Concedes he does not know Arabic

Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld said today that he was encouraged by massive demonstrations in Baghdad marking the second anniversary of the fall of Saddam Hussein, telling reporters that he was particularly heartened by the Iraqis’ chant of “You go, America!”

“I have not seen so much excitement since the Army-Navy game,” a beaming Rumsfeld told reporters at a Pentagon press briefing. “You could tell that they were awfully worked up about something.”

While conceding that he did not know “a lick of Arabic,” Mr. Rumsfeld said, “You don’t need to know the language to see how excited those folks were — they were hooting and hollering up a storm.”

The Defense Secretary took particular pride in pointing out that the Iraqis had “gone to the trouble” of building a life-like effigy of President George W. Bush.

“They were jumping up and down, passing that darned thing back and forth,” he said. “You could feel the love!”

But Tariq Rasouli, professor of Arabic language studies at the University of Minnesota, cautioned against what he called Mr. Rumsfeld’s “overly optimistic” appraisal of the demonstrations: “He’s right that they were chanting ‘You go, America!’ but he left out the part where they chanted ‘immediately!’”

For his part, the Defense Secretary refused to announce a timetable for a U.S. withdrawal from Iraq: “How can I talk about leaving them when they remembered our anniversary?”

Andy Borowitz writes a daily humor column at