Wednesday, January 26, 2005

What Would it take to get a Bush nominee past Barbara Boxer?

Surely, it should come as no surprise that the Democratic Party has come out flailing at anything and everything that President George Bush seeks to accomplish in his second term. The humiliation, disorganization and dearth of leadership that lead to the Party's November collapse has brought out an inevitable response from its minions: obstinance. Refusing to accept the cold harsh reality that their Party is completely out of step with the American populace, the Democrats are not taking the high ground by working to enable a functioning, bipartisan government. Instead, they have apparently chosen to regress back to their collective childhood experiences as spoiled, mostly privileged brats. Since the adults spanked them in November, they are going to sit in the corner and hold their breath.

Witness Barbara Boxer's recent catfight with the overwhelmingly classy and immanently qualified Condolezza Rice. If it wasn't so outrageously partisan and totally off the hook, it would be downright hilarious. Barbara Boxer, a two-time senator from northern California (not an area known for it's common sense or even its sobriety) sitting there with her Bachelor's degree from - I'm not making this up - Brooklyn College, NY - trying to get into an intellectual joist with Condolezza Rice. Talk about bringing a bong to a gunfight! The unarmed former "journalist" (she actually lists that as her "Previous Occupation") appeared to be trying to get a rise out of Ms. Rice, by not-so-subtle innuendo, that she was a pathological liar.

The moment Mrs. Boxer’s questioning began, she began to lob her verbal spitballs. In her opening preamble (most Senators give opening remarks in these types of confirmation hearings; Boxer’s was a preamble), she started her attack with:

Boxer: "And if you're going to become the voice of diplomacy, this is just a helpful point. When Senator Voinovich mentioned the issue of tsunami relief, you said -- your first words were ‘The tsunami was a wonderful opportunity for us.’ Now, the tsunami was one of the worst tragedies of our lifetime, one of the worst, and it's going to have a 10-year impact on rebuilding that area. I was very disappointed in your statement. I think you blew the opportunity."

Let’s start picking nits, Barb! Everyone knew where Ms. Rice was going with that comment and her words were clear. Boxer then goes on to gratuitously give Ms. Rice some advice on diplomacy. I am sure Ms. Rice was taking copious notes.

Then, as only a Marin County, California bong smoker could do, she gets even more condescending. Remember, now, this is a white, New York, Jewish woman who dares to quote Martin Luther King to a southern Black woman, the daughter of a minister, no less.

Boxer: "Dr. Rice, I was glad you mentioned Martin Luther King -- was very appropriate, given everything. And he also said -- Martin Luther King -- quote, Our lives begin to end the day we become silent about the things that matter. And one of the things that matters most to my people in California and the people of America is this war in Iraq. Now, it took you to page three of your testimony to mention the word Iraq. You said very little, really, about it, and only in this questioning have you been able to get into some areas."

What an truly arrogant thing to say. "My people in California," indeed! Now, imagine the reverse situation. Let’s say a Republican Senator from Massachusetts (isn’t that a fantasy!) was questioning a black female from Alabama and dare have the chutzpah to quote Martin Luther King to the black Democrat. Can you just imagine the howls from the Washington Post and New York Times about the vulgar effrontery of the obviously racist Republican Senator! How dare he?

Admirably, Ms. Rice maintained a much higher tone than her questioner. But, not content with merely making a haughty fool of herself, Boxer continued to bait Ms. Rice throughout her "questioning." Boxer launches into a rant about the Iraq campaign worthy of a full-length Michael Moore documentary. She rambles through an extended soliloquy, quite disjointedly and certainly not with any logical point on the horizon, reading off fact after fact about Iraq and concludes, not with a question but with a rousing "So I am deeply troubled. Thank you."


