Thursday, February 01, 2007

"How the hell has Condoleeza Rice got away with it for so long?"

Cragg Hines, DC bureau chief for the Chronic (I love him mostly because he drives these people batshit) serves:

A cheeky Brit pol is ragging on the bearer of the Vestalian aura within the Bush crowd, Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice.

What's more, the guy is a leading light in the Conservative Party, once such great chums with Bush's Republicans. ...

And the incipient backbiting I'd hope this guy's screed generates could make the dust-up between Rice, incensed professional woman, and Sen. Barbara Boxer, the California flamer-mother, look like the sitcom episode it was.

Actually, Johnson's extended paragraph could have been dictated by any number of Rice's erstwhile allies in the American conservative movement. Johnson knows some of the same folks I do who have been dishing Condi's intellectual capacity and judgment from the get-go.

Here's the extended paragraph he refers to, from the blog of MP Boris Johnson (bold emphasis added to make it easier to read):

It is one of the great mysteries of modern geopolitics. How the hell has Condoleezza Rice got away with it for so long? There she is, Secretary of State of the United States and one of the most powerful people on the planet. It is Condi Rice who leads on behalf of you, me, the entire Western world, in waging this deepening Cold War with Iran. She is the girl who threatens Ahmedinejad with Armageddon, or whatever our policy is. And yet if you read State of Denial by Bob Woodward (as you must) it is clear that she was the most stupefyingly incompetent National Security Adviser in the history of that office. She was warned, in some detail, about 9/11. The CIA made a special trip to see her on 10 July 2001 to say that al-Qa'eda was planning something huge and imminent, and that a 'strategic' response was necessary. Uh-huh, said Condi, and did zip; and at every stage in the catastrophic 'War on Terror' her behaviour is characterised by this same weird zen-like passivity. Soon after the invasion the question emerges: should the US send many more troops? Condi somehow fails to offer an opinion. The Americans' first hapless proconsul, Jay Garner, asks her before setting out what the game plan is. Where is power to reside? he asks. Who do we want to run the country? You might have thought this was a fairly crucial question, but 'Rice said nothing.' When Garner's successor, Jerry Bremer, makes the appalling mistake of de-Baathifying Iraq, she doesn't seem to grasp the significance of what is going on. And yet she was so important in the decision-making process that she was one of only two people consulted by Bush before he made his decision to go to war. The whole thing is terrifying. I absolutely refuse to take seriously any American urgings to get tough on Iran as long as she is still part of the show. Rumsfeld was demonised until Bush finally whacked him. Colin Powell was whacked. How come Condi is still flying around telling us what to do? One of the many reasons for regretting the death of Robin Cook, Labour's conscience over Iraq, is that he never had the chance to interrogate her. I was all set to write the headline, 'Cook Turns Up Heat On Rice.' It's about time someone did.

At every critical point in her administration tenure Rice has been out to lunch, literally or figuratively; shopping for shoes and attending Broadway plays while New Orleans drowned being the most obvious and appalling example.

She initially forgot about a briefing from George Tenet on July 10, 2001 regarding the al-Qaeda threats in advance of 9/11, but later on when her recall improved she also remembered that she had asked that former AG John Ashcroft receive the same briefing one week later. (He also currently disavows recollection of his briefing, yet something happened during mid- to late July -- six weeks before the World Trade Center towers were hit -- that scared Ashcroft so badly he ceased flying commercial aircraft.)

She confused Bush as being her "husb..." even though she's never been married.

Finally, when Bush asked Rice to focus on Iraq when she was still at NSA he said her job was "to help unstick things that may get stuck, is the best way to put it. She's an unsticker."

Now there's an unsettling visual.

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