The humane view of Condi's rough start
WASHINGTON — What Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice might say, now that she has been confirmed, if she let her hair down:
The nitpicking gaggle of Democrats who held up my confirmation for a week didn't harm me. The president says I'll make a great Secretary of State. But they did harm the conduct of our foreign policy at a critical moment. The president wanted me on board quickly because of the oncoming Iraqi election. After that we'll be going to Europe to try to squeeze a little support from our so-called allies. And I don't relish the knowing smiles I'll get from the foreign ministers as one who has been called a liar by members of her own Senate.
Sen. Dianne Feinstein, a woman, a Democrat, and a Californian, supported me. I don't know why Sen. Barbara Boxer, a woman, a Democrat, and a Californian, couldn't have done the same, or at least not maligned me.
Now, about those so-called lies that I was supposed to have told about Iraqi weapons of mass destruction and Saddam Hussein's links to Al Qaeda in the run-up to the war.
The truth is that you have to protect your president as conditions change. I don't know when I finally came to realize that there were no weapons of mass destruction and that there was no Osama bin Laden connection, but it simply was not possible to come out, while soldiers were dying, and say we had it all wrong.
I cannot tell you how many meetings I attended where Don Rumsfeld beat the drums for war and Colin Powell said maybe it was too soon. And the president would look at me, and I would remain silent, knowing that the president was tilting toward Mr. Rumsfeld.
And, as conditions changed, the president would call me and ask me to go on television and explain what couldn't be explained without hedging. If you consider that lying, then that is your judgment. I call it loyalty.
And, speaking of Colin Powell, who in his last week in office seemed to keep very busy with Ukraine and other matters, I could have used a little public support from my predecessor while the Democrats were baiting me in the Senate.
But, never mind, I didn't make it from Alabama to the White House and now to Foggy Bottom to be brought down by a couple of ambitious senators now that the polls show support for the war is waning.
Never mind. Life goes on, and we shall overcome.
Let me repeat - that is what Secretary Rice might say.
• Daniel Schorr is the senior news analyst at National Public Radio.