Democrats for Rice

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Swamphopper at The Rough Woodsman wonders if the insistence on Condi Rice testifying for the 9-11 commission will draw more support and understanding for the Bush Administration, as similar moves did for the Reagan and Clinton Administrations with the testimonies of Colonel Oliver North and President Clinton, respectively. Will it spark the oft-speculated campaign of Dr. Rice into the presidency in 2008, as those who most hate Hillary have been publicly hoping? Film at 11.

I'm looking forward to her testimony. I think she may be the smartest person in any president's cabinet during my lifetime, and I think it was politically unwise for those who merely want to make this administration look bad to insist that she of all people testify. Of course, those who just want to get to the bottom of things will be much rewarded. Her testimony is the closest thing you'll get to an intellectual's presentation of what sort of reasoning moves President Bush, and therefore it's what I really want to hear.

Oh, and the tradition defense did seem reasonable to me. Political advisors are neither elected nor appointed to a legally recognized position. They've never testified in front of any Congressional commission, and this doesn't seem too different except in the national security urgency of some of the issues involved. Condoleeza Rice has no legal power or authority in any sense. I can understand full well why they would want to ensure that it doesn't set a precedent. So I believe her that she very much wanted to testify but was resisting based on those reasons. She probably wanted the chance to respond officially to thinks she thought were at best exaggerations and distorted impressions. Well, now she gets it. We'll see what happens.

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A couple of reasons why:

1) Condoleeza Rice is more than likely to be the highest ranking official that the commission could pressure into appearing in an open, public session.

2) She therefore represents the biggest opportunity to make the administration look bad, for those that want to make the administration look bad.

3) For others, it provides a necessary counter-balance in the public debate to Richard Clarke's testimony.

4) While Condi Rice is certainly intelligent, she has generally shown herself to be politically naive and media unsavvy, and is targeted for those reasons by Democrats.

For me, the most significant part is #1. I am tired of the Bush Administrations attitude towards the 9/11 commission. Compare it to the subsequent handling of the Discovery tragedy, where the resulting investigation not only received all sorts of expedited help from NASA but also a $50 million dollar budget to only $14 million for the 9/11 commission. The bizarre refusal to declassify any sentence mentioning Saudi Arabia, along with hundreds of other memos, emails and documents; the repeated denial of the commissions request for increased budgets; the constant refusal by high ranking officials to appear publicly; Every time that the administration hides behind 'executive privilige', not to mention the initial position that a commision wasn't necessary, only make the administration look bad.

Do you want to know what a really politically unwise action would look like? How about a political convention in NYC within weeks of the third aniversary of 9/11 where the victims families are protesting outside the convention hall? Because that is what the Bush re-election effort is looking at right now. And that is why Condi Rice has to testify, even though it may be "reasonable" to claim that she doesn't.

The claim was that she doesn't legally have to testify. It's an entirely different matter whether she has to testify if the Bush Administration wants to make its case to retain political support. I think you're right that they needed to have her do this, but it's a political need, not a legal requirement.

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