[Update: Miss that warm, moist pungence rising around your ankles? Here’s your fix for that:
“I’m going to have a great deal more to say about elevating the issue of human rights in North Korea, which is clearly a priority for the president and Congress,” he said. [N.Y. Times, Helene Cooper]
Exactly how stupid do these people think we are? Condi Rice has scarcely uttered a word about this in four years, has prevented anyone else but the marginalized Lefkowitz from doing so, and has made a cruel joke of the North Korean Human Rights Act by (a) not funding it, (b) locking our embassy gates to refugees, and (c) taking the position that North Koreans in China aren’t refugees without a ChiCom seal of approval. Can we expect more of the same hollow, occasionally caustic, and reliably meaningless rhetoric this Administration sometimes says and sometimes means? Not that the rhetoric bothers me, but talk is cheap. For once, I’d like to see Condi do something that will save just one North Korean life. More here.]
Wow. Just, wow.
SECRETARY RICE: Since Jay Lefkowitz has nothing to do with the six-party talks and I would doubt very seriously that they would recognize the name, no, I don’t think they’re confused.
QUESTION: You don’t think the Chinese (inaudible)?
SECRETARY RICE: No.
QUESTION: (Inaudible) a Boston Journal editorial page doesn’t (inaudible) suggested that he was (inaudible) the Administration.
SECRETARY RICE: Well, I can tell you in no uncertain terms that he wasn’t. He’s the human rights envoy. That’s what he knows. That’s what he does. He doesn’t work on the six-party talks. He doesn’t know what’s going on in the six-party talks and he certainly has no say in what American policy will be in the six-party talks.
SECRETARY RICE: And by the way, the President has spoken as to what our policy is in the six-party talks. I think that’s what —
SECRETARY RICE: I know where the President stands and I know where I stand and those are the people who speak for American policy. [Briefing, en route to Berlin, emphasis mine]
Yes, Lefkowitz broke a Washington rule when he commented on an area beyond his portfolio. But Rice’s offense, by publicly, deliberately, repeatedly, and gratuitously insulting a subordinate, was at least equally severe. And if Lefkowitz’s error was an unguarded lapse of truth, Rice’s error revealed her as mean, classless, immature, and defensive.
This is also very revealing in another way Rice must not have intended. It’s true, of course, that too many people have no idea who Lefkowitz is, which is no accident. His disappearance has been so conspicuous that Christopher Hitchens recently asked what happened to him. That’s because since day one, Lefkowitz has been surrounded by State Department loyalists who’ve watched his every move and muzzled him. When Rice let Christopher Hill sign his worthless piece of paper with the North Koreans, she moved Lefkowitz to the basement office next to this guy. Now that her lousy deal has fallen apart, Rice is feeling prickly, defensive, and besieged by common sense.
Clearly, there isn’t much Lefkowitz can still do inside this Administration. He could do more by resigning and telling the world how marginalized he has been, and by explaining exactly who in this Administration defied the unamimous will of Congress by blocking implementation of the North Korean Human Rights Act of 2004. What a disappointment Condoleezza Rice has been. Her remarkable background had given us such hope that she would be remembered as a liberator. How sad for our country that she chose that day to assure that so many of us would remember her as a shrill, vain enabler of oppressors.