oy, condoleeza
April 14, 2004 12:01 PM

I really don't like Condoleeza Rice. I've seen her on television so many times saying things about Iraq [basically "they love us to bits!"] and the economy [basically "it rocks the socks!"] that don't really jive with the evidence available to the public. The Bush regime may or may not be responsible for the way things are, but all evidence seems to point to the Iraq thing and the economy kindof sucking.

So, if you're going to go on the teevee and say encouraging things, I don't think it's too much to ask for you to support your statements in some way.

Condoleeza isn't the only person in the Bush administration who does this - in fact, it seems to be a characteristic of the administration to be unflinchingly optimistic while simultaneously not sharing any background information that supports their optimism. [They can't all be insane, can they? So this must be some sort of tactic. It must have some purpose.]

So, Kerri's WHB question about Rice this week had me laughing.

What do you think of the way the media is portraying Condoleeza Rice in terms of sex and race?
Do you remember when Rice first joined the administration? There was a lot of talk about her as "slim" and "pretty" and such. Very much "ooo, look at the nice, soft unchallenging black woman, such good eye candy". That irked me. It's a bit like having Halle Berry (who is pretty but not a great actor) win an Oscar - it makes her position so unthreatening, so powerless.

But that seems to have gradually fallen away. I think partly because Rice, despite her dainty suits, very solidly follows the Bush admin's party line, acting very serious while she does it; she's business, not pleasure.

Is the Rice we are being shown a fairly decent reflection of reality, or is her image being spun?
Every political figure is spun. I think 95% of them believe what they're saying and believe they have the best interests of the country at heart, though they disagree on what those interests are. But that doesn't mean they don't use every opportunity to manipulate their image to get something done.

Rice & her people certainly went with the "pretty" thing early in her tenure. I think that made her a more appealing mouthpiece. But now, particularly because the administration seems so unwilling to publically support their assertions about some issues, I think the decision to be more sourpussish was a conscious one - designed to make the mouthpiece more serious. I suspect Rice herself, like most people, is complex enough that both images reflect her real persona to some extent.

What do you think of remarks about how she appears to be a "sourpuss"?
The media favors people who are entertaining or can be quickly pigeonholed into a role or type. It makes for better cartoons.

That said, I think we originally wanted Rice to be this icon of feminity, and she didn't consistently play along with that. And a woman who isn't smiling and agreeable is, by default, a cranky sourpuss.

Is she still an African-American woman, or has she become "one of them" by accepting a role within the government?
I'm sure that Rice sees herself as still part of the black community, she's just part of the black Republican community. Democrats aren't the only ones whose politics benefit black people - particularly not if you're a wealthy black person.

As for women, well, we're the majority in this country. If we actually had a single Woman Party platform, we'd win. But what we actually have is socially conservative, tax-cutting, pro-defense women on one side and socially liberal, tax-cutting, pro-defense women on the other, and a variety of people of widely divergent other opinions on whatever side they like. Women don't generally agree on even the issues I think we should all agree on, so you're hardly not a proper woman for being on the wrong side.

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