The article, “Humoring Condi” focused on the legacy of the Secretary of State, Condoleezza Rice, and her single focus on arriving at a peace deal between Israel and Palestine by the end of President Bush’s term.
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This, according to Washington Post Staff writers, Kessler & Abramowitz (2007) her goals proved to be contradictory to the aims of President Bush who has stated that he has no aim to force any peace agreements between Israel and Palestine. This has caused some of the leading officials and stakeholders to be apprehensive with regards to the peace talks in that they feel that President Bush has no vested interest in seeking peace in the Middle East and has not been vocal on the topic.
One of the most disturbing points the article makes is the fact that Ms. Rice has taken a position wherein she would side with the Palestinians for the cause. One of her top aides on Middle East affairs reportedly conveyed this to the investigative reporter and indicated that Ms. Rice was forced to take a step back when Vice President Cheney, then-Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld, and other conservative Republicans promptly pointed out the fact that taking sides would be contraindicated.
One poignant point made by the investigative reporter was the fact that the stance taken by President Bush proves to be contradictory to that of the former President, President Clinton. President Clinton, during his eight years as President, made seven visits to the Middle East to bring about peace in the Middle East. President Bush thus far has only made one visit to the Middle East and his efforts in attempting to achieve peace within that region of the world have been disjointed at best.
Froomkin goes on to describe Ms. Rice’s legacy thus far as one that is plagued by the late arrival in the peace process. She is seen as unprepared to deal with the peace talks since she had strategically ignored the gravity of the situation between Israel and Palestine throughout her term as Secretary of State.
In many instances, she was caught off-guard and was left to falter. One example of this can be seen in the wake of the January 2006 Palestinian elections when Hamas claimed an unprecedented victory. This was immediately followed by the resignation of the Palestinian Cabinet.
Another example can be seen in the fact that Ms. Rice was extremely apprehensive about calling a cease-fire when Israel was embroiled in a war with Lebanon and Gaza. He, however, points at these two incidents as the lowest point in her involvement in the peace talks and views her as taking many measures to restore her credibility.
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He describes her as recently being an active participant in the peace process and stepping up to the plate when her predecessors and other individuals in influential positions have systematically and categorically failed at even recognizing the need to bring peace to the Middle East.
Froomkin paints a picture of Ms. Rice as being the polar opposite of President Bush and quotes another writer, Elisabeth Bumiller as saying
Condoleezza Rice and President Bush are often described as opposites, but their closest advisers say they are remarkably alike. Both are products of their elites — Mr. Bush from the old East Coast establishment, Ms. Rice from Southern black professionals — who are supremely self-confident on the surface but harbor resentments underneath. Ms. Rice, like Mr. Bush, has been underestimated her entire life, as an African-American, as a woman, and often as the youngest person in the room (Bumiller, 2007).
Overall, it has been popular consensus that the unusually tight bond between Ms. Rice and President Bush has served to facilitate her ability to sway the president and influence his stance with regards to diplomacy with Iran and North Korea. She, however, has not been able to influence him to take a more active role in the formulation of a peace treaty in the Middle East. It has been pointed out that Ms. Rice’s tight bond, however, serves to her detriment in that she is unable to take a strong stance in times when she opposes the president. This has served to decrease the efficacy of my role as the Secretary of State.
The article goes on to examine the critical nature of arriving at a resolution of peace in the Middle East. According to Mr. Froomkin, it is vital for the talks between Israel and Palestine to yield a consensus with regards to the division of the territory, the borders of Palestine, the status of Jerusalem, and the rights of Palestinian refugees to take up residence inside Israel. These are vital areas and the settlement of the stalemate which existed between Israel and Palestine for decades. In recent weeks, President Bush has been made to see the importance of settling this conflict especially instead of the administration’s efforts to end the war in Iraq and affect a successful withdrawal from the region.
It is just a matter of defining the Presidency of President Bush and the eight years spent by Ms. Rice as Secretary of State and the National Security Adviser.
