She’s a jerk. On the smallest, most immediate level, the sort I can appreciate, she’s a fake and a bully. At Harper’s, Scott Horton posts about her torture-heavy Q&A session with students at a Stamford doom. Horton addresses the mismatch between her remarks and publicly known facts. But what gets me is the cheap way she tried to muscle one of the kids asking her questions. It’s not enough that she cherrypicked an isolated finding in a report about Guantanamo (where it called the prison’s physical facilities “a model medium security prison”) and ignored the damning stuff in the same report (treatment of prisoners was “mental torture.” She had to pretend the kid hadn’t done his/her homework.  After trotting out the “model medium” finding: “if you didn’t know that, maybe before you make allegations about Guantanamo you should read.” When she, in effect, blames the Supreme Court for keeping Guantanamo’s inmate indefinitely detained — because the court wouldn’t allow Bush’s people to put the inmates before kangaroo tribunals — she tries to make the student into a stooge by quizzing him:

RICE: Those trials were stayed by whom? Who kept us from holding the trials?

STUDENT: I can’t answer that question.

RICE: Do your homework first.

Oh, thank you, ma’am. She’s playing “look over there,” trying to make the student’s alleged ignorance into the topic of the moment.

The Bush people weren’t just jerks in a grand, world-historical sense. They were jerks at the molecular level too. Cheap bullies and flim-flam artists, whether they were political hustlers or the provost of Stamford.

Transcript of Q&A is here.

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