as good a time as any to gauge how Condoleezza Rice is measuring up to
her Image Award. Ever since the televised presentation back in March,
lots of us have wondered how NAACP executive director Kweisi Mfume had
come to the conclusion that Bush’s national security advisor should
be counted among those “who advance the ideals of the NAACP through
image, personal achievement and service to all people of color.”
the producers decided that Rice has qualities that make for compelling
TV. The Image Awards show is, after all, designed to make money to
fund the NAACP’s good works.
White House also seems to think Rice works well with media. Last fall,
she was the operative assigned to warn the TV networks to adjust their
coverage of the World’s Biggest Story. Osama bin Laden’s tapes were
getting too much play, stealing Bush’s airtime. It took the charming
Dr. Rice no time at all to convince the corporate media chiefs to muzzle
their reporters and news producers. The nation was made a safer place,
as “sleeper” terrorists across the country were forced to watch for
their coded messages on Arab satellite television. This cost the Al
Qaida network lots of money in satellite dishes and fees, seriously
disrupting their operations.
was trotted out again in the wake of the failed, U.S.- backed coup against
Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez. Perhaps not coincidentally, television
network owners, an important part of the white oligarchy opposed to
Chavez, spearheaded the bufoonish power grab by the country’s business
class and a portion of the military. The two-thirds of Venezuelans
who are mestizo, mulatto, black or indigenous can’t even get into the
audiences of their networks’ endless pop music and game shows. (If
you think I’m exaggerating, check out your local Spanish language channel.
The programs from Venezuela are super-white.)
privately-owned stations all but choreographed the day of demonstrations
leading up to the coup, directing crowds to rallying points in the capital,
describing the protesters as representing the will of the Venezuelan
people, charging the President with crimes against the populace, and
cheering his arrest by corrupted officers. If it’s on TV, it must be
Rich, white television switched to cartoons and soap operas when the
dark-skinned districts of the capital regrouped to demand their
President back. The coup collapsed in less than 48 hours, as slum dwellers
joined loyal soldiers to recapture the presidential palace.
for the U.S. the issue is oil, oil, oil. To the people of the Caribbean
rim, power is also about race. In Panama, for example, the common folks
have a term for their ruling classes: the white-asses.
racial/political nuances may be unknown to the learned Dr. Rice, an
expert Sovietologist in a world without a Soviet Union. Shocked that
U.S. subversion of an elected Latin American government had actually
fizzled, Rice offered the reinstated President Chavez the most backhanded
advice imaginable. "I hope he takes advantage of this opportunity
to right his own ship which has been moving in the wrong direction frankly
for quite a long time," she told the cameras in Washington.
other words, Watch out. We will get you, next time.
would hope that Mr. Mfume agrees that such sentiments are not in keeping
with the “ideals of the NAACP.” Nor would Venezuela’s overwhelmingly
non-white poor find her public role to be one of “service to all people
interrupt this program….
and her bosses must have thought they were watching Channel Zero. Nothing
was going according to script. Not only did Washington’s Venezuelan
coup implode almost as soon as it had begun, but the assembled heads
of state of the entire Western Hemisphere acted immediately. They seriously
threatened sanctions against the plotters. It was enough to make Bush,
Condoleezza, the New York Times and the Washington Post catch the vapors.
Organization of American States insisted on honoring a treaty signed
by all members, pledging them to act in concert whenever an elected
government is removed by non-constitutional means. The U.S. is a signatory
too but, hell, can’t they take a joke?
treaty stuff complicates Bush’s world and makes Condoleezza’s job a lot
more difficult. Only days after the Venezuelan debacle, the U.S. was
made to appear pro-genocide in the eyes of much of the planet when it
boycotted ceremonies ushering in the permanent international criminal
court. The tribunal will have jurisdiction over charges of genocide,
crimes against humanity and war crimes. The U.S. wants immunity.
the treaty, even the tiniest nations are empowered to invoke the tribunal’s
authority. The Bush administration vows never to sign onto the document,
even if American soldiers are given wide exemptions. Apparently, no
exemption is big enough to safeguard the U.S. from being indicted for
whatever actions Condoleezza is advising Bush to take after July 1, when
the international court’s authority kicks in.
the rule of law gets any more popular among nations, Rice may have to
look out for more than just her image. The BBC’s assessment of the
new court’s mandate is that, “in theory, any
American, from high-ranking officials like the Secretaries of Defense
or State to soldiers in the field, could be accused of a crime.”
needs to touch base with Henry Kissinger, quickly. Kissinger started
out in Rice’s job, and his High Crimes in the Nixon White House are
still dogging him around the globe. Last month he found himself darting
among the shadows in London, avoiding a looming subpoena from a Chilean
judge who wants to know about Kissinger’s role in mass political murder
following the U.S.- backed 1973 coup. Last year, a French judge with
questions for Kissinger about the fate of his countrymen in Chile and
Argentina, forced the evil little troll to skitter furtively around
Paris like a man with outstanding warrants.
