March 12, 2005

Rice running for President.

Here's the transcript of the Washington Times's interview with Condoleezza Rice, in which she leaves open the possibility of running for President in '08. That prompts follow up questions about "domestic policy," which she's had little occasion to talk about so far. "Domestic policy" turns out to be abortion, because, unfortunately, abortion has far too much to do with how people think about who should be President:
[Interviewer]: [O]ne of the things people are confused about and they understand your foreign policy positions, you've been very clear about those but there is some confusion about some of your domestic policy issues. And I know that's not your bailiwick, but, for example, I interviewed Colin Powell last year as secretary of state and he talked about how he was pro-choice, how he was pro-affirmative action, how he was against an amendment that would ban the burning of a flag, these kinds of social issues. I "googled" Condi Rice and abortion and I've gotten so much murky, contradictory information. Could you clear it up for us today? Are you pro-life? Are you pro-choice? What is your thought on abortion?

Miss Rice: I believe if you go back to 2000, when I helped the president in the campaign, I said that I was, in effect, kind of Libertarian on this issue, and meaning by that that I have been concerned about a government role in this issue. I'm a strong proponent of parental choice, of parental notification. I'm a strong proponent of a ban on late-term abortion. These are all things that I think unite people and I think that that's where we should be. I've called myself at times mildly pro-choice.

[Interviewer]: That was the phrase that kept coming up.

Miss Rice: Yeah, mildly pro-choice. That's what that means. I think that there are a lot of things that we can unite around, and that's where I would tend to be. I'm very comfortable with the president's view that we have to respect and need to have a culture that respects life. This should be an issue pretty infrequently because we ought to have a culture that says that, "Who wants to have an abortion? Who wants to see a daughter or a friend or, you know, a sibling go through something like that?" And so I believe the president has been in exactly the right place about this, which is, we have to respect the culture of life and we have to try and bring people to have respect for it and make this as rare a circumstance as possible.

[Interviewer]: The only reason I even brought it up was because there is a school of thought that says that no conservative Republican can be elected president if they are not firmly pro-life. I know you haven't ruled anything in or out but...

Miss Rice: I'm not trying to be elected.

[Interviewer]: But it sounds like you do not wish to change the laws that now allow ...

Miss Rice: Well, I don't spend my entire life thinking about these issues. You know, I spend my time really thinking about the foreign policy issues. But you know that I'm a deeply religious person and so, from my point of view, these extremely difficult moral issues where we have — where we're facing issues with technology and the prolongation of life and the fact that very, very young babies are able to survive now — very small babies are able to survive — these are great moral issues.

What I do think is that we should not have the federal government in a position where it is forcing its views on one side or the other. So, for instance, I've tended to agree with those who do not favor federal funding for abortion, because I believe that those who hold a strong moral view on the other side should not be forced to fund it.

A nicely articulated middle position. Her weaving in the topic of religion prompted this line of inquiry.
[Interviewer]: You mentioned your deep religious faith. We talked to the president the other day in our interview with him, and he talked about how his faith and how it bears on the conduct of his duties. Could you talk about how your faith bears on your duties as secretary of state and how?

Miss Rice: Well, first, my faith is a part of everything that I do. You know, it's integral to who I am and it's not something that I can set outside of anything that I do because it's so integral to who I am. And prayer is very important to me and a belief that if you ask for it, you will be guided. Now, that doesn't mean that I think that God will tell me what to do on, you know, the Iran nuclear problem. That's not how I see it. But I do believe very strongly that if you are a prayerful and faithful person, that that is a help in guiding us, as imperfect beings, to have to deal with extremely difficult and consequential matters.

As an American, when I talk to others out there in the world, particularly people who are going through processes of democratization, I would be the first to say that I think America has it right in that you can worship freely in any way that you wish, but you can also choose not to worship if you wish, and that you can choose to believe or you can choose not to believe, and that that is the genius of the American system — that somebody as deeply religious as I am is a fully appreciated and respected American as someone who has no faith at all.

So I can speak in terms of faith and my personal circumstances, but I can also, I think, speak from the perspective of an American, where I think we've gotten this balance right.

That is just brilliantly put. I so hope we are lucky enough to see -- and hear -- Condoleezza Rice run for President.

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