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Thursday, September 12, 2013

Condi Rice update

Kristen Soltis Anderson has a brief essay about Condoleezza Rice: "The Republican Party's Class Act." Excerpt:
I was seated in the upper level of the Tampa Bay Times Forum, where lucky credentialed observers could watch convention proceedings live. Speaker after speaker strode to the podium and offered the usual convention fare. “Welcome to Barack Obama’s retirement party!” “Let’s vote him out!”
When Condoleezza Rice took the stage, delegates and observers burst into raucous applause. The crowd’s enthusiasm during her speech was mighty. The room thundered. I am not certain I breathed once during the 20 minutes she spoke.
Condoleezza Rice did not mention President Barack Obama once.
No one observing the speech could declare it timid. Yet, at the same time, there was not a single mention of “this administration” or “this president.” In fact, her only use of the word “president” came as she said:
“And on a personal note: A little girl grows up in Jim Crow Birmingham, the segregated city of the South where her parents can’t take her to a movie theater or a restaurant. But they make her believe that — even though she can’t have a hamburger at the Woolworth’s lunch counter — she can be president of the United States if she wanted to be, and she becomes the secretary of state.”
The room roared.
There is power in speaking well, and speaking differently than the rest. Condoleezza Rice embodies a unique style of grace and intellect, and that night in Tampa she proved that having vision is more powerful than being loud.
I, too, thought that speech was excellent, and mentioned it at the time as bolstering Rice's future presidential prospects. A little over a year later, those prospects seem to me brighter still, and that 2016 would be a plausible time for her to run.

After watching the Obama administration's performance over Syria recently, it seems to me increasingly likely that the next president will be a "foreign policy president," someone with a strong background on international issues. The last such president was George H.W. Bush, and he was given the gold watch by an electorate that was ready for a post-Cold War focus on domestic issues. Bill Clinton, George W. Bush and Barack Obama all were elected despite (perhaps to some degree even because of) a paucity of experience in foreign policy. During the relatively halcyon 1990s, Clinton's on-the-job training seemed to suffice. But the world has been unforgiving of inexperienced presidents during the 21st century, and the old requirement that a new president have some background and substance on that front going in could (and in any case, should) re-emerge.

Now, of course, criticism of G.W. Bush's foreign policy (including, implicitly, in the above paragraph) will also be an issue for Condi Rice, if she should choose to enter the electoral fray. But of course she was part of a team, and the failings of that team seem (to me, at least) to reflect considerably more on others than on her. Just as (in my opinion) the failings of the current team reflect more on others than on Hillary Clinton, who remains a likely Democratic nominee in 2016.

Dick Morris may not have been wrong, just premature, when he published this:


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