Give Barbara Boxer credit for sparking the most engaged debate that the Senate has yet seen over the Bush Administration lies that led the United States into the quagmire that is Iraq.
Boxer, the California Democrat who has been increasingly vocal in her objections to the Administration’s reign of error and excess, seized the opening provided by President Bush’s nomination of Condoleezza Rice to serve as Secretary of State to try and force a necessary discussion about the misstatements, misconceptions and misdeeds that Rice and others in the Administration used to make the “case” for the invasion and occupation of Iraq. And, to the surprise even of some war foes, she got it.
Yes, of course, Rice’s confirmation was certain. In a Senate where the balance is now tipped 55-45 toward a Republican caucus that for the most part puts party loyalty above duty to country, and where there are still too many Democrats who continue to preach the failed “can’t-we-all-just-get-along” mantra that has relegated the party to minority status, there was never any chance that the national security advisor’s record of failure and deception would prevent her from taking charge of the State Department.
But Rice’s road to Foggy Bottom proved to be far rockier than had been expected. Tuesday’s Senate debate on her nomination was one of the most charged that the chamber has seen in recent years, and while Rice survived, she did not finish the day unscathed. Senator after Senator rose to recall what Senator Edward Kennedy, D-Massachusetts, described as Rice’s “false reasons” for going to war, and to charge, as Kennedy did, that had Rice told the truth “it might have changed the course of history.”
Though he and others were eloquent in their critique of Rice on Tuesday, the person who changed the course of history with regard to the debate over the Bush Administration’s nominee for Secretary of State was not Kennedy, nor West Virginia’s Robert Byrd, nor any of the other more senior senators who ripped Rice. Rather, it was Barbara Boxer, the diligent if not always prominent senator from the Golden State.
When Rice appeared on January 18 before the Senate Foreign Relations Committee on which Boxer sits, it was the California Senator who did the heavy lifting. She began by announcing that, “I will…not shrink from questioning a war that was not built on truth.” And she then detailed the role that Rice played in creating the foundation of lies for the war.