We Missed the Point
During Rice's January 2005 confirmations for the post of Secretary of State, Senator Barbara Boxer questioned Rice's loyalty to the truth and received this response from Rice: "I have never, ever lost respect for the truth in the service of anything. . . . I really hope that you will refrain from impugning my integrity." (Reference: Washington Post) Conservatives, of course, seemed to take that to mean that Rice was saying she doesn't lie. Most liberals knew she was simply telling another one and left it at that.
But conservatives and liberals alike missed the point. It is becoming increasingly clear that in the conservative mind, lying doesn't necessarily alter or diminish a person's integrity, particularly if the lie serves the conservative cause. You can be a person of high integrity, as Condi clearly thinks of herself, yet be at liberty to tell lies in service to one's country. Condi wasn't so much defending her truthfulness as she was defending her right to lie to benefit the conservative cause.
Of course there's nothing new about this point. Our society has long since accepted the need for lies in defense of America. The CIA itself is an organization whose primary function is to gather information through deception, take action based on that intelligence, and then lie to conceal their role in those actions. We all know and accept that rather obvious point. In fact this point is one of only a handful of points on which American conservatives agree with the perceptions of the entire rest of the world.
What Rice and the rest of the Bush administration and the Republican Congress have done and are continuing to do is to take that principle and make it the official doctrine for governing the United States of America. Rice's point was that this is now legitimate and even necessary behavior for government officials. People of integrity like hers shouldn't be accused in public of disloyalty.
While I don't buy this Machiavellian viewpoint, we all missed her point when she made this comment to the Senate.