Have a Rice calendar


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What with the approaching “fiscal cliff,” the Israeli-Palestinian conflict (which apparently is Joe Haldeman’s Forever War come to life, so to speak), finals (luckily this week, the DI has been giving undergrads some finals tips, which have pretty much been like encouraging diabetics to indulge in the inevitable holiday sweets), and the inevitable holiday sweets, you’d be excused for not paying attention to Susan Rice.

Who? you say, obsessed with all those Christmas gifts you simply must buy, because you can’t take a by-week (buy-week?) on Christmas. (Or Hanukkah, or Hanukah, or Chanukah, as the American Heritage Dictionary cheerfully tells us, in keeping with the holiday spirit.)

Rice is the U.S. ambassador to the United Nations, and she is rumored to be the successor to Hillary Rodham Clinton as secretary of State. Except that Republicans, especially in the Senate, which is the only place that counts, vehemently oppose her, presumably because Rice’s first name is not Condelezza (who, if you remember — which I understand is hard to do these days — was national-security adviser and then secretary of State under the Cowboy in Chief [man, does it feel fun to utter those words again, not that I actually uttered them]).

Why do Republicans detest Susan Rice so much? you ask. Well … it’s a long story. And it really doesn’t matter, because the world is going to end in two-and-a-half weeks.

According to the Mayan calendar, that is; I believe Dec. 21 is The Day.

Why is anybody paying attention to the Mayan calendar now when they never have before? one could ask. At least since the Mayans went away, leaving behind their calendar so that we could be worried about the end of the world. (The Mayan civilization reached its height from 300-900 C.E., the American Heritage Dictionary cheerfully tells us. And yes, I, too, am getting tired of a cheerful dictionary. Couldn’t you be dour, like the OED? I ask my dictionary. My dictionary is cheerfully silent.)

Meanwhile, back at Susan Rice (Remember her? Me, neither, except that I’m reasonably certain she’s neither Mayan nor a calendar). Republicans do detest her; as the House Republicans (who actually have no say in the matter if she is, indeed, nominated to be secretary of State; that’s the Senate’s job) put it in a letter to President Obama, as reported by the Washington Post:

“ ‘Ambassador Rice is widely viewed as having either willfully or incompetently misled the American public’ about the Sept. 11 attack on the U.S. Consulate in Benghazi, Libya.”

That, as the Post and many other media outlets have reported, so misspeaks the facts that you could start a whole new Mayan calendar with it. I mean, if that’s what you had in mind.

Rice was merely reporting what the intelligence community had briefed her on. That it wasn’t correct, as it certainly wasn’t, was not her fault. If you’re going to give Condelazze Rice and Colin Powell a pass, which Republicans do, because they got bad intelligence on Iraqi WMD and made statements that turned out to be clearly false before the U.S. invasion of Iraq, you’ve got to give Susan Rice the same pass.

But asking Republicans to be reasonable is like asking your dog to parse Finnegan’s Wake.

Then there’s the fiscal cliff, an edifice that has taken on almost mythical proportions (to exaggerate like a sportswriter for a moment — well, it’s fun, and besides, the world is going to end in two-and-a-half weeks).

I’ve climbed a lot of cliffs in my life (thanks to my father’s work in the mountains), but of course that was physically, not fiscally.

And in any case, I’ve heard economists on both BBC and NPR describe the fiscal cliff as being more of a fiscal slope, gently receding into the future.

Which, if the Mayan calendar is correct, doesn’t exist.

Happy Christmas shopping.

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