Still No Kind Words for Condoleezza Rice

Thursday's front-page news story by Helene Cooper, "Rice's Hurdles On Middle East Begin at Home," reads more like a "news analysis" than what is supposedly a straight news story.

It trackswith Cooper'sprevious Condi-critical stories, including one July 31 in which she wrote that U.S. efforts to delay a ceasefire between Lebanon and Israel "left the impression that Ms. Rice and the Bush administration were willing to stomach the killing of innocent children to reach their larger aims."

Today she writes: "Washington's resistance to an immediate cease-fire and its staunch support of Israel have made it more difficult for Ms. Rice to work with other nations, including some American allies, as they search for a formula that will end the violence and produce a durable cease-fire.

"On her recent trips to the Middle East, Ms. Rice was accompanied by two men with very different outlooks on the conflict: Elliott Abrams, senior director at the National Security Council, and C. David Welch, a career diplomat and former ambassador to Egypt who is assistant secretary of state for Near East affairs.

Cooper throws around the "neocon" word, which has become a knee-jerk term of abuse among the left: "Mr. Welch represents the traditional State Department view that the United States should serve as a neutral broker in the Middle East. Mr. Abrams, a neoconservative with strong ties to Mr. Cheney, has pushed the administration to throw its support behind Israel."

And again: "State Department officials say that Mr. Abrams serves as a buffer for Ms. Rice with some neoconservatives who are critical of her policies."