October 24, 2005

Signs of a Rice candidacy.

Is Condoleezza Rice running for President?
It was Ms. Rice's second trip to the [South] since Hurricane Katrina, when she and other members of the Bush administration came under criticism for the handling of the storm's aftermath. On this trip, Ms. Rice met with hurricane victims and volunteers in Tuscaloosa and Birmingham. But much of the rest of her itinerary was of a more personal nature.

No recent secretary of state has taken a trip like this, to relate a life story. Nor has Ms. Rice previously put her own experiences on such public display.

There was her childhood friend, Carole C. Smitherman, now president of the Birmingham City Council, who recalled Ms. Rice as a softball player who could hit the ball as far as any boy, a student who devoured the great books "as casual reading," a ballet dancer and a pianist whose music "filled our streets."

John Cantelow, who taught band in elementary school, with Ms. Rice playing the bells, said, "She was a different kind of kid." He added, "She was more mature than the others and very, very, very - how can I explain it, for a kid? - very focused."

Despite her disavowal of political ambitions, it was hard not to imagine Ms. Rice bringing this biography to elective politics, with this visit as her coming-out party.

Ms. Rice seems genuinely uninterested in running for office, but she clearly enjoyed her celebrity status. And how unlikely would it be for a Republican presidential nominee in 2008, especially one lacking foreign policy credentials, to turn to her as a running mate, especially if the Democratic opponent is, say, Senator Hillary Rodham Clinton?
What about seeming "genuinely uninterested in running for office" would not also be exactly the way she would want to seem if she were genuinely interested in running for President?

37 comments:

AJ Lynch said...

She'd probably get my vote.

Afterall, IMHO, Rice is the Real Smartest Woman In America!

Gerry said...

"Nor has Ms. Rice previously put her own experiences on such public display."

I need to find it, but over the weekend I read a blog post somewhere which proved this statement to be categorically false. Ms. Rice has talked about her family's experiences on such public display many, many times.

Gerry said...

Ah. It was Powerline.

Undercover Christian said...

I'm holding out hope that she'll run. I have a Condi bumper sticker on my car right now.

Simon said...

I am far from opposed to a Rice candidacy (or, ho ho, condidacy), but I do find the willingness of people to found websites and cheerlead for her to be rather odd. My problem with the Rice for President sites - and it's exemplified by the www.rice2008.com site - is: where's the policy? Richard Mason of Americans for Rice, for example, has posted an essay which poses the question "Where does Dr. Rice stand on the ‘issues’?". Richard graces us with a further 644 words, none of which even begin to answer the question, Where does Dr. Rice stand on the issues? Sure, a candidate's numbers matter, and a compelling backstory is an electoral asset - but isn't it more important to have definitive statements about what a candidate believes, what they would do in office, what their vision for America is? What does Rice think about Social Security reform? Healthcare? Abortion? Free trade? Education? The people who are founding these sites either don't know, or don't care to display it publically. It just feels to me like they're playing the numbers game and nothing else - they see a black, female Republican candidate in the public eye, and that's all they feel that they need to know.

But that isn't enough, and surely we should demand more of a potential candidate - a compelling personal narrative is part of a candidate's package, of course, but it isn't enough in isolation.

I've seen people online frequently advocating Rice's candidacy, and they always seem so enthusiastic - What exactly about her attracts them to her as a candidate, I ask them? What policies has she advanced that you feel particularly qualifies her for the Presidency? What do you actually know about Rice's view's on a wide range of important policy issues? What is Rice's opinion on Social Security reform? On healthcare? What is Rice's view on the appropriate relationship between the Federal Government and the States? Does she approve of a Presidential line-item veto, or does she favor the supremacy of Congress in the legislative sphere? What is Rice's opinion about the trade deficit, how it can be reduced, and what is her view on whether the callue of the yuan should be decoupled from that of the dollar? What steps does Rice offer in terms of the progress of the next generation of environmentally-friendly technology, and the role of the United States in their development? What is Rice's solution to the problems of public education and the decline of US competetiveness in math and "hard" sciences?

