The Fabulous Condi v Darth Cheney et al: A Fable From Hindsight

What with the Fabulous Condi ginning up a photo-op-centered “Mid-East Summit” in Annapolis intended to provide pictures-without-words (or results) to make it look like Bush is, you know, doing something about The Palestinian Problem, the NYT thought it would be a good time to excerpt not one but two sections from BushBaby Liz Bumiller’s forthcoming biography of her. Titled Condoleezza Rice: An American Life, Bumiller has apparently found herself a new hero – or, put another way, an extension of her old one.

It seems that Ms B, digging furiously under the surface among the FC’s supporters, has unearthed the untold story of how the FC fought to save us from Dick Cheney’s oil war and single-handedly shifted the Emperor from war-mongering to diplomacy. As Ms B tells it, it is an inspiring tale of courage and good sense in the face of madness as the FC pits herself against the Administration’s self-appointed wild-eyed banshee and eventually brings order out of chaos. *sigh* What a woman!

In August 2002, Ms. Rice went to Mr. Bush to tell him that Mr. Cheney had to be reined in after the vice president gave a speech to a Veterans of Foreign Wars convention in Nashville that effectively threatened war with Saddam Hussein and asserted that there was ?false comfort? in sending United Nations weapons inspectors to Iraq.

?The president said, ?Well, why don?t you call Dick and tell him what you want him to do???said Ms. Rice, who said she told Mr. Cheney that his speech was going to ?trap? the president because Mr. Bush was planning to call for weapons inspections. The vice president, she said, agreed to temper his next speech. Mr. Cheney had no comment on Ms. Rice?s remarks.

All those who remember Darth Cheney “tempering” his language in the run-up to the Iraq invasion, raise your hands. Oh. Nobody? That’s odd.

Notably absent from the FC’s version of events (given personally to Ms B in an interview) in which she portrays herself as the voice of sanity is the minor detail of Herself running around the Sunday talk show circuit blathering about mushroom clouds and the imminent danger from nuclear weapons delivered by what turned out to be balsa wood planes. You know, like the gliders your parents bought you for Christmas when you were 5. That sort of thing doesn’t fit into the FC’s new narrative where she is cast as the Peacemaker & Diplomat, so out it goes, to be replaced with yet more derring-do as the FC takes on Rummy hisself.

In September 2003, Ms. Rice went to Mr. Bush to try to wrest control of the administration?s Iraq policy from Mr. Rumsfeld and L. Paul Bremer III, then the administration?s top civilian administrator in Iraq, whose dictates from Baghdad had frustrated Ms. Rice for months.

?I explained the problem, how we were starting to get decisions out there that we would know after the fact, that had huge policy implications, and we just couldn?t work that way,? Ms. Rice said she told the president, who by October had put Ms. Rice in charge of what the White House called the Iraq Stabilization Group to manage policy during the American occupation.

Missing from Ms B’s stenography reporting is any mention of the fact that if the FC did say such things to a Bush notoriously unfriendly to views other than his own regardless of source, she failed utterly to convince him of any of it. Rummy still ran the war his way and Bremer still gave away $$$BILLIONS$$ to war profiteers without bothering to account for it.

There is about the Fabulous Condi’s self-serving account the stale whiff of hindsight-adjusted story-telling, complete with heroic revisions and it-might-have-been courage squeezed into spaces too small to contain it. Normally, one identifies heroism with some sort of success, but Ms B wants props for the FC because she once may have considered the thought of trying to be courageous (when it wasn’t too uncomfortable) even if those thoughts never translated into action or, indeed, made any difference at all.

Bumiller, who gained fame (of a kind) as one of the NYT’s loudest and most consistent of the paper’s many Bush sycophants, has here transferred her fawning to the FC and is transmitting, Judy Miller-style, the excuses, rationalizations, and fantasies of a failed Bush Admin heavyweight desperate to cover her ass as the presumptions of the neocons she once worshipped disintegrate in the harsh theater of, you know, reality, and doing it as if they were the straight scoop, the dope, the skinny, the Real Truth.

I will leave to others more knowledgeable than I the examination of Ms B’s rendering of the FC’s valiant fight for Peace in the Middle East wherein she is seen giving Ariel Sharon’s senior advisor a verbal paddling for Israel’s siege of Arafat’s compound, after which stern words the Israelis withdrew. (Did they? Seems to me they withdrew only when Arafat was dead, but I’m not an expert.) But one thing is sure: if the Fabulous Condi’s Bumiller-transmitted account of her Mid-East odyssey is as truthy as her account of her pre-war peacemaking, it’ll make a great movie.

Can’t you just see it? Halle Berry as the FC herself, jetting around the world bringing peace and stability to war-torn regions everywhere, even as she tries to balance her global diplomatics with the burgeoning romance and hot affair she’s having with her married boss, played by Tommy Lee Jones. Hell, ABC will want to make a soap opera out of it – Grey’s Anatomy meets The West Wing.

That’s such a seller, you don’t suppose that’s the whole point of Ms B’s book, do you?

Nah. She couldn’t be that…crass. She writes for the New York Times, for gawd’s-sake.

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