May 28, 2005

The graceful Condoleezza.

Condoleezza Rice did a nice job of responding to protesters:
[A]bout five minutes into the secretary's 30-minute speech [at the Commonwealth Club in San Francisco], three audience members donned black hooded robes and stood with their arms outstretched, referencing the infamous photos of detainees abused by U.S. military police at Iraq's Abu Ghraib prison. Chanting "Stop the torture, stop the killing, U.S. out of Iraq," they were quickly ushered out by a police SWAT team, as the audience cheered and applauded.

"It's a wonderful thing that people are able to speak their minds in our democracy," Rice responded. "In Baghdad, Kabul and soon in Beirut, they, too, will be able to speak their minds."

From then on, it was smooth sailing for the secretary of state...

I happened to catch that on C-Span last night, and there was never an instant where she looked confused, worried, rattled, or angry. The protesters' noise interrupted a sentence, she waited a short moment for a break in the noise, then delivered her perfect line.

Those who think Rice isn't ready to run for President: take this incident into account.

UPDATE: There's some interesting back and forth in the comments, with one person saying Rice is not a good candidate because she's never run for elective office before and she's unmarried. I participate in the comments and say, among other things, that if polling shows people prefer a married candidate, maybe we could see a nice White House wedding.

17 comments:

Dave said...

If Rice were to run, I assume she would run as a Republican.

How will liberal feminists, who have voted exclusively Democrat in their lives, react to a female, Republican candidate? Will they demonstrate against one of their own running for the highest office?

Likely, if Hillary were to run in '08 as well, the liberal feminists would have her to cower behind. All they would have to do is throw their support behind Hillary and avoid the uncomfortable spectacle that would come by actively campaigning against one of their own gender.

That would be a delicious irony that would have conservatives licking their chops.

I really have no idea if Rice is Presidential material or not, but I trust her more than wife-of-Slick-Willie.

Abraham said...

Was the audience cheering because they agreed with the protestors? Or because they were removed from the room?

Ron said...

I doubt that Rice could run for president.

1.) She's never held an elective office. People think voting for senators is tough enough, but someone who's never been elected?

2.) The National Security Advisor gig didn't exactly go very well. Opponents would make much hay from the post-invasion mess.

3.) She's not married. I don't think anyone male or female could get elected without being married. James Buchanan or no!

Ann Althouse said...

I both candidates are women, it will wash out the issue of whether it's particularly bad or good to have a woman as President.

Another leveling thing, if it's Hillary and Condi, is that Condi's a Republican and Hillary's married. I won't elaborate right now on why I think those things even the candidates out but I do.

Is it better for a woman candidate to be married or unmarried? You can't compare this to how we might feel about an unmarried man. The deep political meaning of marriage is entirely different for a woman than it is for a man. Think of the troubles Geraldine Ferarro had because of her husband. Think of the whole "First Man" confusion.

Kathleen B. said...

I am afraid I don't really understand where you are coming from Dave. why on earth would it be an "uncomfortable spectacle" for "liberal feminists" to not support Sec. Rice? are you saying that Sec. Rice supports the goals of "liberal feminists"?

This came up in the comments on the other thread about Sec. Rice running for President and I don't believe anyone explained it then.

gs said...

Ann: As someone who thinks Rice is presidential timber but won't be seasoned by 2008, I will indeed take the story into account.

This kind of incident may well have been wargamed in advance by Rice's or Bush's people. That's not to disparage Condi; on the contrary, it's an indication that she's serious about higher office.

I left some career advice for Condi (grin) after your previous post about her. Let me supplement it with the suggestion that she get hitched. Isn't she dating an ex-football player who works in the NFL office? A smart jock. Perfect.

And if the First Male occasionally lays bonecrushing hits on supercilious envoys from various annoying places, so much the better...

Becker said...

With respect to Condis experience compared to a Senator... gimme a break. Condi has been in positions where she's formulated policy. She has then been responsible to see that the policies she formulated were carried out. She knows the satanic (small "s") buracuracy at State and in both the Pentagon and intel communities inside and out. She is smarter than Hillary, she is smarter than all of Congress combined.

With respect to the NSC "gig" not going well, that is just pure hogwash. She, and the administration, acted on intelligence that was deemed credible by EVERY major intel organization in the world. The fact that Iraq had actually USED WMD's certainly led credibility to idea that they had them. And we haven't seen what's in the Bekka Valley yet either...

Count this old, conservative, white, evangelical in the Condi column. I just hope she runs against John McCain.

Ron said...

Becker: I'm giving you a break here; I didn't say that Condi didn't have a lot of qualifications. I just don't think the electorate will vote someone into the White House who has never had to go through the campaign process at some level. I didn't say if that was right or wrong, I just think this would such a serious campaign issue, that it would hurt her chances.

