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)

Tuesday, September 11, 2012

Rice and Noonan’s brush with perfection

There’s a grace that seems to descend on intelligent women who’ve worked for Republican presidents. Condoleezza Rice was at George Bush’s side through each of his Middle East adventures, and Peggy Noonan wrote speeches for the sunny side of the Ronald Reagan presidency. Both are listened to respectfully, whether they abandon their critical faculties or not.

Here’s the conclusion of Rice’s speech to the Republicans in Tampa—a speech that many judged as the finest and wisest of the convention:

“Mitt Romney and Paul Ryan have the experience and the integrity and the vision to lead us – they know who we are, what we want to be and what we offer the world.
That is why this is a moment – an election – of consequence. Because it just has to be – that the most compassionate and freest country on the face of the earth – will continue to be the most powerful!”

Here’s Peggy Noonan in her blog for the Wall St. Journal today, outlining what state of mind Mitt Romney should take to his first debate with Barack Obama:

“What Mitt Romney has to show is command, talent, resolve. He has to move with firmness, strength. Americans don’t really want someone they’d like to go out and have a beer with, they want someone who can help them afford a beer. First things first. Romney at this point should just forget likability—let’s just say he’s likable enough. He needs people to see certainty, guts, ability, and heft. Americans are tired of trying to like these guys, they want to respect them. They’d like to feel honest awe.”

Can you imagine Pat Buchanan or Dick Cheney imagining, let alone getting away with such complacent, romantic nonsense?

A black conservative academic may want America to be more compassionate, and any speechwriter for any president will want her words to suspend our disbelief and leave us in a state of awe. However, Rice and Noonan shouldn’t be able to utter such sugary platitudes about who Americans are and what Americans want in a president without being laughed at.

Maybe, it was only an awkward fleeting period in the emancipation of smart women. Let’s hope, however, that the next generation of powerful women who ride in the back seat with future presidents don’t come out of the experience as hero-worshippers and shameless flatterers.

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