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Look at Rice as if she were in your party

Detroit Free Press November 23, 2001


If she weren't a Republican, we black folks would be praying for her strength and celebrating how happy the elders must be looking down on her.

Just imagine, a little black girl who grew up in segregated schools in Birmingham, Ala., who became provost at Stanford University.

Who became a figure skater.

Who became a concert pianist.

Who speaks four languages, including Russian.

But since she is a Republican, Condoleezza Rice is not getting her due.

We can be so partisan sometimes that we forget to celebrate the monumental.

And Rice's role in government is monumental.

The 47-year-old national security adviser, the first woman and African American ever to hold the post, is a buoy in the middle of a storm -- constant, assured and the reason I have been less worried about the decisions that President Bush has had to make since Sept. 11.

It was so easy to be dismissive of Bush and his entire cabinet in the weeks after the November election, an issue that seemed so important then and so incidental now.

November 2000 was a lifetime ago, 4,000 lifetimes ago.

Now, we praise Colin Powell as African Americans' greatest hope for a national leader who looks and behaves like us, despite his party. But we forget that Powell isn't the only black person who has the president's ear. As a matter of fact, according to news reports, Rice is closer.

Hard worker

We've paid little attention to the seasoned intellectual, and that's a shame, because she is an expert on the former Evil Empire that we now play nice with and she has the hardest job in the world, according to those who know.

Oh, it's OK to say it. We know how hard it is. She has to explain foreign policy to a former Texas governor whose struggle with global affairs and pronunciation of foreign countries has been the butt of jokes.

Rice has had to synthesize and lay out in layman's terms the crux of centuries-old beliefs and battles. And she's had to do it on the run.

In the weeks since Sept. 11, it has been Rice taking the podium at press conferences to discuss the current state of affairs. Her ability to mold a maelstrom into manageable storms has never been more needed than at a time when its citizens are getting a lesson on foreign terrorists.

Last year, "The Nation" said Rice would be "rock-star big." That she hasn't says more about our inability to let go of politics than her place in history.

Give her credit

A woman called me this week, madder than hell that Bush appointed a homeland security czar when he already had a national security adviser. I shared her thoughts with an insightful colleague who reminded me that the national security adviser's job is bigger than terrorism.

National security is more than making sure we can fly safe and open our own mail.

It has been, since it was created by President Dwight Eisenhower in 1953, the position held by the president's go-to person on global affairs.

If former Pennsylvania Gov. Tom Ridge had been named anti-terrorism czar, much as we've had drug czars in the past, maybe that woman wouldn't have thought Rice was being shafted.

More important, if Rice was working for Al Gore, then the nation's first black national security adviser might be on posters and on our tongues.

Maybe we need to take another look.

And celebrate achievement, not lament defeat.

-- (, December 18, 2001



-- Cherri (, December 18, 2001.

I agree with that.

-- Peter Errington (, December 18, 2001.

Condoleeza Rice is an impressive woman and we will welcome her to the Democrats when Jim Jeffords recruits her. In the meantime, we have Mary Frances Berry and Joycelin Elders!

-- (Algernon C. Braithewait III @ Cambridge.MA), December 18, 2001.

Elders? A woman who made even the TV couch crowd question the "woman" thing? You got hair my friend.

-- Carlos (, December 19, 2001.

Yep, she's intelligent and talented, but unfortunately that is all being wasted because she made some bad decisions. Working for the oil industry was a major mistake, but the biggest mistake she ever made was deciding to support the Bush administration and his agenda. Serious lack of judgement.

-- (what @ shame.), December 19, 2001.

You go girl!

-- (Michelle, December 19, 2001.

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