As for the NSC gig...hey, spin it any way you like, but don't think that she wouldn't be pounded on that point every day on the campaign trail. Relentlessly! You can line up all the intel organizations with their pre-war observations you like, it won't matter! You think that Swift Boat Vets or silly Texas ANG charges got press? That will be nothing compared to what the NSC advisor at the point of the Iraq invasion will get...

I like Condi, and I do think she's quite intelligent, but to say she's smarter than all of Congress? Well, this old, libertarian, white, Nietzschean thinks thats...hmmm, what's that word?...oh, yeah, hogwash...

Ann: Do you think it will matter more to women voters than men, if Condi remains unmarried? I just think that both genders won't have the same degree of trust in a candidate who hasn't to deal with the responsibility of marriage, and probably, I'm guessing, the difficulties of raising children.

Ann Althouse said...

First, I don't think anyone is qualified to be President. Why is some representative from a district in some Midwestern state qualified? (Gephardt) Or some one-term Senator? (Edwards) Or someone whose lounged through decades in the Senate? (Kerry) Or some governor of a small state? (Dean) Wasn't Colin Powell more qualified? Everyone seemed to think he was ideal, and he was never elected anywhere. Plenty of mediocrities are elected, and plenty of people who hold lower offices are compromised by their political dealings. And what do these people know of foreign affairs, the most important matter for the President.

As to not being married, let's see what the polling shows. I don't know what women in general think of marriage. I'm sure I hold the institution in lower esteem than the great majority of Americans, so my opinion doesn't answer the question. I would tend to think a woman staying single is likely to be especially responsible, because she has taken responsibility for herself. I'd rather see the first woman President be someone who made it on her own rather than someone who gained prominence through her husband.

But if the polling shows she needs to be married, let's find the perfect helpmeet for her and let's have a big glorious White House wedding -- like back in the days of LBJ -- and let's see President Bush walk her to the altar! That could be better political theater than the Reagan funeral.

Ron said...

Well, it could very well be true that no one is qualified to be President! Thus, no one and any one are equally eligble. But this is not my point.

My remark is more directed towards the historical reality of who gets elected; it may be that a CEO or a University President or a mime may be most qualified, but that's not who the electorate goes for, they prefer elected officials (and we do recognize that most governors or senators don't a chance at foriegn policy) and I think that tendency will still work against Condi.

The same is true for marriage, and that doesn't apply to just female candidates. I don't think a single man could get elected either, which is why I don't think your remarks about how marriage is different for women don't apply. The single people I know of Presidental age tend to think of themselves as more responsible than the married with children people,(and vice versa!) but that's not the point, either.

I could be wrong about this, but isn't it odd that this hasn't even been tested for a long time, since who...? Surely someone since Buchanan, but I can't think of an instance where either party nominated a single person, or even considered it.

I think an LBJ style wedding with plenty o' good Q, hell, even a Nixon wedding, would be a blast! Martha would have to be the Presidental Wedding Planner!

Ron said...

While I'm still thinking about it...

You could say that "there hasn't been a woman president either", but we've had a woman on the ticket, (Ferraro) and there has been discussion about others. (Elizabeth Dole) And I don't think that we've discussed these candidates on their spouses prominence either, even in Dole's case, and this also true now even for Hillary, whos spouse WAS president!

But, notice, we simply assume that any candidate will be married. I don't know how many Presidents already had children by the time they were elected, but I'll bet it's more than half.

Mark Daniels said...

One would hope that being a woman, single, or African-American would not be reasons for people to dismiss potential candidates for the presidency.

I harbor the same hope for people who've never held elective office. While I think it's wise to elect people to the presidency who've been "around the block" and know politics, it's possible to gain such experience in more than the strictly "political" world.

But I just don't see Condoleezza Rice as a successful candidate for President. We've had a history of electing secretaries of state or former ones to the presidency, of course. But this was early in our country's history.

These days, secretaries of state tend to be persons who've cultivated an expertise in foreign policy through diplomatic service, in academia, or in a combination of those two. Their tenures as chief diplomats for the US give them little time to cultivate ward heelers in places like Dubuque, Nashua, and Columbia, essential for anyone who would be President because there is no such thing as the draft of meritorious candidates. Successful candidates for President must weather the challenges of the primaries and caucuses, particularly in those early contests in Iowa, New Hampshire, and South Carolina.

It should also be said that generally speaking, folks who function well as diplomats must develop ways of thinking and communicating that don't always connect well with the average voter. While it's hard not to have a high opinion of Rice--she's proven herself a capable, tough-minded person in every post she's held, it's hard to imagine her speaking with South Dakotans about agricultural price supports, for example.

