the blog of DC Drinking Liberally

July 3, 2006

The Manchurian Secretary


The right-wing blogosphere has whipped itself into yet another delusion-based, spittle-flecked frenzy, this time over a puff piece the New York Times published in its travel section Friday about the vacation homes of Don Rumsfeld and Dick Cheney. Glenn Greenwald has the details. It’s reminiscent of last year’s secret Islamic messages in the Flight 93 memorial, only scarier because it feeds into the extremist rhetoric the right has been increasingly using against journalists in general and the Times in particular — calling for treason prosecutions, life imprisonment, and even death. Now they’re actually saying the Times is working to help Al Qaida kill the secretary of defense and the vice president of the United States.

Today, Glenn follows up with a post titled “What is left of Malkin, Hinderaker and Horowitz’s credibility?” in which he reveals that Rumsfeld himself gave permission for the supposedly security-threatening photos to be taken. Presumably the next step is for Malkin et al. to claim that Rumsfeld has been subjected to advanced brainwashing techniques to get him to cooperate in a plot to kill himself.

Alas, the answer to Glenn’s question is that they still have just as much credibility as they ever did, but that won’t stop them from appearing on television.

Update (8:50pm): Yikes! The Times piece includes a bit of quaint history about Rumsfeld’s place:

The houses have names. Mr. Rumsfeld’s is Mount Misery and is just across Rolles Creek from a house called Mount Pleasant. On four acres, with four bathrooms, five bedrooms and five fireplaces, built in 1804, the Rumsfeld house is just barely visible at the end of a gravel drive.

Thomas M. Crouch, a broker at the Coldwell Banker office in town, says one legend attributes the name to the original owner, said to have been a sad and doleful Englishman. His merrier brother then built a house, and to put him on, Mr. Crouch supposes, named it Mount Pleasant.

But there is some historical gravity to the name, too. By 1833, Mount Misery’s owner was Edward Covey, a farmer notorious for breaking unruly slaves for other farmers. One who wouldn’t be broken was Frederick Douglass, then 16 and later the abolitionist orator. Covey assaulted him, so Douglass beat him up and escaped. Today, where the drive begins, Mount Misery seems a congenial place, with a white mailbox with newspaper delivery sleeves attached, a big American flag fluttering from a post by a split-rail fence and a tall, one-hole birdhouse of the sort made for bluebirds — although the lens in the hole suggests another function.

So Rumsfeld’s vacation house is the home of a 19th-century torturer — one who tortured Frederick Douglass? Rumsfeld isn’t responsible for former owners, of course, but it’s a bit, um, coincidental.

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DCDL is a blog by Washington, DC-area members of Drinking Liberally. Opinions expressed are the writers’, not those of Drinking Liberally, which provides no funding or other support for this blog.

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