Wednesday, November 17, 2004

Nov 17/05 - On Condi Rice's Nomination: What is in it for Hugo?

PMBComment: On the day after Condoleezza Rice was nominated to be Secretary of State, I will let the principals do the talking:

George W. Bush [Formal nomination announcement, 11/16/04]: “During the last four years I've relied on her counsel, benefited from her great experience and appreciated her sound and steady judgment. And now I'm honored that she has agreed to serve in my Cabinet. The Secretary of State is America's face to the world. And in Dr. Rice, the world will see the strength, the grace and the decency of our country.”… “Above all, Dr. Rice has a deep, abiding belief in the value and power of liberty, because she has seen freedom denied and freedom reborn.”

Hugo R. Chavez [Radio Program, 01/10/04]: “"[Condoleezza Rice] is a real illiterate; I have no other word to describe her. I am going to tell Fidel [Castro] to send her the Robinson method [literacy program implanted in Venezuelan with Cuban advice]. This woman comes and releases her indignant artillery against Venezuela, against our people, against our government. Saying among other stuff that Chavez has to respect the referendum, in the first place: what the hell do you have to do with a referendum in Venezuela…..She [Rice] comes and says yesterday that they continue to be concerned; that I will have the opportunity to demonstrate if I am following the rules of democracy, so that they can declare me a democrat, why should I care a hoot how they qualify me there?; I do not give a damn, absolutely nothing bothers me”. [Alo Presidente, 01/11/04] “[Rice] came out to applaud the coupsters here, and to welcome the tyrannical government that they installed. Is Ms. Rice a real democrat? Or, is she one of those hypocrites Pharisees that Christ singled out with his verb: hypocrites Pharisees Christ our Savior would say.”

Condoleezza Rice [Interview, 10/23/04]: “I think President Hugo Chavez is a real problem. I think he will continue to find ways to subvert democracy in his own country. He will continue to find ways to make his neighbors miserable. He will continue his contacts with Fidel Castro, maybe giving Castro one last fling to try to affect the politics of Latin America, which is not a good thing. He's involved in ways in Colombia with the FARC (Marxist rebels) that are unhelpful. The key there is to mobilize the region to both watch him and be vigilant about him and to pressure him when he makes moves in one direction or another. We can't do it alone. This is a region where if we try to do it alone, we actually probably strengthen him. But the OAS (Organization of American States) can do a lot. We're hopeful that the recognition that he's not following a democratic course will help mobilize the OAS to do that. They have done it before -- with Peru they did it. Watching his activities and making it costly at least politically for Chavez to carry out anti-democratic activities either at home or in the region is really about where we are.”

News Item BBC [Group of Rio Meeting,11/06/04]: He [Hugo Chavez] also mentioned a letter [interview above] in which White House National Security Adviser Condoleezza Rice attacked him. Even with the Brazilian position at stake, Lula responded in a conciliatory tone. "Look, Chavez, don't worry about that letter, because they talk badly about me over there in English and I prefer the good things they say about me in Portuguese," he said. The Brazilian president then related how, in his recent 90-minute meeting with US Secretary of State Colin Powell, he spent half-an-hour talking about "everything good that Chavez has done for Venezuela's poor". The Venezuelan president thanked him. [Note: Hugo Chavez failed, among other harebrained initiatives, to get the Group of Rio to issue a declaration denouncing Dr. Rice].

Enough said…more to come? PMB

Below, transcript of President Bush’s statement when announcing Dr. Rice’s nomination.

President Announces Nomination of Condoleezza Rice as Secretary of State
The Roosevelt Room

12:33 P.M. EST

THE PRESIDENT: Good afternoon. I'm pleased to announce my nomination of Dr. Condoleezza Rice to be America's Secretary of State. Condi Rice is already known to all Americans, and to much of the world.

During the last four years I've relied on her counsel, benefited from her great experience and appreciated her sound and steady judgment. And now I'm honored that she has agreed to serve in my Cabinet. The Secretary of State is America's face to the world. And in Dr. Rice, the world will see the strength, the grace and the decency of our country.

