I just read an interesting article by Nina Easton for Fortune about her conversation with former Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice and suggests she’s the “should-be face of the GOP.” She references Dr. Rice’s incredible intelligence and broad appeal that couples with an intriguing personal story that results in an interesting and compelling public figure that can be a positive force in the Republican party.
I have a great deal of admiration for Dr. Rice, and I find her to be incredibly articulate and knowledgable. There’s no doubt that she’s a foreign policy heavyweight, and she offers some measured criticism of the current diplomatic trajectory of the nation. As a person, she comes across as fairly genuine, and I for one would welcome an increased presence in the national debate.
But can she provide an avenue to increasing the GOP’s broader appeal? There’s no doubt that she may be too “Bush” for many, and as two-term bureaucrat for the previous administration she has a lot of baggage that can be thrown back at her. It’s unclear how much blame for earlier failures can be legitimately placed at her feet – as National Security Advisor and Secretary of State, I’m not sure if she was a formulator of policy or more of an executor of someone else’s. Guilt by association remains a powerful force in American politics (for one party anyway). But being attached directly or indirectly to the failed policies of previous administrations hasn’t stopped Zbigniew Brzezinski, Henry Kissinger, Madeline Albright, and numerous others from remaining potent forces in the national spotlight.
In any case, Rice’s present and future actions will overshadow whatever criticism there is of her past association. Some have posited that she might be an excellent Presidential candidate, leading her to publicly rule out a 2008 bid. For a future push to have much success, she’d have to weigh in far more heavily on domestic concerns as opposed to simply running on her strong foreign policy credentials.
The point is moot, however, if she remains on the sidelines. If her personal wish is to stay focused on private sector pursuits, then I respect that desire. But I believe that her voice is of value to the national discourse, and would be beneficial as another strong and positive national figure for the GOP.