'People' Magazine Once Named Donald Rumsfeld in their 'Sexiest Man Alive' Issue
Ahh, Donald Rumsfeld. Former Secretary of Defense for Presidents George W. Bush and Gerald Ford, purveyor of the now generation-spanning Iraq War, apparent un-knower of known unknowns, and one of People magazine's Sexiest Men Alive?
Yep. On Tuesday, Rumsfeld, a highly contentious member of two separate presidential cabinets and passionate advocate for the invasion of Iraq in 2003, died at the age of 88 in his "his beloved Taos, New Mexico," according to a statement issued by his family. As fans and adversaries alike flocked to Twitter to pay their respects, saying “good riddance” to the newly departed warmonger, one of Rumsfeld's lesser-known accolades began to reemerge on social media – earning the title of People magazine's “Sexiest Cabinet Member” in their 2002 Sexiest Man Alive issue.
"CNN called him a ‘virtual rock star.’ FOX dubbed him a beltway ‘babe magnet.’ And The Wall Street Journal hailed 'the new hunk of home-front airtime. No, it’s not the next Brad Pitt. The guy causing the commotion is 70-year old grandfather of five, Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld,” begins the highly-cursed segment. "'Rumstud,' as President Bush refers to his frontman in the war on terror, with his worn brown shoes and rumpled gray suits, has put a new spin on Henry Kissinger’s maxim ‘Power is the ultimate aphrodisiac.’”
However, it seems the unnamed People reporter behind the article wasn't the only journalist desperate to get Rumsfeld's (WM)D. "With blunt talk and wry humor, Mr. Secretary has become the Pentagon’s very own must-see TV. ‘More than any other man in Washington,’ says Barbara Starr, CNN’s Pentagon correspondent, ‘Don Rumsfeld exercises absolute raw, ruthless power and enjoys it.' On the flip side, she adds, Rummy can be ’a big flirty pussycat.'” I need a shower after reading that.
Anyways, much to Starr's likely dismay, Rumsfeld was off the market. “Happily married to his high school sweetheart, Joyce, 70, the 5’10” bespectacled father of three has proven his mettle under pressure,” the write-up continues. "On 9/ 11, while most senior officers were running for cover, Rumsfeld was outside the Pentagon carrying stretchers until security forced him back inside. The ex-Navy pilot is ’an old-fashioned, ail-American he-man, plain and simple,' says Jennifer Harper, media columnist for The Washington Times. ‘He’s got that steady gaze, that strong jaw—a man you could trust if all hell were breaking loose. That’s pretty sexy stuff.’
Although People ultimately removed the page, the Way Back Machine has several archived copies of the since-deleted article, allowing you to gaze in shock and horror at the celebrity publication's evident thirst for the septuagenarian Bush administration official. Yet in what may be the only commonality between Rumsfeld and the other certifiably sexy men included in the notorious People segment, it seems the politician was wholly unavailable, only having eyes for his one true love – no, not his wife, Joyce, his deadly, ultra-expensive sugar baby, the Iraq War.
Throughout his career, apparent sex-pot Rumsfeld fiercely advocated for the war, often bungling facts to further his cause, according to Rolling Stone. He falsely told the public that the link between the terrorist group, Al Queda and Iraq was “accurate and not debatable.” He boasted that former Iraq president, Sadam Hussein had “amassed large, clandestine stockpiles of chemical weapons, including VX, sarin, and mustard gas," which countered inconclusive intelligence reports on the matter. In an attempt to further drum up support, Rumsfeld also reassured Americans that the war would be over in a matter of days. “Five days or five weeks or five months, but it certainly isn’t going to last any longer than that," he told CBS News in 2002.
Despite Rumsfeld's promises, that five-month conflict quickly turned into a 17-year war. Starting in March 2003, when an American-led coalition of nations stormed the Middle-Eastern nation, the Iraq War has now outlived its architect, raging on for almost two decades. According to some estimates, as many as 207,156 Iraqi civilians and tens of thousands of U.S. soldiers were killed in the conflict. Yet as several outlets have noted, the human cost of the Iraq War will forever remain unknown, due, in part, to “sexy” Rumsfeld's policy against collecting or releasing body counts.
''I don't do body counts,'' Rumsfeld once famously said. ''This country tried that in Vietnam, and it didn't work. And you've not heard me speculate on that at all, and you won't.''
Yet this is far from an isolated incident highlighting Rumsfeld's douchebaggery. After the U.S. military forced captured Baghdad, leading to widespread looting, Rumsfeld nonchalantly shrugged off the incident. “Stuff happens,” he said, quoting the reaction it seems many Americans had upon learning of his death.
So, folks here's to Donald Rumsfeld's legacy. May he be remembered as both People magazine's 2002 Sexiest Cabinet Member and mostly, a terrible, terrible politician with an evident disregard for human life. To quote The Atlantic's George Packer: “Rumsfeld was the worst secretary of defense in American history. Being newly dead shouldn’t spare him this distinction.”
Top Image: Gage Skidmore