Rice points with pride in her 1995 book Germany Unified and Europe Transformed to the success of our “democracy-building” in Germany after World War II. Presumably if it were not for our reconstruction of the German psyche in the image of our social engineers, we’d now be seeing a new Hitler swallowing up countries in Central Europe. Instead the Krauts have been turned into lobotomized antifascists who follow our lead and do nothing conspicuous to assert their national identity.
Some of Rice’s beliefs have come from her experience growing up in Birmingham, Alabama. This is what Rich Lowry explained in his 2005 column “Rice on Tour,” when he lovingly traced Condi’s desire to impose democracy on Iraq to her youthful support for civil rights in the American South. Why shouldn’t Baghdad be given all the good things the civil-rights custodians brought to Birmingham? From her latest televised speech I learned that her being kept from buying hamburgers at Woolworth’s made her all the more eager to succeed in life. It also strengthened her idealism.
Would it be inappropriate to compare Condi’s having been denied burgers in Birmingham to Hitler’s failure to win acceptance as an artist? In both cases unfair treatment turned talented people in a new direction, with grave consequences. What would have happened if the Birmingham hamburger-flippers had allowed a young black girl to munch on their products? Would she have become less of a missionary for neoconservative political goals? If so, I must deplore the rudeness of those narrow-minded hamburger cooks who paved the way for her screwball foreign policy.
Condi is not the only loose screw in the GOP policy community, but she holds a special place as a black woman who supposedly succeeded despite the odds. And compared to the yammering American “exceptionalist” Sarah Palin, Condi is a person of quality. She can form coherent sentences and move easily beyond sound bites. With her combination of intelligence and black female Republican exceptionalness, the former secretary of state could guide her party toward sanity in international affairs.
But she said nothing unconventional to the shouting, grunting, one-note GOP delegates and convention attendees, whom I watched last week with both amusement and disgust. Despite her cadenced speech, she sank to the platitudinous level of the neoconservative-constructed mannequin who is the party’s presidential nominee. In view of this disappointing performance, I think about those juicy hamburgers that were denied her in Birmingham. If only it had worked out differently.
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