Wednesday, October 15, 2003

Condoleezza Rice, Colin Powell and the Boondocks

As every reader of this blog knows, the Freedom Rider is no fan of any Bush administration official. In one of my first posts, on September 14th, I spoke of the lies told on Dubya's behalf by National Security Adviser Condoleezza Rice. Suffice it to say that I don't like her, her boss, or her colleagues because of what they have wrought in the world. So it came as some surprise to me that I wound up defending her yesterday. Who was the instigator of this 180 degree turn? Of course it could only be Aaron McGruder, creater of the Boondocks comic strip. He had this to say about Rice.

The Freedom Rider is single, and like all single women has had to withstand the slings and arrows of both men and women who use female singleness to explain any and all negative character traits. I once had a female boss who I complained about quite a bit. Invariably I was asked, "Is she married? Does she have a man?" When I said she did not the inquisitor would usually say that living the solo life was the cause of her unpleasantness. As everyone knows women without men are hateful, bitter shrews. Mind you I have known married women who are hateful, bitter shrews, but no one uses marital status to explain their personalities.

So I fussed and fumed at Mr. McGruder on behalf of single women every where. However, I was forced to do another 180 when I read today's Boondocks. The Freedom Rider had to castigate herself. Had she missed obvious satire in the first Boondocks? I like to think I am very, very smart so I was and am deeply troubled by the Boondocks incident.

All of this brings me to another issue. As I said in an earlier post today, Greg Thielmann, a former aide to Colin Powell, has confirmed that Powell told a series of huge, wopping lies on February 5th in a United Nations speech used to justify an invasion of Iraq. Despite the fact that Powell has consistently lied in order to justify the war he is still admired by a majority of black Americans and by white liberals as well. I always hear that Powell is really "the spook who sat by the door," that he is going to resign, that he isn't really a Republican, that he restrains the conservatives, etc.

It is time to face the facts. Colin Powell has worked for the last three Republican presidents. He worked for Reagan as National Security Adviser, then as Chairman of the Joint Chiefs under Bush the elder, and now as Secretary of State for Shrub. May I ask why we should doubt that someone who has served as a top aide in three Republican administrations is in fact a Republican? Why does anyone think he is going to resign? He hasn't resigned because he likes what he does. He is a militarist who is comfortable with the foreign policy goals of this administration.

Most black people still speak highly of Powell, however. It really isn't hard to understand the reasons. At this late date in history most black people will defend those in the group who have done well. We keep voting for Democrats but even the beloved Bill Clinton never gave the most prominent White House jobs to blacks. Along comes Colin Powell in one of the highest level cabinet positions. The likelihood that black people will speak ill of him is slim.

But what of Condi? I never hear the same level of support expressed for her. Part of the explanation is sexism. Because she is a woman she doesn't get the pass from black people that Powell gets. I have also heard more than one person ask why she has never married. Is she a lesbian? What is really wrong with her?

Personality may play a role too. Powell seems to be a down to earth, congenial person. Rice quite frankly comes across as being prissy, which doesn't mesh well with comments like, "We don't want a mushroom cloud to be the smoking gun." Her hawkish remarks only make her look like the kid who always sucked up to the teacher. Powell manages to come across as being his own guy, one most people would like. His demeanor helps to insulate him from the liberal animus reserved for the rest of the Bush team. His skin color doesn't hurt either. Even in the age of Clarence Thomas and Armstrong Williams we don't want to think there are any black conservatives. Any black person who wants to be a conservative should be just that. But the vast majority of us who are anything but political conservatives must not be fooled when people who look like us don't hold the same views. If I had to choose between having Thomas or a white liberal on the bench, I would choose the white liberal.

I don't like Rice or Powell. Neither is more worthy of my respect than Rumsfeld or Cheney. I am afraid that Iraq is the harbinger of some terrible things to come for this country, so I leave racial identitfy aside when judging this administration.

I wish that more people were ready to judge other blacks, yes even prominent ones, by their actions. It makes no sense to dislike the President but love his Secretary of State. The President is the boss after all. The Secretary of State, like everyone else, follows the boss's orders or quits. If Powell quits I will reconsider. But it would still be hard to think of him and not remember the lies he told to get us into an unnecessary and dangerous war.