There are a lot of people with strongly negative opinions of George Bush. Have you ever tried to dissuade anybody from hating him?
Well, no. But I think people caricatured the president, and the only thing that I couldn’t understand is why this man with such a curious mind, who in briefings always asked the question you wish you thought of, why that quality didn’t come across. And I fully admit that it didn’t come across. I think part of it is he has such a self-deprecating way about him that people tend to underestimate him. But he read five books for every one I read. He read something like 12 biographies of Lincoln in office.
Still, most historians put Bush near the bottom when they rank the presidents.
A historian should know more than anyone that history’s arc is long and that it takes quite a while to judge how somebody’s contributions have come out. Harry Truman probably is the greatest president to my mind of the post-World War II era — and that includes them all, even my great hero, Ronald Reagan.
One of the great foreign-policy victories of the Bush administration was bringing Muammar el-Qaddafi into the Western fold. Do you see it as any less of a victory now?
Just imagine what the circumstances would look like if his W.M.D. weren’t sitting in Oak Ridge, Tenn. And that’s directly because of the policies that he undertook in response to Iraq and in response to sanctions in 2003 and 2004.
What were the most exhilarating moments in office?
The day the Iraqis voted for the first time. The day the Afghans voted for the first time. When Liberia was liberated; when Congress passed the emergency fund for AIDS relief; when the Syrian forces left Lebanon.
Condoleezza Rice met with Prime Minister Nuri Kamal al-Maliki, left, and President Jalal Talabani in the Green Zone, April, 2008.
Condoleezza Rice with President Karzai in Kabul, Afghanistan, 2006
US Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice meets Liberia's president elect, Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf, December 2005.
Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice announces the release of the second annual report to Congress on the President's Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief Wednesday, February 8 in Washington.
Lebanese prime minister Fouad Siniora, seen here with US secretary of state Condoleezza Rice.
I’ve read that people consider you almost incapable of admitting a mistake. What do you consider to be the biggest of your career?
You know, I’ve done pretty well. I don’t spend a lot of time dwelling on the past that way.
You can’t think of just one?
I’m certain I can find many. It’s just not a very fruitful exercise.
In 2005 you went to see “Spamalot,” and the audience booed you. Does that happen a lot?
It happens on occasion and, you know what, I don’t care. I don’t care, because I did what I thought I could do in service of the country. I did some things well and some things not so well. The overwhelming majority of people come up to me and say, “Thank you for your service.” If you’re a public figure, there are always going to be a few people who don’t like what you did. I’m just really glad I don’t have to listen to them.
Peter Dow comments.
Let us consider the love of the people of the world for Condoleezza Rice to be somewhat like a very large rose bush. Overwhemlingly we see the roses and the beauty of the love they represent but there are thorns in the rose bush too.
Shame on the ignorant who dare to boo such an angel of mercy as our beloved Condi!
I am relieved to hear that Condi does not care about those undeserved rose thorns in amongst the overwhelming number of roses.
Thank you Condoleezza Rice for your service indeed and thank you for your courage in braving those few undeserved boos.
Lady Condoleezza, the Rose of America = Lady Oscar, the Rose of Versailles
Lady Oscar, the Rose of Versailles.
The Italian lyrics and an English translation:
Grande festa alla corte di Francia, c'e' nel regno una bimba in piu'
At the court of France, there's a big party for the birth of a baby girl in the kingdom
Biondi capelli e rosa di guancia Oscar ti chiamerai tu
Blond hair and rosy cheeks, they named her "Oscar"
Il buon padre voleva un maschietto ma ahime' sei nata tu
The father wanted a boy but alas, she was born
Nella culla ti ha messo un fioretto lady dal fiocco blu
He laid a lady's foil with a blue ribbon by her cradle
Oh Lady, Lady, Lady
Oscar tutti fanno festa quando passi tu
Oh Lady, Lady, Lady Oscar everyone cheers when she passes by
oh Lady, Lady, Lady Oscar come un moschettiere batterti sai tu
Oh Lady, Lady, Lady Oscar she patrols the beat of a musketeer