In light of their reaction to the nomination of Condoleezza Rice as secretary of state, I gather liberals have gotten over their enthusiasm for multiculturalist milestones. It’s interesting that they dropped their celebrations of the “first woman!” “first black!” “first Asian!” designations at the precise moment that we are about to get our first black female secretary of state.

When Madeline Albright was appointed the FIRST WOMAN secretary of state, the media was euphoric. (And if memory serves, Monica Lewinsky was the first Jewish female to occupy her various positions on the president’s, uh, staff.)

With Albright at the helm of the State Department, Osama bin Laden ran wild throughout the Middle East, the North Koreans began feverishly building nukes under her nose, and we staged a pre-emptive attack solely for purposes of regime change based on false information presented to the American people by Albright about a world leader who was not an imminent threat to the United States. Slobodan Milosevic wasn’t even a latent, long-term, hypothetical threat.

But the girls in the mainstream media were too smitten with Albright’s brooch collection and high heels to notice the shambles she was making of foreign policy.

The New York Times raved about Albright’s brooches in an article titled, “A Diplomat Who Says ‘Read My Pins.'” In the San Francisco Chronicle, Leah Garchik was amazed by Albright’s “jewel-encrusted flag” pin — Albright’s clever ruse to prove that Republicans did not have “dibs on patriotic jewelry.” Perhaps Rice could impress American journalists if she talked more about her accessorizing.

People magazine quoted an aide gushing that Albright “stays in her heels all day.” Albright herself told Harper’s Bazaar, “I’ve kidded that the advantage of being a woman secretary of state is makeup.” This was a great leap forward for feminism? At this point even Paris Hilton was rolling her eyes and saying, “Oh, come on now!”

But Bush nominates a brilliant geopolitical thinker who happens to be black and female and all of a sudden she’s Butterfly McQueen, who don’t know nothin’ ’bout birthin’ no Middle Eastern democracies.

Earlier this year, the flamboyant Richard Clarke claimed that when he briefed Rice in early 2001 about al-Qaida, her “facial expression gave me the impression that she had never heard the term before.” It’s good to know that Clinton’s chief terrorism “expert” believes himself to possess paranormal abilities such as ESP.

Why couldn’t Dick Clarke have used some of those mind-reading skills on Osama before al-Qaida blew up the USS Cole in October 2000? Or after? To the bitter end, the official position of the Clinton administration was that it couldn’t say for sure who was responsible for the Cole attack.

Apparently, liberals believe Rice compares unfavorably to Madeline Albright, whose principle accomplishment before becoming secretary of state was managing to attain the age of 60 without realizing she was Jewish. That was raw competence.

I take that back: Albright also taught at Georgetown University. Of course, American universities make professors of people like Eldridge Cleaver’s wife. (Kathleen Cleaver is currently at Yale law school; Susan Rosenberg, a participant in a Brinks car robbery, teaches at Hamilton College; former Weatherman Bill Ayers is a distinguished professor of education at the University of Illinois-Chicago; and former Weatherman Bernardine Dohrn is the director of a legal clinic at Northwestern University.)

Or how about Clinton’s first secretary of state, Warren Christopher, a lawyer whose dazzling foreign policy experience consisted of being President Carter’s chief negotiator for the hostages in Iran? That’s almost as impressive a resume entry as “Chief Iceberg Lookout, the Titanic,” “Senior Design Engineer, the Edsel,” “Navigator, Exxon Valdez,” or “Writer/Executive Producer, ‘Alexander.'”

The closest black woman to Bill Clinton was his secretary, Betty Currie — whose principal function was penciling in “Monica” on Clinton’s “To Do” list every morning. The closest black woman to most of the liberals accusing Rice of being incompetent is the maid they periodically accuse of stealing from the liquor cabinet.

George Bush chose a black woman to be his top adviser on national security. Now he wants her as his secretary of state. And when she becomes the first black female secretary of state, Rice will replace the first black secretary of state — both appointed by right-wing Republican George Bush. The entire Bush cabinet is starting to look like an Image Awards telecast minus the fisticuffs and gunplay.

Democrats are terrified that black people might start to notice.

Say, there’s a black woman standing next to President Bush … who is that?

Never mind! It’s probably somebody he’s arresting!

It’s extremely valuable for Democrats to be able to campaign in black neighborhoods while talking about the “white boys” running the Republican Party. When she was managing Al Gore’s 2000 campaign, Donna Brazile said she was not going to “let the white boys win in this election.” (If I had a nickel for every time I’ve confused Al Gore, Joe Lieberman, Terry McAuliffe, Paul Begala and James Carville for the Jackson Five …)

Sure enough, Brazile was instrumental in not letting a couple of white boys — named Al and Joe — win the election. I guess that’s liberals’ idea of a “competent” black woman.