Condi Rice on Obama

I couldn't help enjoying Rice's genuine excitement about Barack Obama's victory.


Joan Walsh
November 6, 2008 12:49AM (UTC)

Am I a total sap to find Condoleezza Rice's reaction to Barack Obama's victory moving? She looked like a little girl on Christmas. She looked 20 years younger, at least. That grim mask of determination and repression was gone.

Asked about the election results, she made unsurprising but pleasant remarks about the greatness of this country: "You just know that Americans will not be satisfied until they do form that perfect union." Then she added: "I just want to close on a personal note: As an African-American, I'm especially proud, because this is a country that's been through a long journey, in terms of overcoming wounds ... That work is not done, but yesterday was obviously an extraordinary step forward."

Advertisement:

It wasn't really what she said, but the look on her face as she said it. A genuine grin kept breaking through the mask. Her eyes were glistening. She couldn't contain her excitement, though she was trying.

I've always thought it important, in trying to understand Rice, to remember she was raised in the viciously segregated Birmingham, Ala., of the 1950s and '60s. She was friends with Denise McNair, one of the "four little girls" killed in the bombing of the 16th Street Baptist Church in September 1963 (and why don't we remember that as a domestic terror attack?), when Rice was only 9. I've thought it helped explain, though not excuse, her conservatism, and her cleaving to strong white mentors through her career. When she made that infamous slip and called George W. Bush "my husband," I winced for her; I didn't see it as sexual, but as an unconscious yearning for the family and stability she's never had, which she found in the Bush White House, sad as that is.

I know, plenty of people who grew up where and when she did were radicalized by it instead, and devoted their lives to civil rights and social justice. I know, she bears enormous responsibility for the nightmare of the Iraq war. But since this is a day to appreciate the opening to change that Obama's election creates, I think it's a day to be happy to see Condi Rice happy, and to hope she puts her experience and intelligence to work undoing the wrongs of the Bush administration.

Watch the video:


Joan Walsh

Joan Walsh is the author of "What's the Matter With White People: Finding Our Way in the Next America."

MORE FROM Joan WalshFOLLOW joanwalshLIKE Joan Walsh

Related Topics ------------------------------------------

2008 Elections Barack Obama

BROWSE SALON.COM
COMPLETELY AD FREE,
FOR THE NEXT HOUR

Read Now, Pay Later - no upfront
registration for 1-Hour Access

Click Here
7-Day Access and Monthly
Subscriptions also available
No tracking or personal data collection
beyond name and email address

•••






Fearless journalism
in your inbox every day

Sign up for our free newsletter

• • •