Let’s not get ourselves too unsettled about the probable confirmation of Condoleezza Rice as Secretary of State. After all we have seen that the position has been and probably will continue to be primarily ceremonial. Much has been said about the importance of the person at State having a good relationship with the president. That we know is already the case with Ms. Rice. Whether this is good for the country is quite another thing. But, as we also learned from Colin Powell’s tenure in the position, there are forces within the administration shaping foreign policy that render the Secretary’s influence almost irrelevant. That being the case the holder of the office serves for the most part as a figurehead – – addressing the United Nations, traveling to war torn, disaster-plagued countries and promoting policies already in place. This is not a president who wants to hear ‘the other side’ of issues that may conflict with his ‘certainties.’
And although we will probably never know just what was said in conversations that took place between Secretary Powell and President Bush, it is quite apparent that his influence was secondary to that of Rumsfeld, Cheney and others. No doubt that will continue to be the case with Condoleezza Rice but probably in a more congenial way. And it may be true, as some have suggested, that it will improve our reputation around the world to have a black woman as Secretary of State. More importantly, let’s face it; the country is probably a lot safer with Ms. Rice at State than it was when she was National Security Advisor.
Basically what we do know, is that there are few areas, in government, probably none in fact, whether at the cabinet level or in the court system, where loyalty and absolute obeisance to ‘the word’, as it is orchestrated by the administration, doesn’t trump competence and an expansive view of national and world events. The presentation of the Presidential Medal of Freedom to George Tenet, General Franks and Paul Bremer is just one of those incongruous moments so typical of Bush’s often bizarre take on things. Bad decisions, poor planning, little or no insight about matters of enormous importance are rewarded by praising people who stayed the course in terms of supporting more of the same. And General Frank’s stumping for Bush during the campaign probably didn’t hurt either.
In a complicated universe with so many diverse religions and political constructs we are in the throes a narrow vision masquerading as a world view. Why else would those entrusted with the stewardship of the nation’s security find it a sensible course of action to expel military personnel knowledgeable about middle-east issues who speak the languages of the region because they are gay?

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