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January 19, 2005
Opening Her Mouth And Removing All Doubt (Updated!!)

Sometimes I wonder if Barbara Boxer ever listens to herself and cringes. If so, yesterday certainly provided opportunities for winces galore as the senator from California kept providing evidence of her status as one of the least intelligent members of the upper chamber. In just her opening statement for her portion of Condoleezza Rice's confirmation hearing, she managed to embarrass herself and her constituents multiple times:

Dr. Rice, before I get to my formal remarks, you no doubt will be confirmed -- that's at least what we think.

We think there's no doubt? And her favorite color is plaid, too.

And if you're going to become the voice of diplomacy -- this is just a helpful point -- when Senator Voinovich mentioned the issue of tsunami relief, you said -- your first words were, "The tsunami was a wonderful opportunity for us." Now, the tsunami was one of the worst tragedies of our lifetime -- one of the worst -- and it's going to have a 10-year impact on rebuilding that area. I was very disappointed in your statement. I think you blew the opportunity. You mention it as part of one sentence.

So not only does Boxer deliberately misinterpret the word "wonderful" as a qualifier to "tsunami" instead of "opportunity" unlike any rational interpretation of that phrase, she admits that she took the quote out of context. In fact, Rice never said "wonderful opportunity" at all. Here's what she said about tsunami relief:

We're spending billions to fight AIDS and tuberculosis and malaria and other diseases, to alleviate suffering for millions and help end public health crises. America has always been generous in helping countries recover from natural disasters and today we are providing money and personnel to ease the suffering of the millions afflicted by the tsunami and to help rebuild those nations' infrastructure.

I've searched the entire transcript for the words tsunami, wonderful, and opportunity, and Rice simply never made the statement Boxer alleges. She lied. (Updated below!)

And I would hope to work with you on this, because children are suffering, we're worried they're going to get in the sex trade.

"Get into" the sex trade? We're worried that they will be stolen and forced into the sex trade. However, since the sex trade happens to be one of California's leading industries -- they produce about 90% of all the pornography in the US -- I think Boxer may have wanted to soften her stance on the issue.

I am -- Dr. Rice, I was glad you mentioned Martin Luther King -- it was very appropriate, given everything.

There's nothing like a rich white woman giving her approval of a black woman's reference to Dr. King to define the term "limousine liberal."

And one of the things that matters most to my people in California and the people in America is this war in Iraq.

Now, it took you to page three of your testimony to mention the word "Iraq." You said very little really about it, and only in the questioning have we been able to get into some areas. Perhaps you agree with President Bush, who said all that's been resolved. I'm quoting today's Post: "Bush said in an interview last week with the Washington Post that the '04 election was a moment of accountability for the decisions he made in Iraq." But today's Washington Post/ABC poll found that 58 percent disapprove of his handling of the situation, to 40 percent who approve -- and only 44 percent said the war was worth fighting.

Well, which is it, Senator? Because we held this really big poll in November with a sample size of 120 million voters, and they re-elected George Bush 51-48. Either your poll numbers are off, or it's not the biggest issue on the mind of American voters. Since the Democrats and John Kerry made the election all about Iraq, I'd say that Bush has a fair interpretation on the meaning of his victory.

I don't know if you saw the movie, "The Fog of War" -- war is a nightmare, you know that. Colin Powell I think was the most eloquent I've heard on it, because he's seen it himself -- he's been there and done it. And I don't want to have you in a circumstance where you're writing something years later about the fog of war.

Another California industry reference that explains Barbara Boxer: everything she knows she learned from the movies. Perhaps Boxer doesn't understand that Rice wasn't the Secretary of Defense, although she can be excused on this point, as none of the Democratic senators were briefed on this point. One after the other, they grilled Rice on troop levels as if she was a member of the military chain of command. She kept telling them that her job did not involve that kind of analysis, but by God they had someone on the stand they could use to score cheap shots, and all of them took that, er, wonderful opportunity to do so.

Perhaps the people of California will review this transcript and understand what an idiot they have representing them in the Senate. Unfortunately, the people of Minnesota have the same problem with their senior Senator as well. I hope that we react better in 2006 than Californians did in 2004.

UPDATE: My good friend Xrlq was certain that he heard Boxer's statement, and did a little research. It turns out (shockingly!) that the New York Times transcript was incomplete -- so Boxer didn't flat-out lie. However, it really looks even worse when you see the CNN transcript:

VOINOVICH: ... I think what we're doing in the tsunami right now is wonderful. I think it's -- but we have got to show people that we love them, that we are for democracy, that we want them to enjoy the same thing but we haven't any hidden motives. What are you planning on doing in that area to respond to that?

RICE: Senator, first of all, I do agree that the tsunami was a wonderful opportunity to show not just the U.S. government, but the heart of the American people. And I think it has paid great dividends for us.

Rather than a characterization of the tsunami as a "wonderful" thing belonging to Rice, it's clear that the characterization was Voinovich's -- and Rice couched her answer around the parameters of his question. It's also quite clear to everyone with half a working cerebellum that what both meant was that the opportunity to respond was wonderful, and not the tsunami itself. Boxer didn't lie about the existence of the statement, but she certainly and dishonestly micharacterized it completely. One wonders why Senator Voinovich didn't correct the record.

And never trust transcripts from the New York Times. Apparently they can't even take dictation straight.

Sphere It Digg! View blog reactions
Posted by Ed Morrissey at January 19, 2005 12:45 PM

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