By Selywn Duke
With the rumor that Condoleezza Rice is a frontrunner to be Mitt Romney’s vice-presidential pick, she’s the talk of the town. She’s so intelligent, so sophisticated, so statesmanlike and so scholarly that she could make you wonder if Hillary Clinton really ever was “the most intelligent woman in America.” That’s the pitch, anyway. But when you check this Rice’s ingredients, you have to ask, where’s the beef?
When assessing this, I’m reminded of how the late Christopher Hitchens put Bill Clinton’s so-called intellectual prowess in perspective. The 42nd president has a long history of making statements, Hitchens pointed out, yet what has he ever said that was profound or memorable? Of course, like Clinton and “I feel your pain” or lawyering the word “is,” Rice has made memorable statements. But they’re all hamburger helper—way past the sell-by date.
For instance, when defending the fool’s errand of trying to put a square democratic peg in a round Islamic hole, Rice once said, “We should note that unlike in our Constitutional Convention, the Iraqis have not made a compromise as bad as the one that made my ancestors three-fifths of a man.” Now, let’s put aside the fact that the Iraqis have incorporated Sharia into their constitution. Informed people understand the origin of the three-fifths language. To wit: it was slave states that wanted blacks counted as whole people because this would increase their representation in Congress and hence their power. Northern states, however, wanted to minimize slave-state power and thus didn’t want the slaves counted at all. The result, as is usually the case in democratic republics, was a compromise: the three-fifths compromise.
The only question now is whether Rice didn’t fully understand this—and she probably knows something about the origin of the constitutional language since she called it a “compromise”—or if she was just aiming for a cheap applause line (and a cheap shot at America). Regardless, was hers an intelligent comment?
It should also be noted that European peoples might not have been the first to practice slavery, but they were the first to eliminate it. Yet, to this day, Muslims still practice slavery in places such as Africa. Thus, what is to be concluded when Rice utters, as is her wont, divisive comments such as “when the Founding Fathers said ‘We the people,’ they didn’t mean me”? Is it an intelligent thing to do?
Then try this Rice comment on for size. She also said when defending Iraq policy that it is the kind of people who “once believed that blacks were unfit for democracy” who say “that the people of the Middle East, perhaps because of their color or their creed or their culture or even perhaps because of their religion, are somehow incapable of democracy.”
Now, we know it was Rice’s job under George W. Bush to defend his administration’s policies, but the above simply was not an intelligent defense. How can you conflate an inborn physical characteristic such as skin color with creed, culture and religion, which involve belief? Does Rice not understand why John Adams stated, “Our Constitution was made only for a moral and religious people. It is wholly inadequate to the government of any other”? If a people’s beliefs don’t influence its compatibility with democracy, what does?
Following Rice’s logic out, we’d have to say that a people imbued with Nazi or communist doctrine couldn’t be unfit for democracy, either, as such things are simply “creeds.” Translated, her comment means that beliefs simply don’t matter. Of course, I don’t think this actually is her belief; she surely just didn’t think things through. But is it intelligent to make public pronouncements on matters of import without thinking things through?
Add to this the fact that Rice described herself as “mildly pro-choice,” wishes the U.S. would have signed on to the global-warming scam treaty the Kyoto Protocol, and was so enthusiastic about Barack Obama’s 2008 win that it indicated she might have voted for him, and what kind of profile emerges? She simply is not a conservative—except maybe in the European sense of the term. And, we have to ask, is this an intelligent political ideology?
If you think me harsh, note that I spoke only of Condoleezza Rice’s remarks and positions; I didn’t say she was unintelligent. I’m sure she is so in the sense that my family doctor, a couple of relatives and some other people I’ve known are intelligent. I’m sure she plays the piano beautifully and I know she excelled at academics, but this doesn’t qualify one for high office. In fact, she reminds me of someone. You know the type: he has his head in books all day, gets straight A’s, spends many hours a week cloistered practicing an instrument, but has no common sense. To paraphrase Mark Twain, she seems like the kind of person who has let her schooling interfere with her education.
Given Rice’s positions, one may wonder why she’s as popular as she is (63 percent of respondents in a Drudge poll want her as Romney’s pick). Well, the answer reminds me of something. Rice once said that what attracted her to George W. Bush was that he spoke of the “soft bigotry of low expectations,” something she understands well. Ironically, though, this is precisely the phenomenon attracting many conservatives to Rice. After all, would a white man with her history and political positions draw so much conservative support? Would we even be talking about him?
Fact: we wouldn’t even know about him.
Why? Because President Bush never would have chosen Rice to be secretary of state were it not for her race and sex. The reality is that, just like Obama, she was an affirmative-action selection.
Of course, this is where some may opine that, with beating Obama being the priority, this is precisely what we need. I’ll see your epidermal melanin content and raise you an X chromosome. But don’t bank on this carrying the day, as it’s hardly a given that Rice will sweeten the dish for voters. After all, staunch traditionalists won’t like her for the reasons I’ve outlined here, devoutly Democrat blacks will dismiss her as an Aunt Thomasina, and the swinging-to-and-fro middle may not like her ties to still unpopular Bush. So not only is Rice disastrous ideologically, she’s at best risky politically.
So keep searching the menu. The Romney has already been ordered, paid for and cooked up, but hold the Rice. We need something that will stick to our ribs.