early and awkward

Condi Rice Totally Forgot About Pearl Harbor

As everyone knows, Condoleezza Rice is a very smart woman: She started college at 15 years old. She has a master’s degree and a PhD. She taught at Stanford. She’s a piano virtuoso. She was George W. Bush’s National Security Adviser and Secretary of State. She resisted the charms of Muammar Qaddafi. And so on.

But even brilliant nerds can fail intellectually sometimes. And that seems to be what happened to Rice last night, when, during a discussion of 9/11 with David Letterman, she (and Letterman, too) appeared to totally forget about a minor incident in U.S. history known as the attack on Pearl Harbor. “Well, we had not been attacked on our territory since the War of 1812, when the British burned the White House,” Rice told him. Apparently someone mentioned Pearl Harbor to Letterman during the commercial break, because he apologized to viewers for the oversight when the show resumed.

But this is not the end of the story. After watching the show last night, Rice took to Twitter to defend her honor and her familiarity with elementary-school-level U.S. history:

Rice’s hair-splitting defense seems to be that her 1812 remark was accurate because she was only referring to attacks on civilian targets in official U.S. states or capital districts. Well, if she wants to be precise, let’s be precise: Rice’s exact words were “we had not been attacked on our territory since the War of 1812.” Hawaii was a U.S. territory in 1941. It was attacked.

So, Rice doesn’t want to admit it, but she misspoke. So what? It’s embarrassing, sure, but these things happen. She once called George W. Bush her husband, and they were not married at the time.

Condi Rice Totally Forgot About Pearl Harbor