The Rittenhouse Review

A Philadelphia Journal of Politics, Finance, Ethics, and Culture

Thursday, November 18, 2004  

With Media Miscellany
November 18, 2004

Bloody Hands [*]
Don't miss Joe Conason's latest column in the New York Observer, Politics Prevails Again In Rice’s Appointment," from which comes the following pull quote:

As observers of the Bush administration are quickly discovering, even the abject loyalty demonstrated by [Colin] Powell is not sufficient for survival in the new era of "the mandate." The fact that many voters supported the President despite severe misgivings about the nation’s direction is of no concern to the White House. The order of the day is extirpation of dissent and debate. Competence is dismissed while conformity rules. To disagree is to be purged, as Mr. Powell now understands.

The rise of Condoleezza Rice demonstrates this disturbing trend, however inspiring it is to see the first black woman appointed Secretary of State. As National Security Advisor, Ms. Rice nimbly abandoned her own once-cautious views to echo those of the dominant faction in the White House and the Pentagon. She repeatedly proved her willingness to prevaricate, whether to conceal the administration’s missteps before Sept. 11 or to promote myths about Saddam Hussein’s arsenal.

Historians will someday ask how Ms. Rice escaped accountability for neglecting urgent warnings about Al Qaeda by former counterterrorism chief Richard Clarke, former C.I.A. director George Tenet and others during the summer of 2001. They will wonder why she endorsed a decision to wage war based on patently false "intelligence" about Iraq’s nonexistent nuclear capacity. Did she know that the aluminum tubes supposedly intended for uranium enrichment were not suited to that purpose, as the government’s experts explained? Did she ignore evidence that the Niger uranium tale had been concocted from a forgery? She has never given convincing answers, leaving her integrity and competence in doubt.

Like her boss, Ms. Rice wishes to be seen as strong and decisive. No matter how wrong she may be, she is never in doubt. Doubt surrounds her nevertheless, due to her inability to manage the policymaking process in the National Security Council. The result has been confusion in dealing with the most serious challenges we face in stopping nuclear proliferation in North Korea and Iran.

Is this supposed to be the government we deserve? Oh, right.

Specter's Holy Grail
Sen. Arlen Specter (R-Pa.) has secured the backing of all the Republicans on the Senate Judiciary Committee, virtually assuring he will be seated as chairman in January. It's not clear what Sen. Specter gave in exchange for this, his holy grail, but his comments today aren't comforting: "I have assured the president that I would give his nominees quick committee hearings and early committee votes. . . . I have no reason to believe that I'll be unable to support any individual President Bush finds worthy." A.P. reports the senator's remarks were "cleared painstakingly in advance by committee members as well as the GOP leadership."

DeLay's Indictment
The grand jury indictment of House Majority Leader Tom DeLay (R-Texas), widely considered only a matter of time at this point, won't be an obstacle to his continued service of right-wing interests and issues. House Republicans yesterday changed a 1993 rule that would have required Rep. DeLay to step down after any indictments in state or federal courts. House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) responds: "Republicans have reached a new low. It is absolutely mind-boggling that as their first order of business following the elections, House Republicans have lowered the ethical standards for their leaders." As if they weren't below ground already.

[Post-publication insertion: For a thorough run-down of Rep. DeLay's malfeasance, see Jesse Lee's post at The Stakeholder.]

Clinton's Library
President Bill Clinton can still attract a crowd anywhere he goes. The official opening of the Presidential Center in Little Rock, Ark., today drew more than 30,000 people. The New York Times reports, "[D]espite the dreary sky, Mr. Clinton was beaming as he listened to words of praise from both Presidents Bush and former President Jimmy Carter, who all hailed his legacy as the 42nd president. (Former President Gerald R. Ford, 91, could not attend for health reasons.)

[* Note: Additional items may be posted to “Political Notes” after initial publication but only on the day of publication, excluding post-publication addenda. Such items, when posted, are designated by an asterisk.]

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