Both Condi and I have been proud to serve with our friend, Secretary of State Colin Powell. He has been one of the most effective and admired diplomats in America's history. Secretary Powell has helped to rally the world in a global war, has helped to resolve dangerous regional conflicts; he's helped to confront the desperate challenges of hunger, poverty and disease. He has been tireless and selfless and principled, and our entire nation is grateful for his lifetime of service.

I'm also grateful that Steve Hadley has agreed to become my new National Security Advisor. Steve served Presidents Nixon, Ford and Bush before me, and he has done a superb job as Dr. Rice's deputy during these past four years. Steve is a man of wisdom and good judgment. He has earned my trust and I look forward to his continued vital service on my national security team.

When confirmed by the Senate, Condoleezza Rice will take office at a critical time for our country. We're a nation at war; we're leading a large coalition against a determined enemy; we're putting in place new structures and institutions to confront outlaw regimes, to oppose proliferation of dangerous weapons and materials, and to break up terror networks.

The United States has undertaken a great calling of history to aid the forces of reform and freedom in the broader Middle East so that that region can grow in hope, instead of growing in anger. We're pursuing a positive direction to resolve the Arab-Israeli conflict, an approach that honors the peaceful aspirations of the Palestinian people through a democratic state, and an approach that will ensure the security of our good friend, Israel.

Meeting all of these objectives will require wise and skillful leadership at the Department of State, and Condi Rice is the right person for that challenge. She's a recognized expert in international affairs, a distinguished teacher and academic leader, and a public servant with years of White House experience. She displays a commitment to excellence in every aspect of her life, from shaping our strategy in the war on terror, to coordinating national security policy across the government, to performing classical music on stage. Above all, Dr. Rice has a deep, abiding belief in the value and power of liberty, because she has seen freedom denied and freedom reborn.

As a girl in the segregated South, Dr. Rice saw the promise of America violated by racial discrimination and by the violence that comes from hate. But she was taught by her mother, Angelina, and her father, the Reverend John Rice, that human dignity is the gift of God, and that the ideals of America would overcome oppression. That early wisdom has guided her through life, and that truth has guided our nation to a better day.

I know that the Reverend and Mrs. Rice would be filled with pride to see the daughter they raised in Birmingham, Alabama, chosen for the office first held by Thomas Jefferson. Something tells me, however, they would not be surprised. (Laughter.)

As many of you know, Condi's true ambition is beyond my power to grant. (Laughter.) She would really like to be the commissioner of the National Football League. I'm glad she's put those plans on hold once again. The nation needs her. I urge the Senate to promptly confirm Condoleezza Rice as America's 66th Secretary of State.

Congratulations. (Applause.)

DR. RICE: Thank you. Thank you, Mr. President. It has been an honor and a privilege to work for you these past four years, in times of crisis, decision and opportunity for our nation. Under your leadership, America is fighting and winning the war on terror. You have marshaled great coalitions that have liberated millions from tyranny, coalitions that are now helping the Iraqi and Afghan people build democracies in the heart of the Muslim world. And you have worked to widen the circle of prosperity and progress in every corner of the world.

I look forward, with the consent of the Senate, to pursuing your hopeful and ambitious agenda as Secretary of State. Mr. President, it is an honor to be asked to serve your administration and my country once again.

And it is humbling to imagine succeeding my dear friend and mentor, Colin Powell. He is one of the finest public servants our nation has ever produced. Colin Powell has been a great and inspirational Secretary of State. It was my honor to serve alongside him, and he will be missed.

It will, of course, be hard to leave the White House, and especially to leave behind the terrific NSC staff who have served their President and their country so ably in this most challenging of times. Yet, I can leave confident in the knowledge that they will be led by the consummate professional, a man I know and admire, my colleague and friend, Steve Hadley.

Finally, let me say that in my 25 years of experience in foreign affairs, both in and out of government, I have come to know the men and women of the Department of State. I have the utmost admiration and respect for their skill, their professionalism and their dedication. If I am confirmed by the Senate, I look forward to working with the great people of the Foreign Service and the Civil Service. And one of my highest priorities as Secretary will be to ensure that they have all the tools necessary to carry American diplomacy forward in the 21st century.

Mr. President, thank you again for this great opportunity, and for your continued confidence in me.

THE PRESIDENT: Good job. Thank you all.

END 12:40 P.M. EST