Condoleezza and the rest of Bush’s crew get another shot at Hugo Chavez,
unleashing murderous, rightwing terror on the people of Caracas with
a ferocity worthy of her predecessor, Henry. Ten years from now, she’ll
be a wanted woman in every world capital except Tel Aviv. Will the
NAACP take her in, then? What about the image thing?
Role Model’s Burden
Rice is 129,915 tons of deadweight. There, I said it, and it felt good.
that’s the deadweight tonnage of the oil tanker previously known as
Condoleezza Rice, christened in her honor by Chevron for services rendered
while Rice sat on the oil giant’s board of directors, from 1991 until
the day before Bush took office. That’s right, she went straight from
a job with Big Oil to a job with…Big Oil. So did half of the White
they’ll all be going back to their respective oil companies when Bush
leaves the Oval Office. A fleet of oil tankers will be lined up along
the Potomac River, newly emblazoned with the names of their returning
executives and directors. The Altair Voyager (Bahamas registry) will
once again sail the slicked seas as the mighty Condoleezza Rice.
good-bye from the pier, misty-eyed, will be the Awards Committee of
the NAACP, proud that a member of The Race is part of the Great Fleet.
fair! cry the Guardians of Condoleezza’s Image. Every minority group
needs the vicarious exhilaration of seeing one of its own in high places.
certainly true. African Americans are not alone when it comes to the
pain and heartbreak of honoritis. Geraldo Rivera is an excellent example.
World’s Most Famous Puerto Rican is regularly spoofed on Saturday Night
Live and other comedy shows. His actual presentations from Afghanistan
for Fox News are more ridiculous than anything the comedy writers could
me to share with you the following from Fairness & Accuracy in Reporting
(FAIR), a progressive media watchdog organization:
he found Osama bin Laden, Rivera vowed, "I'll
kick his head in, then bring it home and bronze it" (Philadelphia
”We want to be there when they bring Osama bin Laden to justice. We
want - I've got a New York City fire department hat I want to put on
- on the body of his - you know, the head of his corpse. It's deeply
personal, on the one hand. On the other hand, it is my professional
Rivera: “We’ve been in various conflicts, and we keep our chin up and
keep focused on the fact that we want Osama bin Laden to end up either
behind bars or six feet under or maybe just one foot under or maybe
just as a pile of ash, you know. That's it.”
Fox anchor Laurie Dhue: “All right. Well said, Geraldo.”
Rivera: “We want to win.”
“As you are about to see, this rat can still bite.... We're undaunted,
though. We're going back up the hill. These guys are getting ready to
mount their third straight day of assaults on the Tora Bora complex....
And then, you know, then it's going to get really ugly. Then it's going
to be brutal hand-to-hand, eyeball to eyeball, bayonet to bayonet fighting
to root the rats out of their last nest.”
Every boom I kind of said, 'Go for it, boys. Hows this,
Osama? Remember September 11.' And they were rockin' all night long,
rockin', rockin’, one shot that you could tell were the precision-guided
munitions, and then the clusters of a half a dozen or so from the B-52s.
But they did not sleep in Tora Bora. I mean, imagine, if we're here
a couple of miles away, we were shaken, I can imagine what the rats
in the nest are feeling as the ground above them really rattles.”
“You know, my head's been filled with pop cultural references all morning
long. I just remembered the one from Police and Sting. You know, there
is speculation that bin Laden, because
he is so sophisticated, is monitoring Western news organizations with
a satellite dish and may indeed be watching this broadcast right now.
If he is, remember that Sting lyric, ‘Every move you make, every step
you take, we'll be watching you,’ Osama….
think the noose is tightening. These Mujahideen freedom fighters, helped
by the plastering that bin Laden and the terrorist thugs have been getting
all night long from our B-52s and fighter bombers - it's only a matter
of time, Rita, and I want to be there - I want to be there for the final
wrote these reports all by himself.
is awash in honors, including one from the National Puerto Rican Coalition.
Prior to his latest Afghan adventure, Rivera
was lauded by the coalition as “an inspiring example of the significant
contributions that Puerto Ricans are making at every level of American
and Geraldo. As we used to say, they’re both “a credit to their race.”
Check out the Fairness and Accuracy in Reporting web site. They do
a link to a site with some witty remarks about Condoleezza and her tanker.
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