freeSpeech: Eugene Robinson

Gene Robinson

Something like 85 percent of African-Americans disapprove of President Bush. As regular readers know, that includes me.

Yet the most visible, and maybe at the moment the most powerful member of the Bush administration is an African. It's safe to say that Condi Rice provokes passionate feelings among black Americans, both pro and con — mostly con, in my case. But not always.

I've tried to get over the fact that a woman who grew up in Jim Crow Alabama is so loyal to a president for whom black America has so little love. I realize that black conservatives have the same right to be wrong as any other conservatives. She should be judged on foreign policy, not on whether or not she thinks like most African-Americans.

OK, fine, I think the war in Iraq is a disaster, I think this administration has created more anti-American feeling in the world than we've seen in my lifetime, and I look forward to the day when they have to pack up and go home. And that certainly includes Condoleezza Rice.

That's the way I feel — until I hear some commentator describe her as, quote, articulate, which is code for a black person who speaks standard English. Excuse me, you were expecting the Secretary of State to be inarticulate?

That's when I get this involuntary twitch and I want to defend Condoleezza Rice — when she's patronized, the way black pioneers in all walks of life have been patronized. Look, it may be wrongheaded foreign policy, but Condoleezza Rice is making it.

Condoleezza Rice is a major, major player in this administration. So call her whatever you want, but don't call her a token or a puppet. And please don't call her "articulate."

Eugene Robinson, an associate editor of The Washington Post, writes about politics and culture. His column appears on Tuesdays and Fridays.