Of course, these are all issues beyond the purview of the Secretary of State or the National Security Adviser, but they are most certainly within the purview of the President. So let us turn to matters that are within Rice's job descriptions. What is Rice's view on how best to resolve the China/Taiwan situation, and how would she react to a Chinese invasion of Taiwan? What action would a President Rice take should the North Korean government collapse? If such a collapse ocurred, and if China should attempt to annex North Korea, what steps would she take? What is her view on the Cuba trade embargo, and how does she differentiate the trade embargo on communist Cuba from the trade free-for-all with communist China? What is Rice's view on the development of democracy within Saudi Arabia and its extension in Iran? How should the US seek to foster democratic reform in Africa without appearing high-handed or imperialistic? What are Rice's top five foreign policy goals during her term?

This is a very, very short list of extremely relevant questions - and thusfar, none of those advocating Condi Rice's election as President have answered them, to my knowledge. The only rationale offered by Condi's supporters is that Rice is a black female Republican who is well-qualified to be Secretary of State and who might beat Hillary Clinton in 2008.

When I contemplate candidates that I think would bring interesting angles to the 2008 primary - Gingrich, Snowe, Hagel, Romney, Sanford - they each have identifiable policy positions across the wide ambit of public policy. Rice does not. This doesn't mean that I rule her out as a candidate, but it does mean that it seems odd to beat a drum for someone about whom we know so little.

Bruce Hayden said...

Simon,

The problem I see with your laundry list of non-positions is that Dr. Rice's real strength has always been in foreign relations. When Bill Clinton was running for president, in 1992, you could arguably say that his domestic platform was more important than his foreign relations platform, esp. since we had just won the Cold War, etc.

I, for one, am not ready for a replay of the Clinton wishful thinking foreign policy debacle of the 1990s. I don't think we can afford that sort of wishful thinking unrealistic foreign and military policy during a time of war. And Dr. Rice brings a much clearer, more decisive position here than do most of the potential Democratic candidates, and, in particular, than does Hillary Clinton.

amba said...

"What about seeming 'genuinely uninterested in running for office' would not also be exactly the way she would want to seem if she were genuinely interested in running for President?"

I was fascinated to discover that there's a word for this behavioral strategy -- and it's one traditionally associated with women.

Bruce Hayden said...

I think that she is the preferred candidate for a lot of us on the right. She has been for awhile, and I expect will continue to be for the forseeble future.

Probably the biggest thing is that with her, we would have an unbroken foreign policy with the Bush (43) Administration. After all, she is the major implementor of it, and one of its architects.

Needless to say though, she also has a very compelling personal story. This is just a part of it - growing up in segreated Birmingham, and being a playmate of one of those girl killed in that KKK church bombing. Rising from this through hard work and brains to being probably the most powerful woman on Earth today. Fourth in line for the presidency, etc.

Bruce Hayden said...

To save everyone the effort, Amba's word for Dr. Rice is "coyness".

ALH ipinions said...

She will be drafted. And, the more she demurs the more appealing a candidate she becomes.

Condi vs Hillary

Bruce Hayden said...

Simon suggests that Rice wouldn't make a viable candidate becuase she hasn't disclosed policies on any number of domestic issues apparently near and dear to his heart.

But one that she has talked on is the 2nd Amdt. I think the best way to describe her is as a 2nd Amdt. absolutist. She believes it to be an extremely important individual, not group or national, right.

This again comes from her life in the segregated south, where her father, and the other men in her African-American community, protected their community from violence by patrolling the streets with guns, during times of racial unrest.

She wonders whether she would even be alive today if these men hadn't owned guns and been willing to use them to protect their community.

reader_iam said...

The word of the day, though,is accismus, which doesn't have the "girly" baggage ...

Smile.

DCWilly1 said...

Hey Bruce: Yeah, I'm sure Condi and her posse were walking around the streets of segregated Alabama with AK-47s and hollow-point bullets specifically designed to maim and pierce the body armor used by police. Your comment is absurd.

