Thursday, April 08, 2004

The Globe watch -- Condi worship, Canadian style

In honor of today's upcoming festivities, during which U.S. National Security Advisor Condi Rice will have to testify before the 9/11 commission, under oath (you know, promising to actually tell the truth, God forbid), we have yet another installment of the Globe Watch, in which we find that Condi worship doesn't stop at the border.

I refer to an April 8 column by columnist Margaret Wente, in which Condi worship is taken to absolutely nauseating levels.

Revel in the following excerpts: "the most powerful woman in the world", "one awesome babe", "the most important national security advisor since Henry Kissinger", "the only woman on a team of alpha-plus-plus males." And all within the first two paragraphs. (Careful, Margaret -- you don't want to run out of superlatives.)

Predictably, Wente also has to squeeze in the recent and annoying X Files-style Republican talking points, referring to Rice as an "enigma" and that the media "can't quite get a handle on her."

It continues in this gushing, sycophantic vein: "The Warrior Princess shatters all stereotypes of race and gender", "a creature who should not exist", and on and on and tediously on. Trust me, you get the idea.

It is a relief, I suppose, when Wente takes a short break from this idol worship, if only to take a thoroughly dishonest shot at Rice's most high profile critic these days, Richard Clarke. Wente writes of Clarke:

Was 9/11 preventable? Of course not. Even Condi's nemesis, Richard Clarke, admits to that.

Not surprisingly, Clarke has admitted nothing of the sort. Wente might be referring to an incident wonderfully eviscerated by blogger Bob Somerby here, where Somerby refers to a passage from a Charles Krauthammer column in the Washington Post, in which Krauthammer describes a short exchange at the 9/11 hearings:

KRAUTHAMMER: Former senator Slade Gorton: "Assuming that the recommendations that you made on January 25th of 2001…had all been adopted say on January 26th, year 2001, is there the remotest chance that it would have prevented 9/11?"

Clarke: "No."

Note carefully what Clarke is actually saying -- that a specific set of recommendations he made on a particular day would not have prevented the terrorist attacks. But Clarke is certainly not making the absurd suggestion that those attacks could not have been prevented at all, as he made clear during a 60 Minutes interview with Lesley Stahl, during which Clarke said:

CLARKE: Lesley, if we had put their picture on the CBS Evening News, if we had put their picture on Dan Rather, on USA Today, we could have caught those guys, and then we might have been able to pull that thread and-and get more of the conspiracy. I'm not saying we could have stopped 9/11, but we could have at least had a chance.

How much clearer could Clarke get? No, a specific set of recommendations would not have helped, but certainly a number of different approaches might have made a difference, if only the Bush administration had taken the threat more seriously -- a pretty unsubtle distinction apparently lost on scribes like Wente.

Perhaps the funniest part of Wente's column is the closing line, in which Wente writes:

... a close friend told The New Yorker. "[Rice is] always thought of as underqualified and in over her head, and she always kicks everyone's butt."

Pretty amusing given that, these days, it's pretty well settled that Rice really is, in fact, thoroughly unqualified for her post and that, at the moment, she's not kicking any butt, anywhere.

UPDATE: Just in case you needed any confirmation of Condi Rice's depressing failure as a National Security Advisor, check out this recent post from Josh Marshall over at TalkingPointsMemo. Marshall's right -- it's pretty clear that "few people across the ideological spectrum believe that Rice has been an effective National Security Advisor". Follow those links to see for yourself. I'm not making this stuff up. I don't have to.

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