Monday, July 24, 2006

The mean face of American politics

I have almost never seen Condoleeza Rice smile. I guess I'm just lucky that way. Whenever I see her on the television news or in online news articles, she always seems to be frowning or grimacing or just looking mean and ornery. Seems to me that, when the U.S. has a shrinking list of close friends and allies around the globe, we'd want our leading alternative to President George W. Bush's face to be friendly and open.

Don't get me wrong. The President is usually looking a little friendly and open...maybe a little too open...but he obviously has his detractors in the Democratic party. But they don't say many bad things about Condoleeze Rice. At least, I hardly ever see them say anything bad about her. She seems to have an anti-Democrat propaganda coating or something.

Condoleeza Rice puts on the mean look in January 2006 In a "Whatchoo talkin' 'bout, Mr. D?" expression, Condi Rice managed to almost look humane at some brouhaha conference in January. When interacting with her fellow diplomats, Secretary Rice seems to put on a very imposing air...some people would say she is arrogant. I think she is just trying not to reveal too much about her inner conflicts and emotions. She holds back so as not to seem vulnerable. Perhaps.

Almost graciously accepting an award from the NAACP, Condi gives the press another opportunity to make her look inhuman to an unsuspecting public.Even while accepting an award from the prestigious political/social organization the NAACP, Condoleeza Rice managed to stop and grimace in apparent embarassment. Does she not like the limelight? One wonders if she likes her job.

President Bush gives newly appointed Secretary of State the traditional air-kiss congratulations.When Condi accepted the position of Secretary of State, she looked just absolutely thrilled to be appointed to follow in Colin Powell's footsteps. Or maybe she was trying to think about how she could wheedle her post into a sex-magnet reputation the way Henry "power is the ultimate aphrodisiac" Kissenger did.

Frankly, I think she looks like she would rather have been kissed by a pumpkin at that moment in time. But it's been noted by more than one blogger that the Bushes, who genuinely seem like good people, are a bit offsetting. Laura Bush, in particular, has been criticized for using closed, reserved body language when interacting with the public.

First Lady Laura Bush and Secretary of State Condoleeza Rice aim their phasers at wide-ranging targets during a panel discussion. When the First Lady and the Secretary get together, how much are they really together? They are looking at different people in this picture where they seem to be genuinely laugh and smile. Mrs. Bush has her hands crossed in front of her, like she is trying to control herself. Condoleeza's hands are hidden below the table. There is a sense of total disconnect here, as in the picture where Mr. Bush kisses Condi.

I have to agree with the U.S. ambassador to the United Nations that it doesn't seem possible to be able to negotiate with a terrorist organization like Hezbollah. Their purpose in existing is to destroy Israel. How do you negotiate with someone who wants to destroy you? When Europe tried that policy in the 1930s, it was called "Appeasement", and Neville Chamberlain will always be remembered for foolishly saying there would be "peace in our time" on the eve of World War II.

Secretary Rice greets Prime Minister Siniora of Lebanon in July 2006 as Israel and Hezbollah behave like Lebanon doesn't exist.Still, if you examine this picture of Condoleeza and Lebanese Prime Minister Siniora carefully, you'll notice that he is a being a gentleman and is leaning over the table to shake the Secretary's hand. Their smiles seem almost genuine, but his reveals some stress. I think he'd rather be eating raw cabbage at the moment, but that's just me. And if he doesn't want to be in that meeting, his feelings more likely have something to do with the situation back home.

Hezbollah is about the worst possible enemy Lebanon could have right now. Yes, Hezbollah operates social services and feeds the poor. They also hide missiles and weapons in the homes of civilians and don't care how many civilians die in their insane crusade to destroy Israel. Frankly, Lebanon would benefit more from trying to raise wild hyenas than taking up arms for Hezbollah.

Still, the Lebanese people have a right to make their own stupid choices. If they want to support Hezbollah, then they are in no position to be asking the United States for help. Condoleeza seems to be projecting that message subtly. In other pictures with diplmats where she actually smiles, Condi stands beside the diplomats. Here she waited until there was a table between her and the Prime Minister (okay, maybe she has no control over the photo op schedule -- maybe he was the one who wanted the barrier).

She is shorter than the Prime Minister, so he has to extend his hand into her territory to welcome her to Lebanon. But he is nonetheless barely in the picture. The photographer was more engrossed with Condoleeza than with the moment.

Condoleeza Rice greets Hu Jintao of China.When Condi met Hu Jintao, she shook his hand and smiled. She even faced him, although she was standing slightly in front of him. In politics, where formal state dinner seating is arranged on the basis of who is not presently killing whom, position and proximity mean everything.

