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Who makes the worst Secretary of State? Is it better to have a smooth talking good cop who is still a snake, or a very frightening lover of the Bush doctrine who is utterly incompetent? Condoleezza Rice, Dr. Condoleezza Rice, is multi-lingual, a former provost of a major university, a figure skating champion and a classical pianist. Her bio is clearly that of a very intelligent individual, but the old adage warning against judging books by the cover must be heeded in her case.

Colin Powell managed to maintain a good guy, down to earth image, even as he helped to kill thousands of people. On the other hand, Condi just doesn’t have a clue. She gives us the creeps because she is truly creepy. Rice is a true believer in the Bush doctrine. Powell sticks his finger in the wind to test which way the political wind is blowing, all so that he can decide how to go along and get ahead. Powell’s cynicism should not give him a pass. He can’t be absolved of the horror he has heaped upon the world. His hands are as bloody as the rest of the Bushmen.

Being joyful at the misfortune of others is usually not an admirable trait, but sometimes it is difficult to stifle that particular urge. The joy of watching Colin Powell get the heave ho is matched only by the sudden departure of his son Michael Powell from the chairmanship of the Federal Communications Commission.

Powell fils gave the usual statement about completing his mission of keeping us safe from Howard Stern’s potty mouth and Janet Jackson’s breast, and of course he wants to spend more time with his family. This skeptic has a more cynical take. If dad is shown the door, why bother keeping junior around?

Powell the younger, like his dear old dad, did the bidding of the right wing. He spent most of his time at the FCC accelerating the consolidation of the media and giving their corporate masters exactly what they wanted. Now they can get someone to complete the task who isn’t burdened with a has-been father. Junior will join his daddy on the dust bin of history. No one should feel guilty about laughing. He deserves as much scorn as Powell the Elder.

The only thing more satisfying than the downfall of the Powell clan is news that Bill Cosby may be a groper who slips a micky when he wants to get wild. A woman accused him of drugging her drink and then having his way with her. The man who is enjoying renewed celebrity status by making up vile lies about black people may be an ordinary pervert. Now that is funny.

Meanwhile Condi Rice continues her strange ascent. During her confirmation hearings she couldn’t even keep her facts straight with Senators predisposed to like her. Democrat Joseph Biden made it clear he would vote to confirm her. She then messed up as usual in her attempt to toe the Bush line that she loves so much.

Biden asked the good doctor how many Iraqis have been trained to serve as a police/security force. Rice replied, “We think the number right now is somewhere over 120,000.”

The pro-war Senator said, in essence, no way.  “I think you’ll find if you speak to the folks on the ground they don’t think there’s more than 4,000 actually trained Iraqi forces. I strongly urge you to pick up the phone or go see these folks.” There is an awfully big difference between 120,000 and 4,000. The soon to be Secretary of State has a big problem with figures.

That less than stellar performance was only the latest in a series of gaffes that would kill the career of anyone not well loved by the powerful. The same woman who made such undiplomatic statements as, “Encourage the Russians, ignore the Germans and punish the French,” will now be America’s top diplomat.

While Condi gave her usual sub-par performance before the Senate, her predecessor got a personal send off to Pallookaville from his boss. Continuing the annual pretense at honoring Dr. Martin Luther King, the hateful war monger President used King Day to honor the dishonorable Powell:

”He's been tireless and selfless and principled.  In the work he and I have shared, he has become a great friend, and I appreciate all he has done for our wonderful country.” 

With friends like Bush, Powell surely doesn’t need any enemies. In Powell’s farewell to State Department staff he declared himself to be proud of what he called accomplishments. Is he proud of forcing the elected president of Haiti out of office? Is he proud that he looked members of the Congressional Black Caucus in the face and told them he would do no such thing? Is he proud to have sat in the United Nations and claimed that tons of anthrax existed in Iraq?

The inept criminal will actually be better than the smooth criminal. Condi makes the Bush menace obvious, Colin helped them look good. It is hard to claim do-gooder status with Rice at the helm. It is now clear. Dr. Condoleezza Rice will make the better Secretary of State.

Margaret Kimberley’s Freedom Rider column appears weekly in   Ms. Kimberley is a freelance writer living in New York City.  She can be reached via e-Mail at [email protected]. You can read more of Ms. Kimberley's writings at


January 27 2005
Issue 123

is published every Thursday.

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