At the hearings for Condoleeza Rice's nomination for Secretary of State, Senator Barbara Boxer said the following:
Dr. Rice, I was glad you mentioned Martin Luther King -- it was very appropriate, given everything.
Maybe this slipped most people's radar because of her offensive comments later on, particularly her flat-out assertions that Rice had made repeated claims to the American people that she knew were far from the truth. This was one of the few clips they kept playing on the cable news channels as a sign of the congenial part of Boxer's advising and not consenting. Not one person saw it as condescending or patronizing. Should they have? I think it depends on what 'everything' refers to, but the most obvious answers seem patronizing to me.
Here are some options:
A. It was appropriate given that she's black.
B. It was appropriate given that she's experienced serious racism in her past.
C. It was appropriate given her location at the time King was most politically active.
D. It was appropriate given the time of year we're in now.
E. It was appropriate given some combination of the above.
F. It was appropriate given [pause ... I can't think of anything to say here that's not patronizing, so I'll say] everything.
I think we can see F as hiding something that she knew sounded patronizing, which isn't that good. E depends on what the components are. A and B seem the most patronizing to me. They assume, as far as I can tell, that someone like Rice might not like King because he was liberal, which is just nuts and insulting to all black conservatives. It's as if she's surprised that someone who is black and faced racism but also conservative would mention King in such a way. "Oh, it's good that you at least realize that black people should like King".
C isn't as bad, but it's close enough to B that I'm not sure it avoids the patronizing feel. The only one of these that I can get a grip on as not sounding condescending in any way is D. But I can't think of why she would abbreviate D with 'everything'. I don't think putting any of these together helps, because that just heaps insult upon insult, so E isn't any better.
I'm trying to be charitable, but I can't think of anything else. If it's F, then she might have been going to say something like A, B, or C, realized that it sounded patronizing, and replaced it with 'everything'. That makes sense to me but indicates that she wasn't thinking very carefully and barely caught herself. I'm not having an easy time coming up with a more charitable reading than any of these. Any thoughts?
Update: I forgot one of the ones I'd been thinking about.
G. It was appropriate given that you're conservative.
Since that has the same result as some I've already discussed, I think it's safe to assume that it would be patronizing.