Dump Condi?

According to Insight Magazine, conservatives are “revolting” against Secretary of State Condi Rice because she has “hijacked” the Bush agenda:

The conservatives, who include Newt Gingrich, Richard Perle and leading current and former members of the Pentagon and National Security Council, have urged the president to transfer Miss Rice out of the State Department and to an advisory role. They said Miss Rice, stemming from her lack of understanding of the Middle East, has misled the president on Iran and the Arab-Israeli conflict.

“The president has yet to understand that people make policy and not the other way around,” a senior national security policy analyst said. “Unlike [former Secretary of State Colin] Powell, Condi is loyal to the president. She is just incompetent on most foreign policy issues.”

The criticism of Miss Rice has been intense and comes from a range of Republican loyalists, including current and former aides in the Defense Department and the office of Vice President Dick Cheney. They have warned that Iran has been exploiting Miss Rice’s inexperience and incompetence to accelerate its nuclear weapons program. They expect a collapse of her policy over the next few months.

“We are sending signals today that no matter how much you provoke us, no matter how viciously you describe things in public, no matter how many things you’re doing with missiles and nuclear weapons, the most you’ll get out of us is talk,” former House Speaker Newt Gingrich said.

Miss Rice served as Mr. Bush’s national security adviser in his first term. During his second term, Miss Rice replaced Mr. Powell in the wake of a conclusion by the White House that Mr. Bush required a loyalist to head the State Department and ensure that U.S. foreign policy reflected the president’s agenda.

“Condi was sent to rein in the State Department,” a senior Republican congressional staffer said. “Instead, she was reined in.”

Mr. Gingrich agrees and said Miss Rice’s inexperience and lack of resolve were demonstrated in the aftermath of the North Korean launch of seven short-, medium-, and intermediate-range missiles in July. He suggested that Miss Rice was a key factor in the lack of a firm U.S. response.

“North Korea firing missiles,” Mr. Gingrich said. “You say there will be consequences. There are none. We are in the early stages of World War III. Our bureaucracies are not responding fast enough. We don’t have the right attitude.”


A major problem, critics said, is Miss Rice’s ignorance of the Middle East. They said the secretary relies completely on Undersecretary of State Nicholas Burns, who is largely regarded as the architect of U.S. foreign policy. Miss Rice also consults regularly with her supporters on the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, Chairman Richard Lugar and the No. 2 Republican, Sen. Chuck Hagel of Nebraska.

The critics said Miss Rice has adopted the approach of Mr. Burns and the State Department bureaucracy that most—if not all—problems in the Middle East can be eased by applying pressure on Israel. They said even as Hezbollah was raining rockets on Israeli cities and communities, Miss Rice was on the phone nearly every day demanding that the Israeli government of Prime Minister Ehud Olmert exercise restraint.

“Rice attempted to increase pressure on Israel to stand down and to demonstrate restraint,” said Stephen Clemons, director of the American Strategy Program at the New America Foundation. “The rumor is that she was told flatly by the prime minister’s office to back off.”

The critics within the administration expect a backlash against Miss Rice that could lead to her transfer in wake of the congressional elections in 2006. They said by that time even Mr. Bush will recognize the failure of relying solely on diplomacy in the face of Iran’s nuclear weapons program.

“At that point, Rice will be openly blamed and Bush will have a very hard time defending her,” said a GOP source with close ties to the administration.

I am going to be blunt here and just say outright that I think this report is utter garbage. First of all, Gingrich’s comments–which were made during an appearance on Meet The Press two weeks ago–are taken completely out of context and worked into the story to give the impression that he thinks Rice is inexperienced, lacks resolve, and that he personally has urged the President to replace her as Secretary of State. As far as I know, none of this is even close to being an accurate.

So given the twisting of Gingrich’s words, I’m not going to waste any more time delving into this story because the obvious motivation behind it is to create a controversy where none exists. There is absolutely no indication that there is a conservative “revolt” against Condi Rice. Period.

That having been said, I am beginning to wonder whether Insight Magazine is the conservative’s version of truthout. A publication that’s willing to print just about anything so long as it guarantees some attention. Remember when Insight reported that Dick Cheney was leaving after the ’06 midterms? Or when Insight claimed that Karl Rove was planning to “blacklist” Republicans that disobeyed the administration? Or when Insight painted Bush as a recluse that refused to talk anyone except “Laura Bush, his mother, Barbara Bush, Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice and Undersecretary of State Karen Hughes”?

All ridiculous, that’s true. But as they say, there’s no such thing as bad publicity.

FILED UNDER: Congress, Intelligence, Middle East, , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,
Greg Tinti
About Greg Tinti
Greg started the blog The Political Pit Bull in August 2005. He was OTB's Breaking News Editor from June through August 2006 before deciding to return to his own blog. His blogging career eventually ended altogether. He has a B.A. in Anthropology from The George Washington University,


  1. Anderson says:

    Well, Rice’s incompetence is hardly surprising, but I have to commend her on the quality of her enemies.

    Tinti, the fact of the story’s publication shows that some Republicans are indeed pushing against Rice. Your examples of previous Insight articles help to establish that point: e.g., “Cheney to leave after ’06” is either a story pushed by anti-Cheneys within the White House, or a trial balloon sent up by Cheney’s camp. The fact that it’s not true doesn’t mean it’s not news, if you read between the lines. Kremlin-watching in the U.S.A., if you will.

    There would seem to be very little reason to doubt that Rice in her efforts towards diplomacy has antagonized the Cheney/Perle-types. It would be news if she had not done so.

    Probably also there’s jealousy at work; some stories suggest that Bush has cooled towards Cheney, and Bush’s personal rapport with Rice seems to be as strong as ever. We know that whom Bush is friends with, pretty much determines whom he listens to.

  2. Not unlike the Harriet Miers situation, a Bush pal has been tagged by a group of neocons for rejection. While this may be full scale speculation, it isn’t an impossibility given the neocon agenda goes back some thirty plus years to Team B and they believe they are close to finalizing their influence on foreign policy.

    One is inclined to wonder if the delay in U.S. efforts to broker a cease fire in the current Middle East conflict between Israel and Hezbollah is an indication of a waning confidence in the direction of the efforts of the Secretary of State as well as some further expanding neoconservative influence with the President. The fact that the administration has indicated that there must be an enduring solution rather than any rapid efforts to negotiate a cease fire seems to support the neoconservative belief that threats must be dealt with from a position of strength…even if that includes a lengthier period of military engagement. The delay in dispatching Rice to the region seems to be significant.

    Read the full article here:


  3. Zelsdorf Ragshaft III says:

    Anderson, for you to state you know how decisions are made by this White House, without having worked there is presumptive. What those who disagree with Mr. Bush need to do, is run for office, particularly the Presidency, then they can run their mouths. Bush is the President, he makes the decisions, as so far he has not been influenced by polls, thank God.

  4. Anderson says:

    Anderson, for you to state you know how decisions are made by this White House, without having worked there is presumptive.

    Zelsdorf, my sources are no less veracious than your sources for Israel’s ability to impose the gov’t of its choice on Syria.