Jewish Sightseeing HomePage Jewish Sightseeing


Harrison Weblog

2005 blog


First female African-American Secretary of State
sworn in by first female Jewish Supreme Court Justice
,  Jan. 28, 2005

With President George W. Bush looking on, Condoleezza Rice was sworn in today (Friday, Jan. 28) as Secretary of State by Supreme court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg.

There was a sense of symbolism and inclusiveness as the first African-American female Secretary of State repeated the constitutional oath administered by the first Jewish female Supreme Court justice.  The occasion was for ceremonial purposes; two days earlier Rice had been administered the oath during a smaller White House ceremony.

At today's ceremony, Bush made a point of welcoming U.S. Reps. Jane Harman and Juanita Millender-McDonald, two Democratic congresswomen from California, who like the Justice and Secretary of State respectively are a Jew and an African-American.

Bush, in brief remarks, stressed the theme he struck in his second Inaugural Address of freedom on the march across the world.

The President noted that in two day's time, citizens of Iraq will participate in that country's "first free elections in generations. Sunday's election is the first step in a process that will allow Iraqis to write and pass a constitution that enshrines self-government and the rule of law. This history is changing the world, because the advent of democracy in Iraq will serve as a powerful example to reformers throughout the entire Middle East. On Sunday, the Iraqi people will be joining millions in others parts of the world who now decide their future through free votes."

Rice kept her post-swearing-in remarks also brief. She told Bush: "Under your leadership, Mr. President, we at the Department of State will conduct a foreign policy that sees the world clearly as it is. But, Mr. President, we will not accept that today's reality has to be tomorrow's. We will work in partnership with allies and reformers across the globe, putting the tools of diplomacy to work to unite, strengthen and widen the community of democracies."

Touring the State Department on Thursday, Rice drew a parallel between creating new democracies in the Middle East and the creation of democracies in Germany and Japan after World War II (see previous story).

  —Donald H. Harrison