Condoleezza Rice. First female national security adviser, first black woman to serve as Secretary of State, and Stanford professor. But could she be the GOP’s first black woman vice presidential nominee?
Joseph Curl of the Washington Times reports that Condi is ready to get back into politics. Her new book, No Higher Honor was just released in October. And if you believe the rumor mill, she is eager to get the nod for the number two slot on the Republican presidential ticket.
For a party with a lackluster field of presidential candidates, a Condi Rice candidacy could mean salvation for the Republicans. Or maybe not.
Curl suggests that the former Bush top diplomat would be a “spicy rice dish” for Republican diners — which, as an aside, conjures up a peculiar type of sexual and racial imagery that falls beyond the scope of this analysis. Nevertheless, he raises an issue that is worth exploring.
With the exception of Jon Huntsman, sometimes Ron Paul, and Mitt Romney on certain days — depending on which direction the wind is blowing — the current Republican field offers next to nothing for moderate voters.
After all, this is the crowd that has nothing but bad things to say about gays, immigrants, Muslims and other minority groups. They would build an electric fence on the border to kill Mexicans who attempt to cross over to the U.S., and they want to eliminate child labor laws and make children work as janitors. They would deprive a woman of her reproductive rights. And these folks would send out the U.S. Marshals to round up and arrest controversial judges.
Moreover, the Republicans have positioned themselves as the party of the 1 percent, those who refuse to cooperate with the White House, and would cut taxes for the rich but not extend the payroll tax cut for the working class.
The entry of Condoleezza Rice into the fray as running mate to the eventual GOP nominee could counter the magic of an energized Democratic ticket with Hillary Clinton. If President Obama performs a cabinet switch, as conventional wisdom suggests, and has Vice President Joe Biden and Secretary of State Hillary Clinton trading jobs, then Rice could provide the Republican answer to Hillary as the VP pick.
Former Secretary Rice brings a number of positives to the table. She is brilliant, talented and scholarly in an anti-intellectual party that often shuns scientific evidence, the f acts, and book learning. In 2008, Forbes listed her as number 7 of the 100 most powerful women. Polls have given her high favorability ratings, the highest of any ex-Bush administration official.
She called race a “birth defect” that will always be a factor in American life, and lamented that public education is no longer helping to lift African-Americans out of poverty.Placing a black woman in the VP slot could conceivably convince some moderate and independent voters that the Republican Party is reasonable on matters of race. Attracting moderates back to the party, particularly moderate women, would be a laudable goal, though it is questionable that the GOP can attain this with Condi Rice on the ticket — especially if Clinton is Obama’s running mate this time around.
Any Republican attempt to skim off a few moderate white votes is more realistic than any overtures to the black community. Republicans never captured more than 12 percent of the black vote on their best day. In the age of Obama, with blatant conservative attacks on the president based on race, African-American voters show no signs of turning their backs on the first black president.
Moreover, black voters have no articulated reason to reject Obama and shift their allegiances to a nearly exclusively white, ultra-right wing party that shuns diversity and does not share their values. After all, the GOP cuts social programs of benefit to blacks, and cripples the black community by slashing public sector jobs . Republican attempts to erode the voting rights of blacks, Latinos and other Democratic constituents through voter ID laws only feed the perception that the GOP is an inhospitable place for people of color.
And in any case, Rice is not the vehicle to bring blacks back to the party of Lincoln. The black community has been ambivalent towards her at best, and in some instances downright sour, with questions concerning her racial identity and preferences. Some of her statements have not eased their concerns. For example, Dr. Rice once said that her role models are “old white men.” She also said women and minorities should give people the benefit of the doubt, and avoid crying sexism or racism.
Moreover, Rice has baggage, heavy Samsonite baggage, in the form of her role in the Bush administration and close ties to the Bush family. It is reported that nothing happened in the Bush White House without her approval. The Bush administration was wholly unpopular with blacks. Further, the Iraq War, of which Rice was a major promoter, is now unpopular with the Tea Party crowd, who blames Bush for spending too much.
Perhaps Rice is aware of the anti-Bush sentiment still out there, which could explain her attempts to distance herself from Bush, and rehabilitate herself. Former Bush Secretary of State Colin Powell engaged in some of this behavior when he endorsed Obama for president. Dr. Rice regretted taking her New York vacation during Hurricane Katrina, when she shopped for Ferragamo shoes while people drowned in New Orleans. While she seemed to deflect blame from Bush for the hurricane aftermath, she said her boss had a “race problem” during that time.
And she revealed the conflicts that Condoleezza Rice had with former vice president Dick Cheney. Rice accused Cheney of “cheap shots” and attacking her integrity in his memoir.
But would the Republicans accept Condoleezza Rice as their vice presidential candidate? The problems Condi might have with the Republican base came to light on a recent episode of The 700 Club, when co-host Kristi Watts asked Rice to name the food she must have on Thanksgiving. “It’s mac and cheese,” said Rice.
Pat Robertson, the show’s host, was confused. “What is this mac and cheese, is that a black thing?” he asked.