Required Reading

Our own Michael Ledeen on his first day at work for the late Secretary of State Al Haig:

Back in my cubbyhole I asked my keeper what “do something!” meant, and she said it usually meant writing a memo to him laying out the something I proposed to do. Then he approved it–or not–and then I did it.

Right. So I wrote a memo, she put it in the proper format, and sent it back down the hall. A few hours later his secretary called to say a) I had better get down there pronto, and b) he was really angry. A little heads-up.

In fact he was purple, pacing around with a cigarette in one hand (remember he’d just had a quadruple or quintuple bypass) and my memo in the other.

“WHAT” he snarled, “THE FOWL FILTH IS THIS?”

I confessed that it was my memo, sir.

“Number one,” he was now tearing it up, “DON’T WRITE MEMOS!!!.” The little pieces were now in the burn bag. “I didn’t bring you here to have you WRITE FOWLISH FILTHY MEMOS!”

Roger that.

And then probably the greatest orders anyone ever received: “When I tell you to do something, just go do it. If I don’t like it, you’ll hear from me. And if you don’t hear from me, keep doing it.”

Best boss I ever had.


Earlier (lost the link, sorry) Patrick Ruffini twittered a link to the text of Haig’s 1988 presidential primary run campaign literature. It’s solid stuff. Change a few names and places, and he’d be a credible candidate today.

Haig should have been a credible candidate in 1988, but his candidacy was really a non-starter. Why? Well, fairly or not, because of that mangled “I’m in charge here” on the day of the attempted assassination of President Reagan. That one line “set the narrative” on Haig — that he was prone to violent outbursts, unaware of the order of succession, power-mad, etc. None of those things were true, of course. Which mattered not one whit.

Many have run for President. 43 men have actually won the title. With odds like that, yes, one mangled public statement can eliminate a good person, even from consideration for the Oval Office.

But a President Haig, elected in 1988, might very well have served two terms. And American history might have been quite a bit different. Maybe even a tiny bit better.

Anyway, go read the rest of Ledeen’s article. It’s a good one.


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