Mr. Froomkin was very deliberate in painting a picture of Ms. Rice and her attempts at establishing peace throughout the war-torn regions of the world. He described her attempts at ending the war in Iraq as feeble and insinuates that her failure as the Secretary of State especially in light of the current state of Iraq has been one that will remember for quite some time. He was adamant with regards to the notion that the current status of Iraq is such that her attempting to bring forth any efforts to end the war will be an exercise in futility. Instead of those efforts, it is prudent that she attempts to mitigate the damages by limiting their efforts to short-term and realistic goals. These goals include the passage of a $48 billion Iraqi budget. This budget is well on its way and can be achieved within the limited time Ms. Rice has as Secretary of State under the Bush administration.
In his article, Mr. Froomkin is seen as attacking Ms. Rice on every aspect of her involvement in international policies and procedures.
He paints a picture of a grossly incompetent official who has failed to take an active role in negotiating a peace treaty between Israel and Palestine as well as not aiding in arriving at a resolution in Iraq and hindering the efforts of stabilization in Afghanistan. Overall, he paints a picture of someone incapable of handling the job she has been hired to do. He leaves an image of a woman who is inexperienced, incompetent, and exploitative.
She is seen as exploiting her relationship with the president for the mere illusion of power. He paints a truly unfair picture of impotence and ignorance that should not be tolerated and uses the accounts of his fellow journalists—some of which I’m sure are taken out of context.
Overall, this article is symptomatic of the image painted of women throughout history. Women were portrayed as being too naive to take an active role in politics and to be able to render valid opinions. They were systematically portrayed as being capable of rearing children and taking care of the homes of their male counterparts. Froomkin has systematically set out to paint a picture of Ms. Rice as nothing more than an ignorant African-American from the South who is essentially impotent when it comes to the role of the Secretary of State. She is viewed as being one of the staunchest supporters of the President and one who has always stayed close to him sought his approval and was in the position she was in solely because of her relationship. Never once did her qualifications [both educational and experiential] come into play in Mr. Froomkin’s critique of her accomplishments as the Secretary of State. I’ve personally looked at her résumé and it is impressive. I’ve listened to her speak and she does an excellent job in conveying her thoughts. She is eloquent.
The article as extensive as it was only served to illustrate the evident bias of Mr. Froomkin as it relates to the ability of Ms. Rice to effectively and efficiently serve as Secretary of State. He establishes a profile of Ms. Rice as one that is stereotypical of African-Americans and women. He portrays her as still clinging to the slave-master mentality wherein she is seen as providing unconditional support for the President even though he is wrong. This is seen especially in light of the peace talks between Israel and Palestine. She desperately wants to forge a peace treaty while the President’s agenda, according to Mr. Froomkin is different. Instead of standing up for what she believes, Ms. Rice is seen as cowering whenever her beliefs conflict with that of the President. This to me illustrates the subservient view of Ms. Rice even though she possesses a great deal of knowledge and experience.
Ms. Rice again is unfairly portrayed outside of the context of her employment.
She is seen as someone who has obtained her job not based on the merits of her education and experience but based on the fact that she has had a long-standing relationship with the President.
She is not being respected as a formidable college and a competent strategist when it comes to dealing with international relations. Much of this can also be traced to the traditional stereotypic images of women.
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Women were traditionally viewed as mindless drones who took directives from their male counterparts.
The women’s movement has served to eliminate much of this preconception but I feel that some of it remain.
Finally, I feel that the title says it all “Humoring Condi” speaks for itself. It states that Ms. Rice has no real decision-making power on matters of international affairs and relations. She is given a title and is forced to abide by the agenda of the President and the other conservative Republicans. She is no different than the women in the past. Historically, women had been treated as the property of their husbands and have had to earn the right to vote. Much of the treatment of Ms. Rice in this article is significant of that time.
This article is illustrative of the fact that women have been systematically treated as brainless drones irrespective of their accomplishments. In my opinion, this article serves as a grave insult to women everywhere and should be regarded as a trivial new article—one that is plagued with conjecture and unworthy of being new.
- Bummiller, E. (2007). President Bush and ‘Madame Rice’: A Personal Bond Helps Align Policy. Web.
- Froomkin, D. (2007). Humoring Condi.
- Kessler, G. & Abramowitz, M. (2007). Eyes Will Be on Bush At Talks on Mideast: Delegates to Gauge President’s Support For Rice’s Efforts. Web.