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Condi’s Moment- be careful what you wish for lefties


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March 31, 2004, 8:19 a.m.

Condi’s Moment

Liberals prove to be short-term thinkers.

By Mark Goldblatt

The archetypal liberal is the guy who, every morning, drops a dollar in the lap of the homeless man camped out in front of his apartment building and who, every evening, blames conservatives for the fact that there's a homeless man camped out in front of his apartment building. In other words, liberals don't think things through; they opt for gestures, knee-jerk reactions that feel good, without the slightest consideration of long-term consequences.

Such was the case in their demand that National Security Adviser Condoleezza Rice testify, under oath and in public, before the 9/11 Commission. Now their demand has been met. Testify she will, even though there's no compelling reason for her to do so; indeed, she's already testified — albeit not under oath — for four hours in private session before the commission. There's not a shred of evidence she lied.

Even in the wake of former counterterrorism adviser Richard Clarke's damaging charges that the Bush administration was asleep at the wheel before September 11, 2001, the White House was reluctant to let Rice testify publicly under oath because of the dual principles of executive privilege and separation of powers; if Rice's testimony creates a precedent for presidential advisers being summoned to appear before legislative committees, then future advisers might become less likely to provide presidents with frank and forthright counsel.

The liberals insisting Rice testify thought nothing of such principles. They knew only that Bush was against it, so they were for it. Whatever it takes, as long as they were sticking it to the president.

Now the liberals will get their wish: Dr. Rice will tell her side of the story, under oath, in public. And with the suspense that's already gathering around her appearance, it will be a hit. The rest of the nation will soon discover what careful observers of the Bush's inner circle already know: Rice is the most poised, articulate, and convincing speaker in the entire administration. She will mop up the floor with Clarke.

Want a "for example"? In his tell-all book, Clarke asserts that the first time he mentioned al Qaeda to Rice, in January 2001, "her facial expression gave me the impression that she had never heard the term before." Except in October 2000, Rice gave a radio interview in which she discussed al Qaeda. So much for facial expressions.

Not only will Rice make short work of Clarke, she will emerge from the hearing with conservatives flinging themselves at her feet, begging her to run for president in 2008. (There's already a website devoted to her potential candidacy even though she's said, on multiple occasions, she has no interest in the office.) And it would serve liberals right if she did decide to run, for Rice would be their worst nightmare. She would win the women's vote outright, peel away half the black vote, and set back the Democratic party for a generation.

But that's not the kind of thing liberals concern themselves with. Right now, they got her to testify. They stuck it to Bush.

It sure must feel good.

— Mark Goldblatt is the author of Africa Speaks. His website is MarkGoldblatt.com.

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