Tuesday, May 5, 2009
4th Grader Vs. Condoleezza Rice
"There is no way to view the people who ruled us these past 8 years as anything but monsters," said Princeton University professor and N.Y. Times columnist Paul Krugman last month. While Dick Cheney has been doing countless TV interviews lately defending the Bush Administration's torture tactics, former Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice has taken her act on the road. Rice touched off a media firestorm last week when she told students at Stanford University that "we did not torture anyone." She went on to say that the Bush Administration's actions were legal because, "by definition, if it was authorized by the president, it did not violate our obligations under the Convention Against Torture." But that was just the warm-up. On Sunday, she played to a tougher crowd, the fourth-grade class of the Jewish Primary Day School, located in the nation's capital. Misha Lerner, a 10-year-old boy, asked Rice what she thought about the Obama Administration's remarks on interrogation methods authorized by its predecessors. Rice explained that President Bush was trying to protect the country after 9/11. "He was very clear that he would do nothing that was against the law." She was trying to backtrack form her Stanford remarks that echoed former president Richard M. Nixon's notorious statement, "When the president does it, that means it is not illegal." Rice went on to defend President Bush, and to talk about our international obligations and the need to keep America safe, without making much of an impression on 10-year-old Misha, who was unimpressed. "Well, the answer, it didn't make sense," he said. At least he didn't describe her as a monster, as Professor Krugman so articulately called everyone high up on the Bush Administration torture squad. My question for Rice: "Did we really need to waterboard Khalid Sheikh Mohammed 183 times?" Rice's Magical Mystery Tour continues. Next stop, the Laugh Factory.