The life of Robert McNamara

Kennedy Cabinet Members
Cabinet PostIncumbent
Secretary of StateDean Rusk, 1961
Secretary of the TreasuryC. Douglas Dillon, 1961
Secretary of DefenseRobert S. McNamara, 1961
Attorney GeneralRobert F. Kennedy, 1961
Postmaster GeneralJ. Edward Day, 1961: John A. Gronouski, 1963
Secretary of the InteriorStewart L. Udall, 1961
Secretary of AgricultureOrville L. Freeman, 1961
Secretary of CommerceLuther H. Hodges, 1961
Secretary of LaborArthur J. Goldberg, 1961: W. Willard Wirtz, 1962
Secretary of Health, Education, and WelfareAbraham A. Ribicoff, 1961: Anthony J. Celebrezze, 1962

McNamara was the star—the animateur—of one of the best documentaries ever about the challenges and drama of public policy (not just the conduct of war): Errol Morris’ The Fog of War. His performance in this film—the objective and serious way he seemed to analyze his own policy choices and motives, and the humanity that, it appears, grew from taking responsibility for those choices as well as from his own inclinations— makes this a remarkable public record.

Incidentally, check-out the terrific Flash animation at the Fog of War site for an account of McNamara’s own life in his own words. Superbly done!

McNamara’s life and contributions are summarized in a nicely composed Financial Times obituary published today.

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