Of all the dumb suggestions for Mitt Romney’s VP pick, none is more inane than Condoleezza Rice. The number of stories concerning her potential candidacy are enough to raise concern that someone in the Romney camp might actually think this is a good idea.
To begin with the obvious, she has never run for public office, brings (rightly or wrongly) all the baggage from the Bush presidency and is to Romney’s left on a number of issues. (“Former Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice declared in a recent interview that she is proudly evangelical but also distanced herself from many of her fellow believers by saying that she tends to support abortion rights and civil unions for gay couples, and she feels evangelicals too often alienate others with in-your-face rhetoric.”) She has defended racial preferences in higher education. Her views on taxes, the economy, entitlement reform and most domestic issues are largely unknown.
But more important, to be blunt, she was bad at both her jobs in the Bush administration. Her role as national security adviser was to provide information and an orderly process to enable the president to make decisions. Whether you read her memoirs or former vice president Dick Cheney’s or former defense secretary Donald Rumsfeld’s, it is clear she didn’t do that job effectively. As this report explained:
[A] former top Bush administration colleague, David Kay, charged with finding unconventional weapons after the Iraq invasion, referred to Ms. Rice in Bob Woodward’s “State of Denial” as “probably the worst national security adviser since the office was created.” . . .
Forbes has twice ranked her as the world’s most powerful woman, and Time has listed her as one of the world’s most influential people four times.
But a lot of her gloss has diminished under the steady drumbeat of exposés and tell-all books about the unraveling of the Bush administration and specifically about her inability, as national security adviser, to effectively arbitrate the running turf war between Secretary of State Colin L. Powell and Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld over Iraq policy, a war which she, and President Bush, allowed Mr. Rumsfeld to win.
Although her expertise was in Russia, she could not dissuade Bush from looking into Vladimir Putin’s eyes and finding promise in his soul.
And when she went to the State Department, things got really bad. She was generally unenthusiastic about the Iraq surge. Disregarding the wise council of experts on Israel and the Palestinians, she insisted on pushing for the 2006 Palestinian elections, which Hamas won and which led to the disastrous events in Gaza. She cheered for talks with North Korea (critics who say George W. Bush’s second termis indistinguishable from Obama’s presidency on this topic are precisely right).
As for President Obama, Rice has been quite the cheerleader, never adding her voice to the list of responsible critics who have challenged him on everything from China policy to Syria to the Green Revolution. Recall this from 2010 :
Appearing at the Aspen Institute in Washington, D.C., Friday evening, Rice said, “Nothing in this president’s methods suggests this president is other than a defender of America’s interests.”
Rice’s book, an account of growing up in segregated Birmingham, Ala., doesn’t deal with the controversies of her service in the Bush administration. All week she has refused to join in criticism of the current administration while defending the decisions of the last one, including the invasion of Iraq.
Speaking to Fox News’s Bill O’Reilly, she praised her successor, Hillary Clinton: “I think she is doing a lot of the right things. ... She is very tough ... I think she has done a fine job, I really do.”
The best you can say about those pushing her candidacy is that they are ignorant of her record and her views. The likely most accurate take on this press for Rice is that it is the worst form of tokenism and a transparent ploy to gain favor with women and/or African American voters. In any event, if not Romney adviser Beth Myers, let’s hope there is someone in the candidate’s camp bright enough to strangle the nascent pro-Rice lobby.