Uh oh. Condi Rice is in trouble. Her boss, President George W. Bush, just said publicly what a great job she is doing. That’s what he always says just before he fires someone.
At a press conference Monday in Crawford, Texas, Bush answered a question from a reporter who wanted to know if he had talked to the heads of state in the Israel-Lebanon conflict. Bush replied:
Because Condi is handling those conversations, and she’s doing a fine job of doing so.
A little less than a year ago, Bush was letting another of his appointees, FEMA Director Michael Brown, handle things after Hurricane Katrina flooded New Orleans and destroyed much of the Gulf Coast and, after touring the devastation, Bush said:
Brownie, you’re doing a heck of a job.
A few days later, Brown was on the street.
In 2004, Bush publicly praised CIA Director George Tenant, saying the embattled intelligence agency head was "doing an incredible job." A week later, Tenant was out of work.
So if Condi Rice is as smart as everyone claims she is she must be looking over her shoulder a lot these day. To make matters worse, Insight Magazine, a conservative rag published by the ultra-right-wing New World Communications, reports Condi and Bush are at war with each other over the Administration’s Middle East policy.
Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice has become increasingly dismayed over President Bush’s support for Israel to continue its war with Hezbollah.
State Department sources said Ms. Rice has been repeatedly stymied in her attempts to pressure Israel to end strikes against Hezbollah strongholds in Lebanon. The sources said the secretary’s trip to the Middle East last week was torpedoed by the Israeli air strike of a Lebanese village in which 25 people were killed.
"I’ve never seen her so angry," an aide said.
The U.S. response to the Israeli-Hezbollah war was said to have divided both the administration as well as the family of President George W. Bush. At the same time, it marked the first time since Ms. Rice became secretary of state that the president has overruled her.
"For the last 18 months, Condi was given nearly carte blanche in setting foreign policy guidelines," a senior government source familiar with the issue said. "All of a sudden, the president has a different opinion and he wants the last word."
Rice has never been popular with the right-wing extremists who dominate the Republican Party and the Insight story may be part of the campaign to force Bush to fire her. The magazine report is correct when it says the President always wants to have the last word.
And, in this case, the last word just may be: "Goodbye."