Seamanship Quotation

“In political activity, then, men sail a boundless and bottomless sea; there is neither harbour for shelter nor floor for anchorage, neither starting-place nor appointed destination.”
— from Michael Oakeshott's
Political Education” (1951)

Monday, July 16, 2012

Condoleezza Rice: under-employed politician or over-rated intellectual?

By popular standards of pundit speculation, Condoleezza Rice should have the nomination as Romney’s running mate nailed—for at least another week.

She’s had senior government experience—and has never raised a tax, launched an entitlement, or borrowed a cent from China. She’s a visible member of two shrinking minorities in the Republican Party. She’s an academic in a party that has exhausted its rhetoric against the pointy-headed intellectual in the White House. And Condoleezza Rice is the most popular and recognized potential candidate out there—70% of those who think they know who she is also like her.

Last week’s special reasons for catapulting her into first place in the VP guessing game were twofold: someone close to the Romney campaign said she was, and a few good sources reported that she’d just “electrified” a select audience of Romney advisors, fundraisers, and Republican elders at a private retreat in Park City, Utah. 

Good sense argues that these reasons aren’t good enough.

Governor Rick Perry was supposed to be charismatic, too, and spreading a fanciful rumor about a nice lady is better politics than fighting the other guy’s fanciful rumors about Mitt Romney’s finances. No one gets hurt.

Nevertheless, there are two rather surprising reasons for suspecting that she might end up on the ticket.

One: Romney’s speech to the NAACP last week made it brutally clear that his own campaign and his platform will make the least effort of any Republican campaign in modern history to reach out to black voters on their terms.

Romney is reconciled to make it all the way to the White House with white votes. Having a cerebral black running mate would help those white votes reconcile themselves to the idea as well.

Two: she sounds like she wants it. Just listen to Buzzfeed’s pirated audio of that 13-minute speech.

Rice slavishly repeats the most belligerent talking points of Gingrich, McCain, and Romney. She makes Ambassador Huntsman sound like a European. Her attacks on Obama’s personal leadership and affection for “entitlements” are as one-sided, alarmist, and bitter as any remarks that could be asked of—and ghosted for—any potential attack-dog for the Romney ticket.

Concern that Rice’s “moderate pro-choice” position on abortion would be too great a swallow for social conservatives is naïve. They’ll still fight against the greater evil—Barack Obama. Conversely, Romney strategists can’t hope to cut into Obama’s support amongst blacks by repeating that too many blacks are unemployed and that the highest marginal tax rate is too high.

Finally, her candidacy—along with her speech—would nicely irritate liberals and black leaders.

Romney, the artless businessman who can’t dance, could, in fact, create a scene that could arouse and enthuse the Silent Majority: there those lefties go again, rubbing our noses in past mistakes and complaining about a fine black professional who doesn’t whine, apologize for Iraq, or even talk about food stamps and universal healthcare.

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