With that non sequetur, even Boxer's fellow Democrat, Richard Lugar, the amiable, "Can't we just all get along" Chairman from Indiana, tried to bring some sort of closure to the verbal diarrhea. As Ms. Rice was chomping at the bit to get back at this rambling California clown, he steped in attempting to save Boxer from making a complete fool of herself:

RICE: Senator, may I respond?
LUGAR: Yes. Let me just say that I appreciate the importance of Senator Boxer's statement, that's why we allowed the statement to continue for several more minutes (inaudible) time.
BOXER: I'm sorry. I'm sorry. I lost track of the time.

[Yeah, those wacky California chicks!]

LUGAR: But, clearly, you ought to have the right to respond. [You think, Richard?] And then, at that point, we're going to have a recess. But will you please give your response?

After Ms. Rice gave an informed, point-by-point reply to Boxer’s 5 minutes of grandstanding, then came the "money" exchange. Having already exceeded her allotted session time, Boxer clung to the microphone like Bill Clinton to a cigar and launched into another attack. It ended in the following exchange:

BOXER: Well, you should you read what we voted on when we voted to support the war, which I did not, but most of my colleagues did. It was WMD, period. That was the reason and the causation for that particular vote. But again, I just feel, you quote President Bush when it suits you, but you contradicted him when he said, Yes, Saddam could have a nuclear weapon in less than a year. You go on television, nine months later, and said, Nobody ever said it was going to be.
RICE: Senator, that was just a question of pointing out to people that there was an uncertainty, that no one was saying that he would have to have a weapon within a year for it to be worth it to go to war.
BOXER: Well, if you can't admit to this mistake, I hope that you will rethink it.
RICE: Senator, we can have this discussion in any way that you would like. [Claws exposed] But I really hope that you will refrain from impugning my integrity. Thank you very much.
BOXER: I'm not. I'm just quoting what you said. You contradicted the president and you contradicted yourself.
RICE: Senator, I'm happy to continue the discussion. But I really hope that you will not imply that I take the truth lightly. [Claws at the ready]

At this point, the befuddled Lugar stepped in and called a timeout. Boxer had accomplished her goal which was, crystal clear to anyone watching, to grandstand for her pot-smoking, gay-and-proud-of-it, peace-at-any-cost, save-the-whales-and-the-dolphins constituency back in San Francisco. As a bonus, she scored a major coup for any California politician: a comedy skit on Saturday Night Live which, if not quite as cool as actually hosting SNL, is about as good as Boxer can ever hope for. Only really cool Democrats like Bill Clinton and Al Gore (does anyone actually remember him?) can host SNL; but getting your name in a comedy skit is great for "my people in California."

Now, I am convinced of one thing for sure: If the Democrats are putting up this much malarkey and beating their shoes on the desk over someone with Ms. Rice’s qualifications, what chance does any other Bush appointee have? We all know that the Democrats are still having a raging hissy-fit over Bush’s reelection, but does this trump their usual Party checklist of prerequisites for approval of anyone to a government position? I mean to say, that Dr. Rice (yes, Barbara, she has a Ph.D. and you have, well, some degree in something from Brooklyn College) is all of the things Democrats would normally rubber stamp in a heartbeat. Specifically, she is a minority, she grew up in the segregated South, and she is female! For Heaven’s sake, Barbara, what more do you want? Democrats would kill to have someone like Dr. Rice to run for something - anything - in their party.

Can you imagine the questioning of any nominee for the Supreme Court? The only way you could get any nominee past Barbara Boxer and John Kerry would be for the person to be:

1. Ethnic or Racial Minority
2. Female
3. A Democrat
4. Lesbian

Hillary Clinton would look really slim in those long black robes, wouldn’t she?

Addendum (01/26/2005) - We don't need Hillary after all.

Addendum (01/27/2005) - Seems even Californians thought Boxer was a little overmatched! And, in the interest of being "fair and balanced," one Los Angeles columnist defends Senator Boxer.


Blogger DrPat said...

If the Democrats are putting up this much malarkey and beating their shoes on the desk over someone with Ms. Rice’s qualifications, what chance does any other Bush appointee have? Fantastic! But will this resonate with anyone under an age to remember Kruschev's infamous temper tantrum?

Otherwise, bravo!

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