Life Is Strange (Donald Rumsfeld Dept.)

Consider Donald Rumsfeld.
   Age 30: elected to Congress
   Age 38: White House counselor, with Cabinet rank
   Age 40: US Representative to NATO
   Age 42: White House Chief of Staff
   Age 43: Secretary of Defense
   Age 67: Secretary of Defense again
                    and this is leaving out all the other stuff, of being twice a CEO, naval aviator, etc.
   Age 78: sending out Tweets like this, just now:

Adding the "500+" is a touch that would have seemed overdone in a satirical novel. There is no understanding people.

I suppose it's a blessing that James Madison, George Marshall, et al had no access to The Twitter. Come to think of it, Teddy Roosevelt and Douglas MacArthur are probably the ones whose Tweets we are luckiest to have been spared. Maybe the later-years Henry Ford too.

Update: Jeff Goldberg has offered a more striking illustration of the celebrity reality-distortion force field just now.

Update 2: In response to a fair number of querulous notes, let me clarify. The point here is not to make fun of Rumsfeld's achievements, which are quite extraordinary. (Even though, in real time, I deeply disagreed with his decisions and judgment about Iraq.) On the contrary: this is an astonishing record of sustained achievement and public service, whether or not you agree with his policy views. The "life is strange" point is that even such a person would send out a tweet with an audience head-count for a book event. And to spell that out further: the reminder to me is that almost no one is as secure in life achievements as other people would assume.

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James Fallows is a national correspondent for The Atlantic and has written for the magazine since the late 1970s. He has reported extensively from outside the United States and once worked as President Carter's chief speechwriter. His latest book is China Airborne. More

James Fallows is based in Washington as a national correspondent for The Atlantic. He has worked for the magazine for nearly 30 years and in that time has also lived in Seattle, Berkeley, Austin, Tokyo, Kuala Lumpur, Shanghai, and Beijing. He was raised in Redlands, California, received his undergraduate degree in American history and literature from Harvard, and received a graduate degree in economics from Oxford as a Rhodes scholar. In addition to working for The Atlantic, he has spent two years as chief White House speechwriter for Jimmy Carter, two years as the editor of US News & World Report, and six months as a program designer at Microsoft. He is an instrument-rated private pilot. He is also now the chair in U.S. media at the U.S. Studies Centre at the University of Sydney, in Australia.

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