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Rice, Bush Split on Dictatorship

October 14, 2007

One day after Vladimir Putin scolded Secretary of State Condi Rice and Defense Secretary Robert Gates over the administration's plans for a European missile defense system, Rice fired back at the Russian president. But before lecturing Putin on his return to authoritarianism in Russia, Rice should have first checked with her boss President Bush about his own long-held views on dictatorship.
Given the White House's penchant for torture, illegal surveillance of its own citizens, suspension of habeas corpus and the politicization of the U.S. Justice Department, Rice's comments in Moscow Saturday were tragically ironic from the get-go:

"In any country, if you don't have countervailing institutions, the power of any one president is problematic for democratic development. I think there is too much concentration of power in the Kremlin. I have told the Russians that. Everybody has doubts about the full independence of the judiciary. There are clearly questions about the independence of the electronic media and there are, I think, questions about the strength of the Duma."

Complicating matters for the Secretary of State is the unpleasant fact that George W. Bush apparently doesn't agree with her when it comes to the dangers of dictatorship:

"A dictatorship would be a heck of a lot easier, there's no question about it." (President George W. Bush, July 26, 2001.)
"If this were a dictatorship, it'd be a heck of a lot easier, just so long as I'm the dictator." (President-elect George W. Bush, December 18, 2000.)
"You don't get everything you want. A dictatorship would be a lot easier." (Texas Governor George W. Bush, July 1998.)

While Condi Rice and George W. Bush are infamously close, the PhD has misunderstood the C student yet again. George Bush and Vladimir Putin are not merely "deciders." They're soul mates.

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Jon Perr
Jon Perr is a technology marketing consultant and product strategist who writes about American politics and public policy.

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