Condoleezza RiceCondoleezza Rice is the National Security Advisor to George W Bush. Now, you may be wondering, what exactly does that mean?
Well, the job entails a lot of running around with a plastic bag and a pooper scooper behind the president of the United States, trying to clean up his many messes. If you're thinking that it doesn't take a rocket scientist to pull off that kind of job, you're right.
National Security Advisor used to be a pretty important job, often filled by a towering amoral intellect like Henry Kissinger. However, the only time you're likely to see "towering intellect" and "Condoleeza Rice" in the same sentence is... well, you just read it.
It's not that she doesn't look good on paper. She spent 20 years working at Stanford in various positions, eventually rising to provost, and she worked as an advisor in various capacities to the first Bush administration.
But when you listen to her talk, it's impossible to avoid the flashbacks to sixth grade social studies, and the well-meaning but stultifying teacher who tried to explain world politics to you but fucked it up so badly that you're still not sure what an electoral college is or why there was ever a wall in Berlin in the first place. (I think it had something to do with blocks?)
In 1998, George Bush Sr. called Rice and asked her to teach his idiot spawn everything he needed to know about the world.
Undaunted by this Herculean task, Rice agreed to the request, and the clueless Bush Jr. quickly became dependent on her smartitude. Her excellent tutoring paid tremendous dividends in shining moments like Bush's 1999 interview with a Boston TV reporter, in which he was unable to name the president of Pakistan while praising the military coup which created the anonymous fellow's dictatorship.
When Bush walked into the White House with a solid majority of Broward County, Fla., voters, Condoleezza Rice was right by his side, whispering in his ear when he forgot important civics facts, like the name of the Queen of Bavaria or the number of states in the union.
Rice had all the qualifications for membership in the new Bush administration a close personal bond with the president, the ability to make him look good (well, less bad) and (needless to say) deep ties to the oil industry. Chevron even named a tanker after her. Rice was a former member of the board of directors of Chevron, as well as Charles Schwab, Transamerica, Hewlett Packard and The Rand Corporation.
Bush referred to Rice, his vice president Dick Cheney and Defense deputy Paul Wolfowitz as "the Vulcans," presumably because they used big words that he couldn't understand. With the election securely litigated, Bush named Rice his National Security Advisor and everyone proceeded to stick their collective thumb up their collective ass until September 11, 2001.
In the aftermath of al Qaeda's attack on the United States, Rice worked to become a voice of intellectual reassurance to offset Bush's swaggering bravado. In front of the cameras, she somehow managed to be completely unconvincing in the defense of the administration's actually quite justifiable invasion of Afghanistan.
Behind the scenes, Rice had her hands full trying to run a Cabinet full of maniacs, including Cheney, Donald Rumsfeld and Colin Powell, all of whom were constantly at each others' throats over possible strategies, and the question of just how fast the hostilities in Afghanistan could be expanded to Iraq.
When U.S. military action to topple Saddam Hussein became an inevitability (historians have identified the date as September 12, 2001), Rice also became one of the leading salespeople in charge of jamming the inexplicable war down the throats of reluctant Americans and the reluctant rest of the world too.
Rice also brought her silver-tongued diplomacy to the Arab world, reassuring panicky Arab leaders that the U.S. only wanted to bring "diplomacy and freedom" to all the nations of the Middle East, which is just what the monarchists, theocrats and dictators wanted to hear. The response in a Jordanian newspaper was pretty typical:
"As for you, black Condoleezza Rice, swallow your tongue, remember your origins and stop talking about liberation and freedom. Have you not been taught by your cowboy masters that 'slaves' cannot liberate themselves, that they are not capable to capture the large Islamic world whose cultural roots are planted in the depths of history. The slaves who are happy with their enslavement, O Condoleezza, will continue to be enslaved. They will never be free and will never free others."
Ignoring this good advice, Rice went right back to her cowboy masters and toed the line on Iraq (after all, she had the value of her Chevron shares to think about). In fact, she and the also-black Colin Powell made the bulk of the administration's case for the invasion, mostly because the old white guys Cheney and Rumsfeld couldn't get through the interviews without salivating. Rice and Powell gave repeated speeches in which they warned of the dangers of Iraq's Weapons of Mass Destruction.
At the time, everyone was convinced that Iraq probably had some sort of weapons of mass destruction, based in part on the fact that Rumsfeld gave a bunch of them to Saddam Hussein during the 1980s.
But having successfully goaded Americans into sitting on their hands and letting the "boys have their fun" in Iraq, Rice was suddenly embroiled in explaining why no weapons were actually used against or found by by invading U.S. troops. Rice also became the administration's lead spokesperson in trying to explain the president's decision to use outright lies to justify the attack during his State of the Union address in January 2003.
She brought her usual fortitude to the task of explaining the president's reference to forged and discredited documents which alleged that Iraq had tried to buy uranium in Niger. Rice explained this by making profound intellectual points like "It was the CIA's fault," and "I didn't know nothin' and you can't prove it," and "it's the Brits' fault" and "whoever's fault it is, it is certainly not mine, unless you think it's the president's, in which case it's mine."
As of this writing, Rice's future role in the Bush administration seems assured. Vegas odds are currently running about 7-2 that Rice will at some point be selected as "fall guy" (or is it "fall gal") for the uranium fiasco. CIA Director George Tenet will have to go first, however, so hold your bets.
UPDATE: Tenet is history, but as of this posting, it looks like Donald Rumsfeld is next in line to get the axe. Grrl power rules!