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Remember When Condoleezza Rice Was Called a ‘House Nigga’?



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That didn’t take long. U.N. ambassador Susan Rice has yet to be nominated as secretary of state, but prominent Democrats are already denouncing opposition to her potential nomination as racist on the basis of remarks by Republican senators that she may not be qualified for the job. Would that they had been so sensitive to racial overtones back in 2004, when the African-American nominee for secretary of state, the Republican Ms. Rice, was denounced on the Senate floor and pilloried in racialist cartoons.

Rice’s nomination, noted the Washington Post, garnered “the most negative votes cast against a nominee for that post in 180 years.” As the Senate debated her nomination, Senator Barbara Boxer charged that Rice “frightened the American people” into supporting the Iraq War; Senator Jim Jeffords accused her of being part of an effort to “distort information” in the service of “political objectives”; and Senator Pat Leahy, who voted in her favor, endorsed her by saying that her tenure as national-security adviser lacked “strong leadership, openness, and sound judgment.”  

But the remarks of Senate Democrats paled in comparison to the material served up by America’s humorists. Syndicated cartoonist Ted Rall depicted Rice proclaiming herself Bush’s “house nigga.”

Rall’s depiction was followed months later by that of Jeff Danziger of the New York Times Syndicate. Danziger drew a big-lipped, barely literate Condoleezza Rice, nursing the aluminum tubes cited by the White House as evidence of Iraq’s pursuit of nuclear weapons.

By all accounts, the Democratic Ms. Rice has received far more delicate treatment at the hands of politicians and the media. During an otherwise uneventful stint as ambassador to the United Nations, she is now under fire for attributing the Benghazi attacks to “a hateful and offensive video” on five Sunday morning news programs. In the wake of these comments, Senator John McCain described her as “not being very bright,” and stated that, “if she didn’t know better, she’s not qualified” to be secretary of state. Senator Lindsey Graham noted, “I don’t trust her,” and that “if she didn’t know better, she shouldn’t be the voice of America.”#more#

MSNBC executive and former Newsweek White House correspondent Richard Wolffe spent Monday night parsing the aspects of John McCain’s racial animus. Wolffe seemed even to surprise host Chris Matthews — not exactly shy about identifying racism in the GOP — who asked, incredulously, “You’re saying that McCain is being driven by racial prejudice here?” According to Wolffe, “There is no other way to look at this.”

Matthews pointed out the seemingly inconsistent fact that McCain supported Condoleezza Rice’s nomination to the State Department, but Wolffe easily saw past that. McCain’s support for Rice in 2004, he explained, is further evidence of his racism. “John McCain said the people — the Democrats who were questioning Condi Rice’s credential — they were just engaged with bitterness, they needed to move on,” Wolffe said. “Why has he changed his tune? What is it about Susan Rice?” The question, obviously, is rhetorical.

Wolffe is not alone. Ohio congresswoman Marcia Fudge noted sorrowfully, “It is a shame that anytime something goes wrong, they [Republicans] pick on women and minorities.” South Carolina congressman Jim Clyburn took things a step further, telling CNN on Tuesday that he hears racial “code words” in Republican opposition to Rice’s nomination. Those are words such as “incompetent.” “These kinds of terms that those of us — especially those of us who were grown and raised in the South — we’ve been hearing these little words and phrases all of our lives and we get insulted by them,” Clyburn said.

And hey, what’s being called a “house nigga” when there are racists lurking out there using code words like “incompetent”? 



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