Saturday, January 22, 2005

Colbert I. King on Condoleezza Rice

Colbert I. King's column in the Washington Post today is well worth reading. Colby King is highly regarded by most people who live in Washington or who have lived there in the past, as I have. He writes most often, with sensitivity and insight, about Washington itself, his life-long home and the city he loves. I'm sure he wouldn't object to my saying he's a liberal, but it would be more relevant to simply say he's a decent man who identifies with the people around him and is concerned about their problems. Today's column is his reaction to the Senate hearings on Condoleezza Rice.

While King disagrees with Rice on many things, he was disappointed by the shoddy treatment she received from some senators, especially Senator Barbara Boxer. He wrote:

...Boxer, rather than sticking to Rice's performance as national security adviser and her qualifications to direct U.S. foreign policy, chose instead to gratuitously characterize her as a Bush loyalist who was blindly parroting pro-Iraqi war lines without regard for whether they were true.

Boxer said to Rice: "I personally believe -- this is my personal view -- that your loyalty to the mission you were given, to sell the war, overwhelmed your respect for the truth." Loyalty to the mission you were given, to sell the war. Ponder the weight of that statement. It comes close, at least in spirit, to the picture of Rice sketched by political cartoonist Pat Oliphant a few weeks ago. In case you missed it, Oliphant drew a big-lipped, bucktooth Rice perched like a parrot on President Bush's arm. Bush was speaking to Rice in baby talk, with Rice replying: "Awwrk!! OK Chief. Anything you say, Chief. You Bet, Chief. You're my HERO, Chief."

It's hard to imagine a more demeaning and offensive caricature of a prospective secretary of state, let alone the most senior official on the national security staff. It's equally difficult to understand what prompted Boxer to imply that Rice is little more than a diligent echo of Bush's thoughts. There's nothing in Rice's background or in her performance to suggest that she is a mindless follower of presidential orders. In fact, Rice comes across as just the opposite. ...

Wonder why Rice stayed close to Bush's policies in her hearings? Consider the possibility that the administration's policies happen to be hers too. Consider too the likelihood that years of study and work in foreign affairs, both as an academic and as a senior foreign policy wonk, are what inform her views -- not George W. Bush. ...

What prompts Rice's critics to portray her -- a former Stanford University provost who managed a $1.5 billion budget, 1,400 faculty members and 14,000 students -- as a flunky who, when ordered, simply salutes and runs out to play huckster? ...

A senator who believes the Bush administration lied about the war, made a mess of postwar reconstruction and ruined relations with long-standing allies would be justified in holding Rice accountable, and in my view, in voting against her confirmation. Senate Foreign Relations Committee members Boxer and John Kerry did as much.

But slurring her as a hollow-headed marionette controlled by Bush? What's that all about? It calls to mind John Sylvester, a white radio talk show host in Madison, Wis., who recently went Boxer and Oliphant one better -- or worse. "Sly," as he calls himself, went on the air and caricatured Rice as a servile black, laboring slavishly for the Bush White House. He called her, of all things, an "Aunt Jemima."


Blogger Gindy said...

"chose instead to gratuitously characterize her as a Bush loyalist who was blindly parroting pro-Iraqi war lines without regard for whether they were true"

What I don't understand, is that they seem to be demanding someone that doesn't agree with the President. Did they make the same demand for President Clinton? Someone that is not loyal? Have you ever seen Rice's resume (I am sure you have). It is incredible.

12:08 PM, January 22, 2005  
Blogger Junebugg said...

That's the bad thing about public office, you become a target. While I don't agree with all Bush's ideals, I do think Rice is a strong person and follows her own mind. She and Bush are in the same camp, but I DO NOT think she's a "Yes Girl" and nothing else.

7:21 PM, January 22, 2005  
Blogger On the Mark said...

Barbara Boxer simply gave another performance indicating what a political light weight she actually is. Here in California, even our other very liberal Senator (Diane Feinstein) won't be seen with Boxer. While I don't generally agree with either of their political viewpoints, I have a lot of respect for Feinstein...and absolutely zero for Boxer.

9:40 PM, January 22, 2005  

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