Man Without Qualities

Sunday, April 04, 2004

On Oozing Expertise And Sincerity

There is at last some tentative indication that some Republicans are waking up to the Carnival of the Bigotries some Democrats may be trying to make of the 9-11 Commission:

"The woman oozes expertise and sincerity," said former Republican National chairman Rich Bond. "I'm glad the White House came around to allow her to say publicly what she's already told the commission privately. The old adage is, 'Get it out, get it out, get it out.' If the Democrats want to slap around an African American woman, let them try."

Let them try indeed.

UPDATE: The New York Times is trying to make a case for just such a slap-around, and thinks that the Commission's likely finding that the September 11 disasters were "probably preventable" will be a big deal.

But I don't think it's going to play that way. To begin with, Richard Clarke testified before the Congress and Commission privately a while ago - and the Commission had a chance to ask Ms. Rice about her story and his. Assuming his testimony then is consistent with what he says now, where's the room for major new questions, at least from the Commission members who bothered to attend Ms. Rice's private session? Moreover, the Commission chairman has already stated in public that Ms. Rice was very forthcoming and helpful when she spoke in private - and that the Commission has no problems with what she said then. And if someone on the Commission does get nasty, Condi Rice is very smart and very good at slapping back in a very ordered and professional way that palys pretty well on camera from what I've seen.

We'll have to see what actually comes out at the hearing, but it's pretty old news that had the intelligence services been able to "connect dots" and share information that more might have been done. I don't think more of that kind of 20-20 hindsight second-guessing is going to mean much. But it also would likely focus more public attention on what legal restraints there were on the intelligence community - and what kind of legislator favors that kind of restraint. That won't be good news for most Democrats. And then there's the identity politics blow-back that Chairman Bond notes.

No, I don't think this is going to go the New York Times' way at all.

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