American Spectator Robert Bartley Dinner

U.S. Department of Defense Speeches, November 15, 2006 | Go to article overview

American Spectator Robert Bartley Dinner


As Delivered by Secretary of Defense, Mandarin Oriental Hotel, Washington, DC, Wednesday, November 15, 2006

Thank you very much. (Continued applause.) Thank you very much. (Continued applause.) My goodness. (Cheers, continued applause.) Thank you. (Continued applause.) Thank you, folks.

(Laughs, laughter.) Oh my. Thank you so very much. I appreciate that a great deal. It means a lot to me, and it's a delight to be here for this terrific evening and dinner. Father Rigdon and--Al, thank you for those words. I appreciate them. And thank you so much for your many contributions to the cause. You're always there. We know that, and we appreciate it.

Governor and Mrs. Romney, nice to see you here. I also want to thank you, Mitt, for taking the time to go to Iraq and visit the troops. It means a lot to them and to us that you are willing to do that. We appreciate it. (Applause.)

Al said change is hard and it is. People don't like to change, and big institutions particularly don't. And he mentioned that we broke some china. I guess that's right. It recalls to mind that wonderful fable about the man and the boy and the donkey. They're walking down the road, and the man says to the boy, "Get up on the donkey." People are pointing and saying why doesn't someone ride the donkey. So the boy got up on the donkey, and they went a little farther and people down the road said, "Isn't that terrible? The young boy's riding the donkey, and the poor old man's walking beside the donkey. And it's terrible." So the man said, "Well, okay, let's change places," and people would go down there and they'd criticize for that. So they both got on the donkey, they come to the bridge, the donkey can't handle it. He falls in the water and drowns. And the moral of the story is if you try to please everybody, you're going to lose your donkey. (Laughter, applause.)

We have a couple of terrific senators in the room. Lamar Alexander, it's good to see you, and--(applause). I met Lamar back in the Nixon administration, I think, in the 19--late '60s. He was working for Bryce Harlow down the hall. And Jeff Sessions who's here from Alabama is--(applause). Jeff's a member of the Armed Services Committee, and he is a superb member of the Armed Services Committee. He is consistently strong, courageous and supportive of the department and the troops, and we appreciate it, Jeff.

Joyce and I, when we go out to the--if we get down, we go out to Bethesda or Walter Reed and visit the troops, because they're an inspiration.

And the folks that are here tonight, we're--we appreciate your being here. We value your service. When you visit with their parents, some of whom are here also this evening, you can't help but come away feeling so encouraged and proud of this generation of young people and the support they get. (Applause.)

And a special thanks to our friend, that clear-headed, tough-minded Bob. But where in the dickens did you get that ridiculous photograph in that little red pamphlet? (Laughter.)

There's a picture of me in there, and it had to have been your first edition 40 years ago. (Laughter.)

(Chuckles.) But you know, I'm not--I listen to Bob sometimes, and I have no idea whether what he's saying is a compliment or not. (Laughter.) A few months ago, he wrote a column about a speech I'd given, and he titled it "The Rumsfeld Horripilation." Now, where I came from in Chicago, we don't talk like that. (Laughter.) And so we looked it up, and it talks about a "bristling of the hair on the skin from cold or fear." (Laughter.) Now, Lamar, you didn't know that. (Laughter.)

(Chuckles.) And I didn't know that. And I'll bet you there's a few others in here who didn't know that. (Laughter.)

But Bob, a special thanks to you for the work you've done to build this fine, influential magazine.

I looked at the first edition the other day, and the--they sent me the people who'd written in it, and Milton Friedman had a piece in there on the all--the case for the all-volunteer Army. …

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