Donald Rumsfeld shares life lessons in new book

This is a rush transcript from "Hannity," May 27, 2013. This copy may not be in its final form and may be updated.

SEAN HANNITY, HOST: And welcome to this special edition of "Hannity." Now, he was both the youngest and the oldest secretary of defense serving first under President Gerald Ford, later under President George W. Bush. And if that is not enough for the resume, he also served as White House chief of staff and spent seven years in Congress.

Now he's the author of a brand new book, "Rumsfeld's Rules: Leadership Lessons in Business, Politics, War, and Life." And tonight for the entire hour, he will be here. And joining us now with the special studio audience, former Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld. How are you?



HANNITY: All right. I think it would have been better as "Rummy's Rules." Right?


HANNITY: You know, I read the book and I really enjoyed it. One of the best things I got out of the book is it kind of described my life. You have to be willing to start at the bottom. I was a paper boy, a dishwasher, a bus boy, a waiter, a bartender, I painted, hung paper, you know, house roofing and framing.

RUMSFELD: You didn't clean rugs like I did.

HANNITY: No, I didn't do that.

RUMSFELD: Or mop the dress shop in town.

HANNITY: Everybody, why the young kids want to start today at the top. How is that?

RUMSFELD: I don't know. But I tell you, you learn a lot doing all those things and you learn from the people you work with.

HANNITY: Yes. And then when you get into a position like you had where you are managing an entire department in government, it probably helps that when you see the people that are working hard every day and starting out, but you remember where you came from.

RUMSFELD: Indeed, you have to. And I did. And it was one of the wonderful things about it because you have had some of the similar experiences. Of course, I also served in the Navy, so when I was at the Pentagon, my father was in the Navy before me. So I had that background as well, which is a help.

HANNITY: But the reason you say start at the bottom is it gives you humility. Now, except for some people rise through the ranks of television talk show hosts, I can name names, they are not humble in their real life at all. What?


It's not an autobiography here, OK? But it really, humility is a great trait to have in a leader and starting at the bottom gets you there.

RUMSFELD: It does. And having done what you are asking others to do helps.

HANNITY: Yes. All right. One of the things I was so glad, Rummy's Rules, I'm saying Rummy's, I'm shortening the title -- I hate meetings. I find most meetings are long, unnecessary, a waste of time, and you say if you even need to have one how to run a meeting.

RUMSFELD: The first question is to decide whether you really need one.


RUMSFELD: Meetings can be really enormously important because you can get everyone in the room working off the same set of facts and communicate to everyone at the same time. But so many people find meetings wasteful at times. They start late, they go too long, people repeat things and aren't prepared. You don't have a good agenda, they don't summarize at the end. And a good meeting is a good meeting and it's important but there are so many that aren't.

HANNITY: And there is so much technology., you could use that and HD faces, you got to look at everybody, collaborate, boom, you're on your way and you still, you know, you didn't have to make the long trip.

Another rule that you have is picking the right people. Now, there are some insecure people that never want to pick strong personalities around them. One of the reasons I would argue for any successes I have is I got great people around me. Some are even smarter than me.


HANNITY: All right. Thanks a lot.


All right. That's the hour. Thank you very much for joining us.

RUMSFELD: No, it's true, As hire As and Bs hire Cs. And one of the most important things you can do is when you are coming up find some As and try to be around them and the people that are around them and learn from them because they sparkle.

HANNITY: Yes. They give you ideas.

RUMSFELD: Exactly.

HANNITY: Jumpstart of thought. And you know, if the program is "Hannity" and we have, somebody gave me an idea, I get credit for it, whether I deserved it or not. You know, I love Sun Tzu, the art of war, I'm sure you probably have it memorized. But one of the things you -- people don't think strategically. That's one of your rules. Be strategic in the things that you are doing. Why aren't people more strategic in the way they go about their lives?

RUMSFELD: Well, first of all, it's hard. To be strategic, you got to decide what is more important than everything else and be willing to plant the standard way out there and say, that's where we are going. I mean, think of President Ronald Reagan when he was asked his policy on the Soviet Union, and he said we win, they lose.

HANNITY: That's strategic.

RUMSFELD: My goodness, is it strategic. Everyone in the administration then knew that that's kind of where they were going. And indeed, that is where he took them. God bless him for it.

HANNITY: And God bless him. In many ways, and maybe this is -- and we will get into Benghazi and we will get into Libya and we'll get into the IRS in a few minutes with you, but I think when the president refuses to acknowledge a truth that Libya was a terror attack and tell the American people the truth or Fort Hood, the official government line to this day is that Fort Hood, Major Hassan screaming Allahu Akbar and killing innocent people, was an instance not of terror but workplace violence. So, if strategically you make a decision that you can't acknowledge the truth, you're never going to be able to solve a problem.

RUMSFELD: Well, that's true. And we are suffering from that today. There's no question about it. People are so afraid of being seen as against a religion that they are unwilling to talk about radical Islamism and the fact that there are people in this world, not a majority, not a majority of Muslims, a small minority that are determined to wipe out --

HANNITY: It's a pretty large majority. A pretty large percentage.

RUMSFELD: Percentage, but not a majority.

HANNITY: Not a majority.


HANNITY: No, it's definitely not a majority.


HANNITY: One of the things I think that you, this is all Rummy's Rules , by the way, and we're going to get to Monica Crowley's rules in a minute. She's in our audience. You have to plan for an uncertainty. You know, in the news business, I have got to be ready in any moment, something is going to break that I didn't plan for that show. And in life, life is like that. And in politics, being a defense secretary, you are always planning for the uncertainty of life, right?

RUMSFELD: Indeed. There are unknown unknowns, things you don't know, you don't know. And they can occur in your life and you have got to be able to deal with them and cope with them. I have a chapter on crisis management in the book, and it's not something that is easy. It's hard. But it's terribly important to get the facts out and put the facts out so that people know the truth about something. And if people grab arguments of convenience or put out a narrative that doesn't prove out over time, they are hurt. They are badly damaged.

HANNITY: All right. In the next chapter after planning for uncertainty is unknown of unknowns. And it's true. You know, life -- and this is -- one of the things that bothers me is I think it's very hard for good people to wrap their arms around one simple truth. And that's that evil exists in this world. We saw that in Boston, we saw that with this guy that kept these young women hostage and raped them for 10 years. We see it with radical Islam, we saw it with fascism and Nazism and communism and terrorism. Why can't people acknowledge that simple truth?

RUMSFELD: The only way you're going to prevail over an enemy, and that is an enemy, radical Islamism, is to identify it, label it, call it what it is, and be willing to engage ideologically against those thoughts. I mean, people think of the war on terror as more like Korea or World War II, it's much more like the cold war. It's going to take decades, it's not going to be one with bullets alone. It's clearly going to take engaging the ideological space and finding ways to reduce the number of people that are recruited, reduce the number of dollars that are going into training people, to going out and kill innocent men, women and children. That's what has to be done. But we are not even in that battle, we are not even occupying that space.

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