Just As I Thought

Just Say It

My very simple take on Condoleeza Rice’s interview last night: I don’t believe her. She was, like most politicos, completely evasive. When asked a question, she not only deftly avoided an actual answer, but parsed her words with Clintonesque finesse that had “plausible deniability” written all over it. For example, when asked if she would apologize for policy failures on Sept. 11, she pulled out the old trick of apologizing for the event, not the policies.
Astonishingly, the interview with Charles Pickering which followed was quite a contrast. I had never looked into the allegations about him — that he is racist — but just shrugged off the Democratic opposition to him on the grounds that the Republicans had done the same to Clinton appointees. I was surprised to see that he not only answered all the questions put to him, but that he was quite eloquent in explaining his actions in reducing the sentence imposed on a cross-burning convict. He came across as an honest man.

I can’t stand the political non-answer brigade, these people like Rice, Cheney, and even a large phalanx on the left; the people who somehow take a straightforward question then manage to respond in such a way that they don’t give an answer or create a response that is word-perfect and non-actionable. A response that gives them political and legal cover later so that they can insist that they didn’t say what you think they said.

Another thing I’ve noticed lately about the Bush administration personnel: they remind me of old Soviets. Remember way back when? When all those Soviet politburo members appeared in public wearing a somber uniform topped off with a shiny red star on their lapel?
Have you noticed that with one notable exception, each and every Bush administration member appears wearing an American flag lapel pin? I guess that’s so no one will question their patriotism.
Oh, and the notable exception?
Donald Rumsfeld never wears a pin. I can’t figure out what that signifies. It’s worth noting that he’s the only outspoken, say-what-he-thinks member of the administration. I may not ever agree with what he says, but I certainly respect the fact that he says it.

One last quickie here:

Few participants in the Clarke Wars seem inclined to look for at least some areas of common ground that might narrow the chasm.

But perhaps there are things everyone can agree on?

For example, Clarke has said that while the Bush administration didn’t ignore concerns over terrorism, he felt it didn’t consider the threat to be a matter of great urgency before Sept. 11.

And here’s President Bush, asked whether he would have ordered Osama bin Laden taken out before Sept. 11, telling The Washington Post on Dec. 20, 2001:

“There was a significant difference in my attitude after September 11th. I was not on point, but I knew he was a menace, and I knew he was a problem. I knew he was responsible, or we felt he was responsible, for the bombings that killed Americans. I was prepared to look at a plan that would be a thoughtful plan that would bring him to justice, and would have given the order to do that. I have no hesitancy about going after him. But I didn’t feel that sense of urgency, and my blood was not nearly as boiling.”

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