Rumsfeld’s Own Private Idahoan

In his speech Tuesday to the American Legion convention in Salt Lake City, Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld said that in America “many have still not learned history’s lessons”, saying that those who opposed or have come to belatedly oppose the Bush administration’s stupid war in Iraq are appeasers who don’t understand the imminent threat of “a new type of fascism”. He invoked a quote as an example of the the kind of thinking he abhors. He didn’t attribute the quote to anyone other than “one U.S. Senator” who — upon hearing that Germany had invaded Poland in 1939 — responded: “Lord, if only I could have talked with Hitler, all this might have been avoided.”

It’s possible that Rumsfeld didn’t mention who said that — although you have to wonder why he brought it up at all — because the senator in question was William Borah, of Idaho. Borah served as a senator for nearly 33 years. During that time, he vehemently opposed the formation of the League of Nations (about which Rumsfeld waxed — well — not so eloquent), had a love child with the married daughter of President Teddy Roosevelt, participated in exposing the scandals of the Harding administration, and coordinated with Sen. Robert Taft of Ohio in isolationist opposition to Franklin Roosevelt’s attempts to aid America’s European allies. As you’ve probably guessed by now, Borah was a Republican — considered to be a progressive Republican — but a Republican nonetheless.

I’m going to hazard a guess here, but I suspect that Mr. Henny Penny’s source for this quote was Charles “Chuckie” Krauthammer who — in an article excoriating Ned Lamont’s win in Connecticut earlier this month — used the quote and attributed it to Borah, but also didn’t mention Borah’s party affiliation.