I Can Has Legacy?

November 28th, 2007at 11:14am Posted by Eli

Well, as usual, today’s MoDo column makes me cringe rather a lot. What’s not so usual is that it’s not MoDo that’s making me cringe:

Condi doesn’t want to be Iraq.

She wants to be a Palestinian state. It has a far more hopeful ring to it, legacy-wise.

The Most Powerful Woman in the History of the World, as President Bush calls her, is a very orderly person.

Like her boss, she loves schedules and routines and hates disruptions. As a child, she was elected “president” of her family, a position that allowed her to dictate the organizational details of family trips, according to “Condoleezza Rice: An American Life,” a new biography by The Times’s Elisabeth Bumiller.

Okay, stop right there. Liz Bumiller??? Liz Bumiller, the NYT’s designated White House puff-piece machine, the one who wrote “stories” on Dubya’s iPod and his fondness for ice cream? Oh yeah, I’ll be running right out and buying that book; it’s sure to be just jam-packed with insight and analysis. (As an aside, what do you want to bet that Liz suddenly morphs into a hard-hitting, take-no-prisoners journalist about a minute after a Democratic president is inaugurated?)

W. couldn’t be bothered to stay in Annapolis and try to belatedly push things along and guide Israel with a firmer hand.

After subverting diplomacy in his first term, now W. does drive-by diplomacy, taking a playboy approach to peace. He wants to look like he’s taking the problem of an Israeli-Palestinian treaty seriously when his true motivation is more cynical: pacifying the Arab coalition and holding it together so that he can blunt Iran’s sway.

When they invaded Iraq rather than working on the Palestine problem, W. and Condi helped spur the greater Iranian influence, Islamic extremism and anti-American sentiment that they are now desperately trying to quell.


The tight-as-a-tick team of W. and Condi have been consistently culturally obtuse on the Middle East, even with a pricey worldwide operation designed to keep them in the loop.

First, Condi missed the scorching significance of the August 2001 presidential daily brief headlined “Bin Laden Determined to Strike in U.S.” “An explosive title on a nonexplosive piece,” as she later dismissively described it.

Then she and W. failed to fathom that if Iraq went wrong, Iran would benefit.

When Brent Scowcroft, who lured the young Soviet expert from Stanford to the Bush 1 national security staff, wrote a Wall Street Journal piece before the Iraq war titled “Don’t Attack Saddam,” she didn’t call him to explore his reasoning. She scolded him for publicly disagreeing with W. Scowcroft confided to friends that he was mystified by Rice. She enabled Bush’s bellicosity rather than putting a brake on it.

“He told me several times, ‘I don’t understand how my lady, my baby, my disciple, has changed so much,’ ” a senior European diplomat told Bumiller.

Um. Granted, that’s filtered through the diplomat and then through Bumiller, but that’s kind of a creepy quote.

Condi and W. were both underwhelmed by the C.I.A.’s presentation of its case on Iraq’s W.M.D.’s on Dec. 21, 2002. Yet, only days later, Bumiller reports, Rice and W. were alone in the Oval Office when he surprised her by asking her point blank about the war: “Do you think we should do this?”

“Yes,” she told the president.

That’s not statesmanship. It’s sycophancy.


[I]n another instance of spectacular willful ignorance, she was blindsided by the Hamas win in the Palestinian elections.

As she described it to Bumiller, she went upstairs at 5 a.m. the morning after the Palestinian elections in 2006 to the gym in her Watergate apartment to exercise on her elliptical machine. She saw the news crawl reporting the Hamas victory.

“I thought, ‘Well, that’s not right,’ ” she said. She kept exercising for awhile but finally got off the elliptical trainer and called the State Department. “I said, ‘What happened in the Palestinian elections?’ and they said, ‘Oh, Hamas won.’ And I thought, ‘Oh, my goodness! Hamas won?’ ”

When she couldn’t reach the State Department official on the ground in the Palestinian territories, she did what any loyal Bushie would do: She got back on the elliptical.

“I thought, might as well finish exercising,” Rice told Bumiller. “It’s going to be a really long day.” It was one of the few times she was prescient on the Middle East.

It never ceases to amaze me just how detached an unengaged these people are. It’s like nothing is ever important enough to demand swift, decisive action and undivided personal attention. And it doesn’t even occur to them that there might be something wrong with this approach – Condi probably thought this was a brilliant anecdote when she told it to Bumiller.

Yeah, Annapolis is going to be a huge success with Condi at the helm. Maybe she’ll take Olmert and Abbas shoe shopping.

Entry Filed under: Bush,Iraq,Media,Republicans,War

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