Now, as part of his return to the private sector – he was named a visiting fellow at the Hoover Institution a few months ago – Rumsfeld is accepting speaking invitations, including a "special keynote and Q&A session" planned at the Network Centric Warfare (NCW) 2008 show in DC on January 23.
For those lucky few, a private lunch with Rumsfeld will be offered that day by invitation only (sponsored by L-3 Communications).
The appointment to Hoover, which is part of Stanford University, has led to student and faculty protests, and hence a PR problem for the school. Rumsfeld clearly has become something of a pariah with the general public at the moment.
But resurrection of a controversial person’s reputation is a tricky thing – Robert McNamara will be forever vilified for his association with the Vietnam War, while Henry Kissinger, another Vietnam War overseer, is generally feted as a distinguished foreign affairs advisor.
Rumsfeld’s reputation is looking a lot more McNamara than Kissinger right now, though within the defense community it’s a bit more nuanced than that of a mere war monger. He was a driver of the US military’s transformation into a more tech-savvy force, for example. But for the moment, his reputation is apparently at least good enough to get a free lunch at NCW ’08.