "Be able to resign. It will improve your value to the president and do wonders for your performance."
  • "Your performance depends on your people. Select the best, train them, and back them. When errors occur, give sharper guidance. If errors persist or if the fit feels wrong, help them move on."
  • "It is easier to get into something than to get out of it."
  • Presented by

    Ross Douthat is a former writer and editor at The Atlantic.

    How to Cook Spaghetti Squash (and Why)

    Cooking for yourself is one of the surest ways to eat well. Bestselling author Mark Bittman teaches James Hamblin the recipe that everyone is Googling.

    Join the Discussion

    After you comment, click Post. If you’re not already logged in you will be asked to log in or register.

    blog comments powered by Disqus

    Video

    How to Cook Spaghetti Squash (and Why)

    Cooking for yourself is one of the surest ways to eat well.

    Video

    Before Tinder, a Tree

    Looking for your soulmate? Write a letter to the "Bridegroom's Oak" in Germany.

    Video

    The Health Benefits of Going Outside

    People spend too much time indoors. One solution: ecotherapy.

    Video

    Where High Tech Meets the 1950s

    Why did Green Bank, West Virginia, ban wireless signals? For science.

    Video

    Yes, Quidditch Is Real

    How J.K. Rowling's magical sport spread from Hogwarts to college campuses

    Video

    Would You Live in a Treehouse?

    A treehouse can be an ideal office space, vacation rental, and way of reconnecting with your youth.

    More in Politics

    More back issues, Sept 1995 to present.

    Just In