Condi on Rummy
Don and I did tangle in front of others. After one such episode the two of us were walking side by side through the Rose Garden portico.
I turned to Don and asked, “What’s wrong between us?”
“I don’t know,” he said. “We always got along. You’re obviously bright and committed, but it just doesn’t work.”
Bright? That, I thought to myself, is part of the problem. Don had been more comfortable in the old days, when he was the senior statesman championing my career. A relationship between equals was much harder for him.
“Mr. President,” I said, “stay where you are. You cannot come back here.” Frank Miller, my trusted senior director for defense policy and arms control, was standing next to me. “Tell him he can’t come back.”
“I know,” I said. I then did something that I never did again. I raised my voice with the President and in a tone as firm as I could possibly muster, I said, “Mr. President, you cannot come back here. Washington, I mean the United States, is under attack.” He didn’t answer, and the Secret Service lifted me physically and pushed me toward the bunker.
A black female secretary of state simply didn’t fit with the stereotypes that most people held about the United States. Tony Blair may have summed it up best when he said that he’d been struck by the sight at the first Camp David meeting of the President flanked by Colin Powell on one side and me on the other. Could this happen in Britain? he asked himself. Not yet, he said he answered silently. Not yet.
Whenever I met Sarkozy, he greeted me by saying, “I love this woman.” He didn’t mean it literally, of course. But we saw eye to eye on almost everything. I couldn’t help but think how different it might have been to confront the problem of Saddam Hussein with Sarkozy instead of [Jacques] Chirac in the Élysée Palace and Angela Merkel instead of Gerhard Schroeder in Berlin.