China has the ability to lob nuclear missiles at the United States. Lebanon is known here mostly for its Middle Eastern cuisine and the fact that Hezbollah killed over 200 U.S. marines in 1982 with a truck bomb. So President Bush has graciously sent Condoleeza Rice to Lebanon so that she can tell the Prime Minister in no uncertain terms that the United States won't cut off arms shipments to Israel until Hezbollah stops firing rockets into Israel.

In a rare moment of honest clarity, many Arab leaders briefly condemned Hezbollah for attacking Israel unexpectedly. It has been noted by the American media that the sentiment expressed by those Arab leaders will probably erode, if it hasn't already, as the amount of human suffering in Lebanon increases. Of course, you hear little to no sympathy for the many Israelis (Jewish and Arab) who have been forced from their homes by Hezbollah's crusader rockets.

It's obviously okay in the Arab world for murderous organizations to butcher innocent Arab children. After all, you don't see much outrage across the Arab world for all the car-bombings in Iraq that target innocent civilians, many of them children. It's like all the militant Arabs are determined to fight the U.S. by killing as many Arab children as they possibly can. Somehow, that stretegy seems worthwhile to the crusaders in Hezbollah, Hamas, and Al-Qaeda.

Is there any wonder why they can't win wars?

But the real sad aspect to all this is that the United States just doesn't act like it really cares, either. We present a mean face to our friends, we stand in front of them, we hog the pictures, and we don't act like we want the fighting to stop.

You know, I'd rather see Hezbollah get trashed than continue to send rockets into Israel, but if they would all just stop killing each other, things would improve very quickly. The Arabs in Palestine, Lebanon, and Iraq could flourish if they focused their efforts on building up their economies. All the energies they put into hate, prejudice, and racism would be better spent preparing their children for the future.

If Condi were just a bit more warm and open, maybe she would get that message across instead of the "We're so big and we don't have to care about you" message that seems to radiate from every photo op,


Anonymous Anonymous said...

Why would the United States want these wars to end? Halliburton, Bechtel, General Dynamics, and other major defense contractors are cleaning up. Their stock is going through the roof as their profits go up. Since the largest stockholder in Halliburton sits in the second office at the White House, and is clearly the architect of the Iraq War, how can he not cheer when other wars around them break out.....he and his friends are cleaning up...the cost American lives and injuries....... but then review all our wars and see how many were encouraged by defense industries at the expense of American lives, and how many of these wars were started by Presidents who have never had to fight in a war and see first hand the devastation it causes..... besides as long as we do cost plus, no bid contracts how can the Big Boys of Defense lose?

11:09 AM  
Blogger Michael Martinez said...

The close ties between the American military leadership and the defense industry are well documented. Many retiring generals and admirals end up working in the defense industry.

However, the U.S. Congress has authorized our nation's actions in Iraq and Afghanistan. While the endorsement of the administration's Iraq policy remains divided mostly along party/partisan lines, your position implies that far more than Vice President Cheney have a financial interest in seeing wars prolonged.

I don't agree with that assessment. The defense industry lost numerous huge contracts (especially the Crusader mobile artillary project) when Bush-Cheney came into office.

A number of people whom I've met, who claim to know or have met both the President and Vice-President, have fewer good things to say about the Vice-President than about the President.

I'm not in a position to judge them, but I will not be swayed by the propaganda campaigns published by both the Republicans and Democrats. Neither party can be trusted to disclose the full truth, and many Americans who oppose the War in Iraq do so largely because they have bought into a pack of lies and propaganda from untrustworthy sources like Michael Moore.

Regardless of whether President Bush made the best decision possible at the time, I don't see any credible evidence that he went into office looking for a way to start a war with Iraq.

The financial ties and motivations line both sides of the aisle. Both Democrats and Republicans share equal blame for the corruption and shady politics that drive our country's foreign policy.

10:32 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

You got to believe that Bush always made the best decision because he listen to God, and God told him so. If it turned out bad then it must be God's fault. For those people who keep pointing at Michael Moore's propaganda should watch the rebutal film "Bush: Faith in the White House". At least Moore's film is more entertaining and Moore had never tried to claim that his film is completely serious, full of facts.

9:12 AM  
Blogger Michael Martinez said...

No one has to believe anything coming out of the political propaganda machines. But they exist because people obviously do believe at least some of what they hear. If we draw too many sweeping generalizations about the influence of propaganda, it could be rightfully said we're not giving everyone a fair shake.

So I'll concede that I beileve most people reserve some doubt in their minds, or at least leave some room for doubt. But it's far easier and more effective to make an untrue accusation or insinuation than it is to rebut one.

6:55 PM  

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