The Monitor never quite understood the good feelings Condoleezza Rice managed to inspire among so many conservatives for what seemed like the longest time. The woman never uttered a single word on foreign policy – her alleged area of expertise – that could even remotely be described as original, inspiring, or just plain memorable.
Maybe some conservatives simply appreciated having a prominent female African American Republican – and one in high places, at that – they could throw back in the faces of liberals always quick to characterize the GOP as a party of racist mountebanks.
Or perhaps they were under the impression that someone so apparently close with George W. Bush had to share the president’s core foreign policy beliefs. This despite her being a protégé of Brent Scowcroft, close friend of and adviser to Poppy Bush, who, unlike his son, shared Scowcroft’s State Department-tinged Arabist view of the world.
“Rice,” wrote James Mann in Rise of the Vulcans, his justly praised book on the current President Bush’s foreign-policy team, “was not an ideological conservative…. Her views were much closer to those of Henry Kissinger and Scowcroft than to the Reagan wing of the Republican party.”
Indeed, by the late 1990’s Scowcroft, according to Mann, “had already been working for more than a decade to advance Condoleezza Rice’s career, mostly by bringing her to the attention of Bush’s father. His endeavors on behalf of Rice continued even after she and the [first] Bush administration had left Washington.”
Rice’s influence as National Security Adviser during George W. Bush’s first term was held in check by the administration’s neoconservative contingent, which also managed to keep then-Secretary of State Colin Powell’s Scowcroftian worldview from becoming de facto U.S. Mideast policy. But now Rice has succeeded Powell, and the neocon presence in the White House is a shell of what it was a mere couple of years ago.
Given all that as backdrop, perhaps it’s only natural that a newly puffed-up Rice would feel less restrained in singing a sad song for the Palestinians, a dirge that sounds uncomfortably like something lifted from the songbook of the liver-lipped anti-Israel scold James Earl Carter.
Fresh from delivering widely panned remarks on how solving the plight of the poor, suffering Palestinians would just about be the neatest and peachiest thing the United States could ever do, Rice again revealed a propensity for muddled sentimentality that bore no discernable resemblance to that purported dazzling brilliance one used to hear so much of.
In an interview with Cal Thomas, a key excerpt of which appeared exclusively on Jewish World Review (www.jewishworldreview.com), Rice made the kind of supremely sappy statement that gives banality a good name.
Thomas, the country’s most widely syndicated columnist and a man described by Jewish World Review editor-in-chief Binyamin L. Jolkovsky as “so thoroughly pro-Israel, no matter the consequences,” asked Rice: “What evidence do you have that teaching their schoolchildren at the ages of four and five to be martyrs, to show up in their little uniforms with plastic guns and their headbands, textbooks one grenade plus two grenades equals, you know, three grenades – what evidence do you have out there that if [the Palestinians] had an independent state that they would lay down their arms and not complete the mission of killing the Jews and throwing them out?”
Rice responded with a torrent of clichés – how the vast majority of Palestinians desire peace more than anything, how they wish to live side by side with Israel, how Palestinian mothers don’t want their children to become suicide bombers but rather to mature into studious collegiate types, blah, blah, blah.
His patience evidently depleted, Thomas finally interjected: “Do you think this or do you know this?”
To which the dazzling Dr. Rice, who was as recently as last year was rather ridiculously touted as the Republicans’ ideal 2008 presidential candidate by no less a political maven than Dick Morris (who actually wrote an instantly outdated book called Condi vs. Hillary: The Next Great Presidential Race) responded: “Well, I think I know it.”
An obviously nonplussed Thomas repeated: “You think you know it?”
“I think I know it,” Rice reiterated.
Call it foreign policy by intuition – or empathy or telepathy. Not exactly what Brent Scowcroft had in mind when he was grooming Condi for great things, but probably at least as dangerous as anything floating around the noggin of that old State Department bureaucrat.