Bruce Hayden said...

One thing that I find interesting about a Rice candidacy is how it recasts many of the debates.

I mentioned above gun control. Those favoring gun control often implicitly believe that we should be able to depend on the police for protection. Dr. Rice's rejoinder is more than likely that gun control in the South was a way to get guns away from the Blacks, and, thus, make them more vulnerable to intimidation. And who, besides Sen. Byrd, D-KKK, would blame her for this - that maybe she is alive today because her father and the other men in their community had guns when they needed them to protect that community from racial violence.

I would suggest the same to some extent with religion. Dr. Rice, whose first dream was to be a concert pianist, has spent much of her adult life playing the organ at church. How threatening really is the religion of the church organist?

Of course, one reason that a lot of Republicans are salivating over her running is what this would do to the Democratic solidarity of the African American community. She is one of them, like Bill Clinton, the first "Black" president could never be. Scarred by the racial unrest of the 1960s. Raised by a minister. Quietly religious. Plays the organ every Sun. at church. And meanwhile rising to be the most powerful woman and most powerful Black in the world today.

Bruce Hayden said...

DCWilly1

Full auto AK-47s were illegal then, and are even more illegal today. And if they aren't fully automatic, then what is the big deal about them? Look dangerous? I think a lot of gun enthusiasts would prefer a semiautomatic hunting rifle in that case.

But if we were able to transplant today back to then, I have no doubt that the men of that community would prefer just that, AK-47s with hollow point bullets to what they had, presumably a motly assortment of rifles and shotguns.

Menlo Bob said...

The day after the 2000 election vote was certified in Florida (and before the real contest) I shook Dr. Rice's hand in church and wished her luck. I also witnessed her determined fight for fical reform at Stanford and the ensuing pushback from faculty. My neighbor, at the time, served with her in a high level capacity and opposed her activities and politics. That being the norm for Stanford. Inspite of this she generally enjoyed good press locally. Nevertheless, I remain unsure of where she stands on a number of issues and would await clarification before jumping on that bandwagon.

amba said...

No, Bruce, the word isn't "coyness." That wouldn't have been worth a link, even a coy one.

amba said...

Go back to her March Washington Times interview for her position on abortion: "mildly pro-choice" and "kind of libertarian." Would the religious right go for it? Rice "suggested it's a moot point. 'I'm not trying to be elected.'"

EddieP said...

Simon

Excellent list of questions. Why weren't they posed to John Kerry before he became the nominee?

Since Condi has announced that she is not running, isn't this an exercise in naval gazing? Regards

Simon said...

Bruce,
Part of your statement seems strangely familiar:

"Dr. Rice brings a much clearer, more decisive position here than do most of the potential Democratic candidates, and, in particular, than does Hillary Clinton."

Isn't this reminiscent of the language of the Harriet Miers apologists, who - in upbraiding those of us who voice concern over the nomination - say that "sure, she's not a Scalia/Thomas-type, but would you prefer someone the Democrats would appoint?"The last time I checked, the false dilemma was still considered a logical fallacy.

Of course "Dr. Rice brings a much clearer, more decisive position here than do most of the potential Democratic candidates, and, in particular, than does Hillary Clinton" - so what? We do not, yet, have a choice to make between Dr. Rice and some unnamed Democratic candidate. I find it hard to imagine any Republican would fail to vote for Rice over any Democratic candidate. But this is not the choice that is before us. Rather, the choice is between Dr. Rice and various other potential Republican nominees, many of whom offer no less robust a vision of foreign policy than does Dr. Rice.

Simon said...

ALH ipinions-
"the more she demurs the more appealing a candidate she becomes."

This I agree with - under the rubric that "a President worth voting for wouldn't run for the job."


Bruce-
"Simon suggests that Rice wouldn't make a viable candidate becuase she hasn't disclosed policies on any number of domestic issues apparently near and dear to his heart."

Two misunderstandings in one sentence, my friend!

