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.