Classless Condi

[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)?


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.

QUESTION:  (Off-mike.)

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 —

QUESTION:  (Off-mike.)

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.


  1. This erases much of the esteem I had for Rice. It took a very big hit due to her being at the helm of this idiocy on Agreed Framework II. Now, to strike at Lefkowitz like this just makes its a very public and open statement of admittence by the administration that all they have said about Human Rights was bullshit…

    ….Just think about it……..To set up an entire office. To publically proclaim its purpose. To sign onto NK Human Rights legislation. As nothing more than a half-hearted ploy to pressure NK to go to the negociation table —- a table at which you would reverse yourself while you backed off sanctions that were working.

    Rice’s comment just exposes the complete bankrupt, now obviously cynical use of NK Human Rights by the Bush administration.

    The word Pathetic is too nice.


  2. Truth prevails over ideology, and certainly over politics, party, passions, and policy. For truth is eternal, while the rest are ephemeral. More power to Jay, I say.

    If “ideologically rigid hardliners” like Bush and Condi can, desperately lunging for some semblance of legacy, squeal and subscribe to “peace for our time,” who’s to say that Lee Myung Bak won’t eventually–say, by the summer’s end–cave in and buy from Pyonyang “peace with honor”? Surely the “General” in Pyongyang (who never served a day in the military) can tame the South Korean lackey, if he can so deftly toy with the American imperialist? And surely the political windfall in appeasing the General is far greater for Seoul than it is for Washington? The current expectation in Washington that the new President to be in Seoul–who faces an unprecedented pre-inaugural Special Prosecutor probe–will stick to principles and stand up to the General throughout his five-year term seems to me unfounded optimism. Joshua seems to be the only one among American Korea-watchers astute enough–or brave enough–to voice skepticism about Lee MB’s propensity for opportunism.