First, the list of issues has nothing to do with those issues which I feel strongly about - indeed, I am actively hostile to the entire concept of the modern Presidency, and would far prefer for the Congress to take back those powers which the executive has arrogated to itself since Andrew Jackson's administration. Rather, the list reflects issues that I would think to be relevant to the President's task.

Second, I do not think that the absence of stated policy positions makes her any less of a "viable candidate." My point is not that I don't want Condi to run, my point is that statements such as the one that you offer - " I think that she is the preferred candidate for a lot of us on the right" - which are tantamount to unqualified support seem flat-out weird when so little is known of her policy views.

If the list reflected my personal concerns, I would want to know where she stands on abortion, what kind of Justices she will appoint to the Supreme Court, and what kind of briefs her Department of Justice would file. Like you, I'm very happy with the Bush administration's foreign policy, and I see no reason to doubt that she would continue it. If the arrangement of government were closer to the original understanding of the Presidency, and the Congress were more assertive (Clinton characterized Newt Gingrich's 1995 vision of government as being that Clinton would be the President, and he'd make foreign policy, and Newt, being the Speaker of the House, would be sort of like the Prime Minister, and he and the Congress would make domestic policy. I like that idea a lot), then I would agree with you that her views on domestic stuff were less important. Sadly, we must live in the world we're dealt, so unless and until someone figures out a way to go back in time and whack Jackson (or at least, until the Congress grows a pair), we're stuck with these concerns.

Simon said...

"Excellent list of questions. Why weren't they posed to John Kerry before he became the nominee?"

Perhaps because the democrats were afraid of the answers? ;)

It seems to me that in the last election cycle, the Democrats had three priorities, and only three: beat Bush, defeat Bush, and get more electoral college votes than Bush. Their criterion for a candidate was, therefore, anyone with a pulse who was as little like Bush as possible, and who could beat Bush. They made the wrong choice, IMHO. I would have nominated Governor Dean. Sadly, however, that ceased to be a possibility when, sometime during his primary campaign, Dean discovered that the people preferred Howlin' Howard. When that happened, the good man that was Governor Dean was destroyed. He's more machine than man, now, you know.

Governor Dean would have won 49 states. Howlin' Howard would have lost 49 states. So they could have done better, but they could have done worse.

Too Many Jims said...

"Of course, one reason that a lot of Republicans are salivating over her running is what this would do to the Democratic solidarity of the African American community. She is one of them."

Why stop there? She is a woman, so all women will vote for her. She is an academic so this will damage the Democratic solidarity of the academic community. She spent a substantial portion of her adult life in California, so she will damage the Democratic solidarity in California.

Do I think she would garner more black votes than GWB? Sure, then again, it would be tough to do worse. But suggesting that they are going to migrate en masse to Rice because she is Black, really oversimplifies the matter.

Plus, Blacks make up (off the top of my head) 10-15% of the population. They register to vote and vote at a rate that is not as high as the overall population. Is it possible that the number of people who vote against her (or don't vote) based on her gender or skin color is in excess of the number of votes she would receive based on her skin color.

Finally, as a practical matter, which "blue state" is going to turn into a "red state" because of the color of her skin?

Nice that the party which is opposed to affirmative action is goig to use skin color as one of the primary arguments for a candidate.

Michael H said...

"Nice that the party which is opposed to affirmative action is goig to use skin color as one of the primary arguments for a candidate."

Well, the primary reason many of us support her is that we think she's superbly qualified and would make a good president. The fact that her candidacy would mess with the heads of the race-baiting party and the media that continues to claim, in spite of all evidence to the contrary, that conservatives hate blacks and women, is just a nice by-product.

Charlie Eklund said...

Simon: I think you missed the knockout-punch question...where does Condi Rice stand on Dingle-Norwood!

Steven said...

DCWilly1 --

Perhaps before you rant on specifics of ammunition, you should learn the basics about them?

You see, armor-piercing rounds have low expansion; their design is to concentrate the force of the bullet on to as small a place as possible, to penetrate armor in a small area and deliver at least some damage beyond.

