You really have to be in America to have a feel for just how badly Condi has blundered by refusing to testify under oath on 911. Forget about whether she did anything wrong (or right) and just look at it from the perspective of appearances:
Here we have the No. 1 issue on which George W. Bush is campaigning; it’s all he’s got, what with the economy a mess and unemployment high. So what do the Bushies do? They reject pleas from the most respected members of their own party, like former Navy Secretary John Lehman, who said today that if Condi refuses to testify under oath and in public before the 911 commission, the American people will inevitably believe she (and the government) have something to hide. He said that in effect the GOP was cutting its own throat.
I really had a lot of respect for Condi following the 911 attacks, and it’s sad to see her implode by adopting this bunker mentality (not to mention her recent junkyard-dog demeanor). After appearing on every talk show under the sun to combat Richard Clarke, her refusal to testify in public is particularly galling. She’s obviously got the time, and obviously has a lot to say. But refusing to do so under oath, on the topic of supreme importance to all Americans? It’s nothing less than bizarre, and I suspect she’ll either have to relent and testify or else face political ruin. And maybe both.
Richard Burger is the author of Behind the Red Door: Sex in China, an exploration of China's sexual revolution and its clash with traditional Chinese values.