"Condoleezza Rice may be willing to compromise at a Middle East negotiating table - but not at a jewelry counter.
Coit Blacker, a Stanford professor who is one of the secretary of state's closest friends, recalls going into a shop where Rice asked to see earrings. The clerk showed her costume jewelry. Rice asked to see something nicer, prompting the clerk to whisper some sass under her breath.
Blacker remembers Rice tearing the woman to shreds.
"Let's get one thing straight," he recalls her saying. "You are behind the counter because you have to work for minimum wage. I'm on this side asking to see the good jewelry because I make considerably more."
A manager quickly brought Rice better baubles.
Glenn Kessler recounts the tale in his penetrating new bio, "The Confidante: Condoleezza Rice and the Creation of the Bush Legacy." Kessler, a Washington Post correspondent who enjoyed unprecedented access to his subject, says Rice has lost none of her bluntness, once cutting off bulldog Donald Rumsfeld in front of startled Japanese counterparts. But she's also worked hard to soften her edges.
Her top aide, Jim Wilkinson, decreed that she shouldn't be photographed alone, but rather in the convivial company of other people. They may have tried hard to thaw her image when she showed up at an Air Force base in Germany dressed in a black, knee-high skirt and saucy knee-high boots. "With one arm stretched out, she looked like a cross between Mussolini and Liza Minnelli," Kessler writes.
The media ignored President Bush and ran pictures of Condi in those kitty boots. Later, when Rice asked Wilkinson what the fuss was about, he bashfully explained, "Men like these." Rice leaned in and whispered, "We know that."
She does let her hair down. Once at a party Blacker threw, Condi kicked off her shoes and started dancing. Wanting to show his partner how firm Rice's behind was, Blacker postulated that if he aimed a quarter at her butt, it would bounce right off like a rocket.
"He was right," says Kessler. "[Rice] didn't realize what he had done until everyone was laughing hysterically. She was flattered and proud."
And while Bush sometimes introduces her as "the most powerful woman in the history of the world," he also considers her "like my sister." Thus, at a briefing, he skipped over the gory details of the rape and torture committed by Saddam Hussein's sons, explaining: "I didn't want to say [those things] in front of Condi."
The St. Martin's book, which also details Rice's plan "to salvage the last 18 months of the Bush presidency," goes on sale next Tuesday.
Posted by Anna, a resident of the St. Claire Gardens neighborhood, on Aug 31, 2007 at 5:58 pm
This gossipy stuff isn't really very interesting except to people who are already haters of the person or administration in question. I remember when Clinton was in office and we had all the right wing stories about ice-queen Hillary and how she wouldn't allow eye contact by her staffers, how she abused the White House military aides and so on.
Posted by Anna, a resident of the St. Claire Gardens neighborhood, on Aug 31, 2007 at 6:17 pm
You miss the point entirely, Dr. F. I have little doubt that the vignettes you describe occurred, just as the stories about Hillary probably have some truth to them.
I just think they're of very little interest except to those of you with an ax to grind - or who just enjoy celebrity gossip. Your "war criminal" remark only reinforces this. Maybe you ought to check out Entertainment Tonight.
Posted by Chris, a resident of the Downtown North neighborhood, on Aug 31, 2007 at 9:51 pm
One can recognize the book excerpt as being mere celebrity gossip -- on its face -- but still recognize Rice and her colleagues for what they are. Hen Tai asks what Dr. F will have to complain about once the Bush regime is ended. I'll offer an answer: What this undemocratically installed regime of hubis-infused warmongers has done over the past seven years will leave us with plenty of consequences to complain about from here to eternity.
Posted by Anna, a resident of the St. Claire Gardens neighborhood, on Sep 1, 2007 at 7:26 am
"In his pivotal tell-all book "Unlimited Access," former FBI agent Gary Aldrich relates the rules of conduct instituted in the White House and Old Executive Office Building under the Clinton regime. According to Aldrich, staff members were to clear the hallways when Hillary was out and about. If anyone did happen to meet up with her in passing, they were not to make eye contact with her. In other words, as underlings they were to remain absolutely invisible to her."
Posted by Dr. Ferragamo, a resident of Stanford, on Sep 1, 2007 at 8:44 am
Are you sure normal people take it seriously when a crusty old homophobe like Gary Aldrich claims White House staffers were forbidden to make eye contact with Hillary and "drug paraphernalia and sex toys were put on the White House Christmas tree"?
Aldrich, who spent 30 years with the FBI, the last five as an agent responsible for background checks on White House staff, does not earn much sympathy with this ear-to-the-gutter expose of the Clinton administration. Other books, such as Roger Morris's Partners in Power (LJ 8/96) and Meredith Oakley's On the Make (LJ 7/94), detail the rudeness of the Clintons and the people that surround them, but <b>Aldrich lashes back at the lack of cooperation he received with repetitive character assaults, allegations, and blanket condemnations. Former White House Counsel Bernard Nussbaum is a "short, pushy, dissembling New York lawyer." Vincent Foster, with whom Aldrich had some contact, was not likely depressed because Aldrich didn't notice it. (Neither did Foster's best friends, including the Clintons). Hillary Clinton, "Mrs. President," was in charge of all hiring and preferred "tough...lesbian women...and gay men."</b> The book concludes with the background investigation of the Clintons that Aldrich would have submitted had he been given the opportunity. Not surprisingly, it concludes that the Clintons are not fit for the White House. Not recommended."
Posted by DE, a resident of the Adobe-Meadows neighborhood, on Sep 1, 2007 at 12:01 pm
Condi Rice wants power. Power corrupts. Sometimes, when power corrpupts, it corrupts persons whoh are capable of doing extraordinary harm, to a degree greater than most. This is the legacy of Bush and Rice, both very smart people who are *exactly* the wrong persons to have had power, at this time in our history.
They are both an embarrassment and an insult to the great promise that is America.
It's not comforting that they will be remembered as such, because the harm they have done far outweighs the shaudenfruede of historical disgrace that both will surely suffer.
WASHINGTON, Aug. 31 — On May 25, Stanford University’s student newspaper, The Stanford Daily, devoted the bulk of its front page to the university’s former provost, who is on leave while she serves out her term as secretary of state. “Condi Eyes Return,” read the headline, “but in What Role?”
Within hours, the letters to the editor started coming in. “Condoleezza Rice serves an administration that has trashed the basic values of academia: reason, science, expertise, and honesty. Stanford should not welcome her back,” wrote Don Ornstein, identified by the newspaper as an emeritus professor of mathematics in a letter published May 31.
Online comments on the newspaper’s Web site were even harsher, a veritable stream of vitriol. One of the milder posts came from Jon Wu, who did not give an affiliation: “Please go away, Rice. We don’t want someone who is responsible for the slaughter of an entire nation teaching at our school.”
It seems her handlers want to shield Condi from the stain of another murderous attack on another innocent population; but notice how her handlers are preventing her from going public with this stand against attacking Iran.
When the time comes, as in the 2008 or 2012 presidential election, Condi can claim she advised against nuking millions of human beings to death.