High-expansion bullets, like "hollow points", however, are designed to spread out the force along as wide an area as possible on contact with human flesh, to create a wound channel as wide as possible.

The result is that a "hollow point" is the worst possible round type for armor penetration, while an "armor-piercing" bullet is the type of bullet that inflicts the least injury to an unprotected human.

Now, one can create a round that's halfway between those two extremes, and so more likely to penetrate armor than a "hollow-point" and does more wounding than armor-piercing. That compromise is the standard bullet.

amba said...

Simon: LOL! In other words, anyone who wants the job of president is, by definition, nuts, and therefore unfit for the job!

DCWilly1 said...

Thanks, Cliff Clavin for the skinny on ammo.

The Exalted said...

I, for one, am not ready for a replay of the Clinton wishful thinking foreign policy debacle of the 1990s. I don't think we can afford that sort of wishful thinking unrealistic foreign and military policy during a time of war.

ah, that was good for a laugh

Steven said...

Oooh, the dreaded "Cliff Clavin" reference. You so put me in my place!

Walter said...

Just what I would expect from an anti-gun nut. Use poor/bad terminology about guns and ammo and then resort to an ad hominem attack when corrected.

Walter said...

[Off topic]
One of the things that I love about blogs and the comments that are left is the number of people that know stuff and are willing to share it.

In a verbal conversion, being a "Cliff Clavin" tends to disrupt the flow of the conversion, but in a blog & comments, there is time and space for people to supply the details that get dropped during verbal commincations. Maybe it is just my inner geek showing, but I like knowning the details about how things work. If those details also show that dcwilly1 can't even get the facts straight in attempt to do a hit and run insult posting, why should we believe any of the other items in dcwilly1's comment (which ironically, setup an absurd strawman version of what Bruce said and tried to dismiss Bruce [and Condi's] resonable statements on because of his injected absurdity.)

But, I should get back to work and stop responding to the Troll that is dcwilly1, as feeding them only causes them to come back.

Bruce Hayden said...

I think that one answer to the point about the party opposed to affirmative action being excited about running an African American woman is that that is why it would be so effective.

Dr. Rice is not Secretary of State right now, nor was she National Security Advisor because she is Black. She got those jobs because she is good. Very good.

The reason that a lot of conservatives oppose affirmative action is that we prefer a race blind society. MLK called it when he said: "I have a dream that my four little children will one day live in a nation where they will not be judged by the color of their skin but by the content of their character."

What a Rice nomination would say is that the Republicans (and the country if she were to win) believe in this race blind society where anyone, regardless of color, race, religion, etc., can rise to any level, as long as they are smart and work hard enough.

I personally think that is a much better message to be sending the inner city Blacks, Hispanics, etc. than that their failure is not their own fault and that they are somehow owed something by society because of it.

OddD said...

What about seeming "genuinely uninterested in running for office" would not also be exactly the way she would want to seem if she were genuinely interested in running for President?

I can't be the only one thinking of this scene:

"Only the true Messiah denies His divinity!"
"What? What sort of chance does that give me? All right, I am! I am the Messiah!"
"He is! He is the Messiah!"
"Now, f*ck off!"

knoxgirl said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
knoxgirl said...

"...Nice that the party which is opposed to affirmative action is goig to use skin color as one of the primary arguments for a candidate."

Condi didn't get the job she has now--or any of her other impressive positions--because she's black. Or female, for that matter. She is intelligent, she's extremely accomplished, and she seems to excel at everything she tackles. That's why people want her to run--not because she's black.

You're the one who's reducing her down to her race.

(my previous comment I removed because it contained an "ad hominem" or whatever that I now regret

Prometheus said...

A Rice candidacy will reveal the mass of Republican voters to be a lot more on the old school bigot side than they’d care to admit while not garnering the support from the black community that they might be hoping for. Footage of her squeaky, stuttering apologia regarding domestic spying and explicit falsehood regarding the War of Our Needlessly Dead Sons and Daughters won’t bode well for her either.