Rice sails while Kerry rails

By Tim Grieve

Published January 19, 2005 4:59PM (EST)

The Senate Foreign Relations Committee has just given its blessing to Condoleezza Rice's nomination as Secretary of State. The committee voted 16-2 in favor of her nomination; the only "no" votes came from Barbara Boxer, who took Rice to task Tuesday for misrepresentations about weapons of mass destruction, and John Kerry, who grilled Rice late into the night on a broad range of foreign policy issues.

Unlike the hearing for Attorney General nominee Alberto Gonzales, which focused almost exclusively on his performance as White House Counsel -- in particular, his involvement in legal opinions on torture and the applicability of the Geneva Conventions in the war on terror -- the Rice hearing dealt mainly with her future plans for the Department of State. Aside from Boxer, few Senators spent much time questioning Rice about her involvement in the war on Iraq, and Rice's dissembling about the warnings Bush received about terrorists attacks before 9/11 got little if any attention.

But that's not to say that all Democrats are willing to put the past behind them. Bush may insist that the voters ratified his Iraq policies in November, but Kerry, for one, isn't buying it. On Monday, he renewed his call for the ouster of Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld.

Tim Grieve

Tim Grieve is a senior writer and the author of Salon's War Room blog.

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