By Alex Distefano
By Scott Snowden
By Anna Merlan
By Steve Almond
By Jena Ardell
By Jon Campbell
By Alan Scherstuhl
By Tessa Stuart
When I read that story, I dismissed it as Rice's petit bourgeois classismat least publicly I did. But a part of me, buried deep inside, was marveling atand I feel very wrong saying thisRice's stones. That was the seed of my fancy, but it bloomed when I found out her dream job was not concert pianist, as I'd heard, but NFL commish. Turns out her dad was expecting a boy, and had plans to raise a linebacker. Instead he got a daughter. But he shrugged it off and decided to teach young Condi everything he knew about the gridiron.
Once I had that knowledge, the calculus of passion began working on me. You mean to tell me this honey spars with Tim Russert, curses out white folks, could initiate a nuclear holocaust, and dreams of being Pete Rozell? Um, tell me again why I hate her guts. Then the math of my heart, so beyond logic, took control of my brain. I could no longer deny the sum, quotient, and dividend: Condi Rice was my goddess.
Conventional thinking holds that, as a man, I should be intimidated by Rice's power. Roughly, the old logic of attraction is that we men liked our women beautiful, blond, and mute. Any demonstration of assertiveness would threaten our own role as the ambitious go-getter, and thus make a union infeasible. But since second-wave feminism, the gender line has blurred. The ascent of woman is slowly chipping away at the single trait men have used to define themselves for aeonsthe ability to dominate women.
My own life is a testament to the new unconvention. I help my girlfriend pick out clothes, make killer Maryland crab cakes, and think of Bridget Jones's Diary (the movie) as high art. When my son was born, my woman went to work while I stayed home guarding over his first year. For sure, I love a dark Guinness, the Dallas Cowboys, and vintage film of the Tyler Rose. But, for me, the ancient scrolls of manhood are useless, as are many of their attendant rules of mating.
And at the end of the day, the beauty that men have for so long prized in women amounts to power alsothe power to produce "beautiful" offspring. When I see Rice holding forth, I don't imagine the pitter patter of pretty children. But I see us siring a black brood of kingmakers. Any woman who can go from segregated Alabama to White House Svengali in one life has got to be working with some killer genes.
I've got a running joke with my girlfriend. It starts in an alternate reality where I'm 20 years older, single, and childless. I've also gone all John Hinckley over Condi Rice, and somehow I manage to finagle my way into a social event where she is a guest. When she's off to herself and no one's looking, I whisper in her ear, "I hate everything you stand for. You take orders from a tribe of orcs who worship the Stone Age and mistake myopia for morality, and brutality for strength. You are a disgrace to your people and their long history of forcing this country to live up to its lofty ideals. Furthermore, you are the most beautiful woman inside the Beltway. Come away with me to a desert island. We will make beautiful arguments together."
Of course there is no alternate reality where anything like this could ever happen. Condoleezza Rice serves at the whim of a bizarro president who has pulled off the trifecta of wrecking the economy, waging a war in Afghanistan, and going off on Iraq before the dust settled in Kabul. She has been a willing participant in our isolation from the UN, and has willingly fed the dogs promoting anti-Americanism.
Worst of all, in the service of Bush, she's proved herself more than willing to obscure the truth. The African uranium hoax was "technically" accurate? But this wasn't the first or even the worst of Rice's prevarications. During one of her early appearances on Meet the Press, Russert went right for home base and asked Rice her thoughts on reparations. Her response was a clumsy attempt at historical revision: "I think reparations, given the fact that there's plenty of blame to go around for slavery, plenty of blame to go around among African and Arab states, plenty of blame to go around among Western states, we're better to look forward and not point fingers backward."
I'm not even for reparations, but that answer was equivalent to saying, "Well, there are four people who were involved in this murder, and since there's plenty of blame to go around, let's not prosecute it." Clearly Rice is smarter than that, and her willingness to use her intellect to bend reality pisses me off. It just makes me want to grab her by the arms, shake her, pin her down, and . . . uhh, I have to go now.