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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