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Condoleeza Rice Is Worthy Of Criticism
(Written by Tommy Ates.  Posted June 19, 2002)

``Though I didn't see it, I heard it a few blocks away. It is a sound that I can still hear today.''

Those words uttered by National Security Advisor Condoleeza Rice about the death of her friend, one of the four little girls killed in the 1963 Birmingham church bombing, speaking at this year's Stanford University commencement, underscores the path, and, perhaps, the rhetorical glaze, that has enthralled ordinary white Americans, yet kept black (and lefty) dogs at bay.

No longer.

Like President Bush, (and without straight-message shooter White House Counselor Karen Hughes) the verbally-careful, former-Stanford provost currently on leave from the university, has made her first public gaffe, layered in a sense of right-wing, absolute certainty upon issues, only to be quickly rebuffed and to stay (most efficiently) in the shadows.

Dr. Rice's first verbal mistake was the miscalculation that she could 'dismiss' Palestinian President Yasser Arafat as a true partner for peace, saying to the Mercury News that the Palestinian people have the power to choose "the kind of leadership that can lead to the kind of state the Palestinian people need."

When asked about her comments in Palestine, Yasser Arafat promptly replied that she had no right to dictate to Palestinians how their future state should look.

And that's exactly correct. What is an American to say, even the National Security Advisor, about how a long, overdue and abused sovereign nation should conduct itself? (Dr. Rice wouldn't dare say that about Israel.)

So far, Condoleeza Rice has been viewed as an atoll of American purity, the prime example of how far African-Americans have become and (perhaps, how they should be). Unlike her fellow black, cabinet member, Secretary of State Colin Powell, Condoleeza has never taken the heat for comments that would run counter to the 'Bush message' (so fine-tuned by counselor Karen Hughes). Her recent candor to reporters about the Mideast crisis (which is Colin Powell's domain) illustrates the imbalance in the Bush cabinet between the 'hawks' (Rumsfeld) and the 'moderates' (Powell).

From her career move from provost of Stanford University to White House National Security Advisor, Condoleeza Rice has remained untouchable to criticism, even from the hard left, because she stayed silent behind the President on social issues while keeping 'on message' on security affairs. Much has been talked about her political kindred nature with President Bush on paper, but never has the public been given a glimpse of her "Bushisms" (until now).

From her muted commentary on affirmative action to the lowering of EPA emission standards, Ms. Rice has deliberately calibrated her presentation to the public, having the ability to fit in anywhere she goes, using her 'ah shucks' past as a shield while wielding classic, conservative politics.

Now don't get me wrong, a woman who is a class act in her professional and civic life she is; a precursor to the next race of blacks, she isn't. That would be an insult of her (and fellow African-Americans), what people don't seem to understand is - Dr. Rice is her own woman.

White conservative men don't know what to think of her (buddy or bedmate), and staunch Democratic blacks can only seem to give her "pleasantries," not criticism of her role in the Bush administration's domestic agenda, which has hurt the poor and minorities via her approval for new standards for security protocols, and the American people as a whole, in asking networks not air al Qaeda footage, which would give the American press a slim cover of impartiality while Arab-Americans were targeted and detained by Attorney General John Ashcroft.

In addition, no one should forget Dr. Rice's inaction with Rumsfeld-Powell power struggle in the Mideast, with Condi standing by the President, while the arrows of the more numerous war hawks hit Secretary of the State Powell with White House retractions for administration intentions (with the Palestinian Authority and media leaks) and doubting Powell's ability to negotiate 'effectively' with Arafat.

And in power plays, sometimes the most telling decision for a party is no decision at all.

Unfortunately, Powell may be on his own in this losing battle. Make no mistake about it, for all her pleasantries and her schooled prose, Rice is not a moderate, but a 'hawk' in a blue dress.

If you haven't read The New York Times or The Washington Post, White House Chief of Staff Andrew Card does have a lot to fear with Karen Hughes' departure.

With only the 'hawks' around the President, the chickens will have come to roost, eating at the remainder of our civil liberties, and, oh, did I forget war with Saddam (who had nothing to do with 9/11)?

Sorry, Condi. Though I like your success story, you're not worth the paying of that price.

Hmm, I wonder who sang, "Who Let the Dogs Out?"

About the author: Tommy Ates loves the left because the left is always right! Tommy Ates is a featured columnist of Left Is Right (http://www.leftisright.net) appearing in several publications, such as The Houston Chronicle, Fort Lauderdale Sun-Sentinel, The Wichita Eagle, The Macon Telegraph, and Global Black News, among others. His e-mail address is   atesbodhi5@aol.com

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