Phillip Shenon’s new book, The Commission: The Uncensored History of the 9/11 Investigation, has shed light on the Republicans’ fumbles in the weeks and months before the Al-Qaeda attacks.
But what sort of light does it shed on their chances at re-election?
Only a year or so ago, there was speculation that Condoleeza Rice might be the fresh new candidate the Republicans were looking for – there was even speculation of a Clinton vs Rice election. The notion of two women battling it out for the top job was (sadly) shocking. Too shocking for the Republicans. It’s been easy to see the party’s failure to push Rice as a candidate as a "white male = safe bet" move. But maybe there are other issues at stake.
An extract from Shenon’s book, which is published in Australia by Little, Brown, was printed in the Sydney Morning Herald on the weekend. The extract focused on Rice’s mistakes. It paints a picture of her as willfully ignorant of not only the warnings about the attacks, but about her responsibilities.
Many US media outlets including The Nation are still predicting she could be McCain’s running mate for Vice President. This is, in part, a reflection on the unfortunate demographic nature of representative democracy. In that context, there is a view of Rice as some kind of Republican catch-all antidote for traditional Democratic territory.
Rice herself has consistently played down any proposition of running:
"I have always said that the one thing that I have not seen myself doing is running for elected office," Rice told a recent news conference. "I didn’t even run for high school president. It’s sort of not in my genes."
It may be that she lacks the necessary showmanship or competitive ambition. It may be that she is terrified, like so many bureaucrats before her, that her incompetence would be uncovered were she to be made directly accountable to the electorate.
Or perhaps Condi has been given the role of so many other women in politics – lined up to take the fall for the party’s stuff-ups over 9/11. Time will tell whether Shenon’s book has any impact on an already cynical electorate. Either way it promises to be a chilling insight into the internal workings of Washington.
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