Thursday, February 10, 2005

Face of the Administration

More Ash:

Yet there's no doubt that the new US secretary of state has conducted an impressive charm offensive during her lightning tour of Europe. She has presented a more elegant face, spoken a more nuanced language and played a sweeter mood music than those whom most Europeans have come to associate with the Bush administration over the past four years.

It has been pretty surprising to me that the European press, which was no friend of Rice up to a month or so ago, has been fairly universal in praising her visit as the warming of relations between the two sides of the Atlantic. Colin Powell was easily the most respected member of the administration in international circles during the last term, and he put a friendly, multilateral facade on a unilateral, occasionally beligerent administration. So while Powell was often lauded for breaking from the Bush administration's talking points, it is Rice the loyal who is now being praised for thawing of relations. Why would that be? The answer, of course, is in the tragic story of Powell. While he was rightly recognized as a moderate and as being somewhat of a dove, the world knew that he only spoke for himself, whereas Rice speaks for Bush. When Rice speaks in conciliatory tones, it means something. The tragedy of Powell is that he was merely a 'nice' guy railing against the hawks in the administration, and who didn't have enough spine or a loud enough voice to make a difference in the cabinet.

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