On top of all this, the demands of a secretary of state's job are such that it would be very difficult for Rice, in the winter of 2008, to run for the nomination. It's a lot easier for senators and former governors to do that.

I could be wrong about all of this...that's happened before! But I just don't think that she has much of a chance.

Thankfully though, I don't see her gender, race, or marital status making any difference. Isn't it nice that we can say that?

+++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++

As to Hillary, the most recent polling seems to indicate that the same thing is happening for the Clinton family that happened for the Bushes. When Bush the Elder left the White House, he was disdained as a wealthy pol distant from the concerns and experiences of the average citizen and a failure as president. Within a few short years--and some would say, owing in part to the experiences of the Clinton Administration--people looked back on him with appreciation and nostalgia. Much of George W.'s early support stemmed from the positive feelings people had developed for his father.

Now, 58% of the American people indicate a willingness to vote for Hillary, a person not long ago seen as the political equivalent of nuclear contamination, especially in the Red or Purple states.

In the past, I've told people, "There's no way she'll be nominated for the presidency and that if by some happenstance she were nominated, she would get her clock cleaned." Now I don't know.

But if she were nominated by the Democrats, I don't think that her being a woman would matter that much. Maybe I'm being naive, but I just don't.

+++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++

One other thing. Any speculation about who Rice or Clinton would ask to be their running mates if it came to that? I mean, if we believe that they have deficiencies as presidential candidates, who might they ask to be their veeps to offset those.

Rice would be in a funny position. She would have to give herself both a harder edge to reassure the hardcore NASCAR male and a softer one to placate those more liberal than she on both foreign and domestic issues. Oddly enough, I think that Rice might have to deal with a reverse gender gap: My guess is that her support among men would be stronger than among women.

Clinton's recent speeches have shown what she must do generally: tack to the middle. She would seem to need to pick a centrist Dem male, maybe one who is pro-life, for her running mate. Harry Reid would fit the bill except that as minority leader, he's become a lightning rod, a choice that would risk making Clinton even more controversial.

But in any case, this is probably an academic exercise, as I don't see either Rice or Clinton being nominated. These speculations are always fun for political junkies though.

Ron said...

Mark: While I certainly agree with you that I hope people are not affected by race, gender or sindleness, I can't but wonder how much of all these pre-judgements remain. (note the use of the word instead of "prejudices", which now has its own topspin!)

I think that I am proud that now, over time, the racial, gender and even most religious pre-judgements have faded away in American life.

I say "most" of the religious, because , well, we've never had a Buddhist run for the Oval Office! Or a Muslim! or even someone Jewish, though Libermann was a candidate! I'm not sure how the public would react in these cases. Can we agree that an atheist is not electable any time in the near future? I think so. As Kerry was nominated, I think the old WASP prejudice against Catholics has vanished, even though it was still an issue for JFK.

I still think singlehood is viewed as an "experience" question, and thus, I feel it still constricts candidates.

Someone outside of the political classes? Well, we've had Jesse Ventura and Der Govenator...at this point, wouldn't it be a celebrity of some kind, who brings along their own fanbase? Or is this still just a novelty, which will not reach the Presidental Level? Following Ann's earlier remarks, does it matter if Carrot Top is Governor of say, Vermont? Ah, but do I want his finger on The Button? I think not!

A famous hyper-wealthy person, perhaps? A Trump or a Gates? Is it me, or do I think the public would feel that there's just not enough gravitas -- or broad-mindedness -- in business people? Has Perot ruined it for a generation or two? Now listen, it's real simple. Yes!

Sadly, Ann, I think that we're stuck with, as they say at Mad Magazine, the Usual Gang of Idiots...

gs said...

Speaking of qualifications for higher office, imho Ann would make a good judge.

She's even-tempered and objective, has common sense, tries to be fair and seeks to understand other points of view...and her field is constitutional law!

If this has been said before, it's worth saying again.

Ron said...

Huh? What's that you say? Carrot Top is Governor of Vermont?

I'll be...here I thought it was Gallagher all this time...

Jim C. said...

I just caught the rebroadcast of this on C-SPAN2. It was exactly as the Washington Post described.

I wanted to respond to Abraham, who asked "Was the audience cheering because they agreed with the protestors? Or because they were removed from the room?"

She actually made the statement quoted and another slightly different version. She said one version over the chanting, and got the audience response indicated. After the brief interruption ended, she restated the point in a slightly different fashion, and got the same audience response.

So I'd say in both cases the audience was applauding Condi's responses.

Tristán de Roa said...

Yeah, it sure is a wonderful thing they can speak their minds out there in Irak and Afghanistan. Almost 4,000 American soldiers killed prove it. Of course, tens of thousands of Iraqis and Afghans didn`t live long enough to speak their minds but, well, that is democracy.
Those who think Condi is ready to be President... consider this!