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Still out there writing in retirement, conservativeBrand’s first boss announced a $1 million plus contract today for the publication of Rumsfeld’s Rules. Word is that it’s going to be the ultimate “how-to” book on 50 years of managing politics, business and life. Back in 1966 (note the blurry newspaper photo above) I was lucky enough to be a rising junior at Mount Holyoke College with a job interning in Washington for my Illinois congressman, Donald Rumsfeld. Like me, he was a New Trier grad with a lot of his career ahead of him. What I remember most about that congressional office was, yes, the rules.

Every week each intern (we were six, all unpaid) had to spend five minutes in the congressman’s office telling him what we had learned that week. Well, it was the 1960s, and I spent a lot of time complaining to him that the four male law students got much more interesting duties than we two young women from MHC and Smith. Nevertheless, I still had to walk up the hill behind the Capitol every day and pick up his lunch: an American cheese sandwich and chocolate milk. Occasionally we got rides home to Georgetown with the congressman in his beater VW bug. He seemed ancient to us, 35 and married to his New Trier girlfriend – and with three little kids.

But the rule I never forgot was pretty mundane; it had to do with the hundreds of pages of reports we stapled together over that summer. We finished up pretty late one night and were heading out when Mr. Rumsfeld gave all of us interns a pretty sharp dressing down. Seems we had stapled all the reports horizontally in the upper left corner. That meant the pages would tear as the reader turned them over. Horrified, we had to begin again – copy and collate and staple hundreds of pages, but now with the staple placed at a slant across the corner. Is anyone surprised that Donald Rumsfeld had standards then, and (I’m guessing) still does? I, for one, never again stapled a piece of paper without thinking about it. Wonder if he’s going to use that Rule in the new book?

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