Condi on Katrina: 'What was I thinking?'

Regrets? Condoleeza Rice has more than a few. And among the biggest was her decision to go shoe shopping while hundreds of New Orleans citizens suffered through Hurricane Katrina in 2005.

As the former Secretary of State writes in her new memoir: No Higher Honor: A Memoir of my Years in Washington, excerpted by Newsweek, Rice realized she had made the wrong decision to travel to New York for a late August getaway when she turned on the television the day after Katrina  hit:

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She writes:

"The next morning, I went shopping at the Ferragamo shoe store down the block from my hotel, returned to the Palace to await [friends] Randy and Mariann’s arrival, and again turned on the television. The airwaves were filled with devastating pictures from New Orleans. And the faces of most of the people in distress were black. I knew right away that I should never have left Washington. I called my chief of staff, Brian Gunderson. “I’m coming home,” I said.

“Yeah. You’d better do that,” he answered.

Then I called the President. “Mr. President, I’m coming back. I don’t know how much I can do, but we clearly have a race problem,” I said.

“Yeah. Why don’t you come on back?” he answered.

She goes on:

"I called Mariann and Randy and apologized and then sat there kicking myself for having been so tone-deaf. I wasn’t just the secretary of state with responsibility for foreign affairs; I was the highest-ranking black in the administration and a key advisor to the President. What had I been thinking?"

Preoccupied with finding a perfect pair of pumps, perhaps? Seriously, though, hers is a question that still begs a believable answer from the entire Bush administration.