Could America elect it’s first woman president and its first African-American president in one quick shot?
Within three years we will have the answer to that question, but the answer at this point of the game is yes.
There is no doubt that Condoleeza Rice is a strinking figure, and an attractive one for a Republican party that wants to retain power while driving the last nails into the coffin of the Democratic Party. What better way than putting forward Ms. Rice – an African-American with Civil Rights credentials (born in a segregated South to parents of limited means) who rose above her station through hard work and sound judgement to occupy some of the highest offices in the land. She represents the libertarian, self-made ideal that runs through the Republican Party and has been strained by the dynastic Bush legacy of the past generation. The talk of Jeb in ‘08 is enough to make many under the “big tent” call their therapists to boost their Zoloft dosages in horror at the notion. Two Bushes are enough – even for those of us who voted for the last one.
She has experience at foreign policy. But does she have substance at domestic affairs?
This is where the dream of President Rice conflicts with reality – since her only experience at governing was as Provost at Stanford University, which isn’t exactly in the “requirements section” of the job description of President.
Condi has style. There is a JFK-like quality about her, a bigger-than-life persona that has grown with her tenure in the Bush Administration. Style can go very far; after all, Reagan had it in spades (although he also had experience running the biggest state of the Union too). She has a no-nonsense approach that may have come about by hanging around with Donald Rumsfeld, but she also is an intellectual – a thinker or policy-wonk like Clinton.
Social Security trouble may not be her bag, but does anyone seriously doubt she can’t grasp the issue? Compare domestic policies with waging war in the Middle East or dealing with Europe, and her inexperience in domestic issues seems less of a problem. Her biggest difficulty would be dealing with the egos in Congress – and that’s where a good arm-twister and horse-trader aka “Chief of Staff” comes into play. With a Rove-clone behind her, there is nothing that would prevent her from doing an adequate job as president.
Foreign policy-wise she would have more experience than any other president since Bush I or possibly even Nixon.
As Iraq stabilizes, the wisdom of the invasion will boost Rice’s stature at home and abroad. Plus, symbolism goes a long way in foreign policy and what better symbol could America have as its face to the world than Condi Rice? Just imagine her meeting with Prince Abdallah in Saudi Arabia – a place where she couldn’t drive because she’s a woman and couldn’t worship because she’s a Christian.
Another important factor in choosing Condi as the Republican Candidate in 2008 would be to force the Democrats to run Hillary against her. Race and sex matters to the Democratic Party which has been fixated on both issues for the last 140 years – and there is no way that they would run a white guy against Condi. That would leave either a black man or a white woman, and of the two the Dems would believe America is more open to a female president than it is to an African-American male one.
There are only three strong women in the Democratic Party today: Barbara Boxer, Nancy Pelosi and Hillary. Of the 3, they would choose Hillary as the most electable as they chose Kerry against the more popular Dean in Feb 2004.
And here’s the rub: Hillary energizes the Republican Base in a way that no other Democrat does.
So Condi presents a win-win-win for the Republicans: An intellectual African-American woman to snag the progressives, a Christian – to keep the Religious Right happy, and the anti-Hillary vote for those who can’t say Hillary’s name without spitting it.
I believe that I have presented a valid and rational case for selecting Condoleeza Rice as Republican Party candidate in 2008.