Ms. Rice

The Bush Administration is trying to end the furor over a controversial statement in President Bush's State of the Union address. Bush said in that speech that British intelligence had learned that Iraq was trying to get uranium from Africa . It just came to light that not even the Brits were absolutely confident of their source, and that the Administration knew well ahead of time that claim was based on slim, some say nonexistent, evidence.

U-S intelligence agencies had raised questions about the claims. Both Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld and National Security Advisor Condoleezza Rice made the rounds of the Sunday talk shows, trying to downplay the Presidential error, and saying nothing was exaggerated. In fact, C-I-A Director George Tenet fell on his sword and took the blame for not insisting that the claim be removed from Mr. Bush's speech.

But it was Rice who voiced the most questionable response. She said we Americans shouldn't make such a fuss about it. After all, she said, "it was just one line, just 16 words," as though the number of words held as much importance as the message they conveyed. A political science professor ought to be smarter than that. Condoleezza was condescending. And that was a bit much.