2005/01/20

Condi’s Senate Hearing: Nothing but Rice Pudding

I found this post whilst (I love that word lol)surfing tblog. The guys name is Jeffrey Rowan. It is one of the best posts I've read on tblog in a while:

Kudos to Senator Barbara Boxer, of California, for her tough, unstinting questioning of Condoleeza Rice during Rice’s confirmation hearing to become Secretary of State. While Rice cried foul, claiming that Boxer was impugning her integrity, in fact, Boxer was simply applying an old-fashioned, conservative idea: You are responsible for your prior acts and statements. This is an idea that doesn’t sit well with the Bush administration. Boxer held Rice’s feet to the fire for being the Iraq War’s biggest apologist and cheerleader—or more accurately, misleader—by simply listing the false statements that Rice had made during the run-up to the war: That there was a collaborative relationship between Saddam and Al Qaeda; that Iraq had recently purchased aluminum tubes from Africa “that are really only suited for a nuclear weapons program;” that Iraq had purchased yellow-cake, enriched uranium from Niger; that an important rationale for invading Iraq was its use of chemical weapons against the Iranians in the 1980’s—despite the fact that the attacks against Iran were at the time done with U.S. knowledge and complicity. Boxer charged Rice with untruths that were integral to the public’s initial support for the war, a war that has now killed 1300, and severely wounded over 10,000. Partly to explain her passion on this subject, Sen. Boxer offered a statistic of which very few of us were aware: Of those American soldiers killed in Iraq, 25% have come from California. Rice, for her part, acted as if the public airing of her statements over the last four years was some sort of unseemly personal attack.


While Boxer was Rice’s toughest critic, the most eloquent critic of the Bush/Rice team was Senator Joe Biden who had just returned from one of his many fact-finding trips in Iraq. Biden called Rice’s contention that there were “120,000 trained Iraqi troops,” ludicrous, pointing out that our own military authorities had told him that if one defined “trained” as being able to take the place of an American soldier, that there were only 4,000 trained Iraqi troops in the country. Biden grew so frustrated with Rice’s inability to identify an exit strategy, to give some clear measure of progress, to offer the committee her own definition of what torture was, and to acknowledge past administration mistakes, that he zinged Rice with the wittiest comment of the hearing: “It’s a little bit like I told my daughter when she was 16 -- I have no doubt by the time she was 30 years old, she would be a beautiful, intelligent, well-educated, happy lady. I just wondered how much pain there was going to be between then and 30.” The analogy was apt, because one of the things that the Rice hearing revealed was the breathtaking immaturity of the Bush administration. It was apparent that the Bush team did not see a Senate Foreign Relations Committee hearing as an opportunity to make a fresh start, to offer some serious reflection on past policy, to speak honestly with a co-equal branch of government and with the American people. Rather, they saw it as just another game of gotcha, in which the object is to never admit a mistake, never acknowledge a problem. The Bush administration is a massive vacuum cleaner that sucks up all principle in its path. From the standpoint of those seeking plain, honest talk, Rice’s presentation at the hearing was terrible failure: she was tenaciously and transparently evasive throughout. It was enough to give one instant nostalgia for Colin Powell, perhaps the one gold-plaited adult in the Bush administration. Yes, Powell did get co-opted into scamming the United Nations. But Powell still represented a counterweight to the war fever of the administration, and one had the sense of him wrestling with his tortured conscience throughout the last four years.


Perhaps that is what is so vexing about Condi Rice. Matters of war and peace seem as simple and one-dimensional to her as they do to George W. Bush. While superficially the committee vote looks lopsided at 16-2 (Senators Boxer and Kerry opposed) in favor of Rice’s confirmation, there was enormous dissatisfaction among Senators Biden, Dodd, Feingold, Obama, and Chafee, a number of whom indicated that they had to swallow hard before voting for Rice. This support was both an attempt at civility, and a tactical maneuver: “We’re supporting you now, so remember that when we decide to kick your behind in the future!”


If Rice’s hearing was marked by evasion and denial, the President this week set a new standard for denial in an interview given this week to the Washington Post. The Post asked Bush:


“In Iraq, there’s been a steady stream of surprises. We weren’t welcomed as liberators, as Vice President Cheney had talked about. We haven’t found the weapons of mass destruction as predicted. The postwar process hasn’t gone as well as some had hoped. Why hasn’t anyone been held accountable, either through firings or demotions, for what some people see as mistakes or misjudgments”?


Responded the President:


“Well, we had an accountability moment, and that’s called the 2004 election. And the American people listened to different assessments made about what was taking place in Iraq, and they looked at the two candidates, and chose me, for which I’m grateful.”


The President now implies, with a straight face, that every half-baked, poorly articulated policy idea floated by his administration has been certified, simply because he won the election. According to Bush, not only did the election ratify his prosecution of the war, it also absolves him of holding any administration officials responsible for the failure of the war. If you win the election, everything’s ok, right? All prior misdeeds get sanitized.


The arrogance of Bush and the arrogance of Rice are object lesson in why administrations go off the tracks during second terms in office. The sense of “we’re on top, and we can do what we want,” becomes the guiding ethos of the administration. This hubris will be on full display this week during the inauguration. Take a look at these interesting notes about the cost of the inauguration:


1. Total cost of the Inauguration: 50 million dollars.


2. Total cost of one fully armored Humvee: $125,000. In other words, the cost of the Inauguration could provide the military with 200 new, armored Humvees for the troops.


3. Cost of Laura Bush’s Inaugural Gown by Oscar de lat Renta: $10,000.


4. Cost of supplemental body armor for one soldier: $285. One ball gown could give 35 soldiers needed body armor.


5. Cost of Jenna Bush’s beaded gown: $10,000. Cost to update Kevlar Interceptor vests, to protect one soldier from AK-47: $650. Fifteen soldiers could be protected with these funds.



Finally, a media note. Of all the proliferating political roundtable shows, my favorite for years has been the Capital Gang on CNN, with such notables as Mark Shields, Al Hunt, Robert Novak, Kate O’Beirne, and Margaret Carlson. The show is long running, has become a signature CNN show, and is illuminating. Hence my shock when I read in various media that the show was slated for cancellation. To confirm what I had read, I called CNN two days ago, and was referred to “public relations.” My interlocutor was not pleased at my question. “We have no comment to make at this time,” she said. She continued suspiciously, “Who are you?” “I’m just a private citizen and a blogger who has enjoyed the show for many years.” She was still suspicious: “Are you from the Washingtonian Magazine?” “No,” I insisted. “I’m just a private citizen trying to get some information.” Her final comment was, “All I can say is that the show will run for the foreseeable future.” Hmmmm. Your guess is as good as mine.


4 Comments:

It's another great piece from JR. I always read whatever he post and wish he would chime in more often. Unlike some of us he probably has a life. ;)
1/20/2005 09:04:00 pm  
"Unlike some of us he probably has a life. ;)"

Hahahahaha! 

Posted by whynot
1/21/2005 10:37:00 am  
Blogging is my life. I am a blogger. It's now a jobskill. If only I could find a job.. 

Posted by Dianne
1/21/2005 01:22:00 pm  
lol Dianne, what you have to do is become as popular as Wonkette and charge people to advertise on your blog... then you'd be rolling in money. 

Posted by starchybean
1/21/2005 03:45:00 pm  

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