Saturday, March 12, 2005

The Rice Advantage

In an earlier post, I suggested that Republicans should get behind Condi Rice for 2008 (yes, it’s very early, but then there’s hardly any question that certain Democrats have already decided to run in 2008, so it only makes sense to prepare our best candidates). One of my readers, Pawnking, asked the following questions in return, which I feel would be good to answer here:

1) Will she run?

That’s really the big question. The answer, I think, lies in the fact that Rice originally planned to only serve the first term as NSA (it is rumored, that Rice was offered the post of President of Harvard). Secretary of State was never in the picture when Rice joined Team W. Rice, by a number of accounts, is not overly ambitious, but she is so competent, that she becomes the obvious choice once she is considered. It happened at Stanford, at the NSC under Bush I, now in her selection as SecState. Dr. Rice understands her competency, so if she can be shown that she represents the best hope to continue the essential elements of Bush’s doctrine, I believe Dr. Rice will agree to run.

2) What red states will she risk losing?
3) What blue states will she have a good chance at stealing?

Condi Rice enjoys a unique position. For those who demand experience, she can point to six years plus under Presidents George .H.W. Bush and George W. Bush. But because she has not run before, Rice can also qualify as an outsider, untainted by the sort of scheming we have seen from McCain, Clinton, Frist, or Kerry. Rice also can begin without any apparent liabilities, so that whatever is drawn against her will have start, essentially, from scratch.

Condi’s campaign would, if successful, have three basic stages. The first stage is educating the nation at large about her qualifications. The existing grass-roots organizations (I belong to one, as an example) are already working to that end. The seond stage is the GOP race, where Condi would be at a slight disadvantage in states which have a guy they already like from previous elections (Jeb in Florida, Frist in Tennessee, etc.), but would do well in the Blue states, where she provides a welcome alternative to previous choices.

Assuming Condi could take the nomination, things would turn around. The Red states would not be likely at all to go for whatever the Democrats put out, so Condi would naturally enjoy their support, though like any party nominee, Rice would need to build support up in certain states, like Iowa and Missouri and Florida, which have traditionally been more Purple of late than Red or Blue. The Democrats would still own most of the Northeast, where Common Sense appears to have been banned, but a Rice ticket would be very attractive in California, creating a truly nightmarish scenario for the Left.

4) Will she be able to campaign effectivly with no experience?

The answer to that lies in Dr. Rice’s performance at the public 9/11 Committee character assassination hearings. Ben Veniste and his cohorts launched an all-out attack on Rice and Bush, and tried every manner of insinuation against her. Rice was polite and eloquent, never giving an inch yet never lowering herself to the level of her attckers. Rice can handle the Democrats, as she’s already shown, and that means she can handle her GOP rivals, as well. Think about it. Race and gender used to be considered liabilities, but does anybody doubt that Dr. Rice nullifies that possibility. Only Democrats would be dumb enough to believe that the average Republican is racist or sexist, and if Rice wins the GOP nomination, just imagine the match-up with any potential Democrat nominee. The Dems seem willing to choose between a poseur (Hillary pretending to be a Centrist), or a radical Leftist (Kerry says he’ll run again, Dean says he might). Rice may well not take the majority of the black vote, but would doubtless take a greater share than any Republican in our time. Rice is well-established as intelligent and competent, so the old stereotype of the ‘weak’ or overly sensitive female is also not an issue. Speaking of issues, there is not one significant issue where the Democrats would enjoy an advantage over Rice. National Security, in all likelihood the biggest issue in the 2008 Election, will remain firmly GOP territory if Rice is the nominee. Social Security reform will either be a hot issue to take up again, or a Bush win which needs to be continued to take best effect. In either case, Rice is not going to let the Left demagogue the issue the way they’re playing it now. As for Abortion or Affirmative Action, Rice has kept her positions largely private, not because they may be liabilities, but because she is focused on the major issues for here and now. That makes it unlikely that Democrats would be able to distract her in an election condition.

It is Conventional Wisdom that only an elected official does well in campaigning, but we can see from recent history, that this is a fallacy. Ross Perot was a strange sort of mind, but it should be remembered that he led the 1992 Presidential Race for the early part of the year. Arnold Schwarzenegger had no political experience of any kind before his victory as Governor of California. A candidate needs to show they are qualified for the job, and competent in the race. Dr. Rice meets those standards, in fact her resume is better-suited for the job than anyone else out there. Yes, from her experience and past public appearances, tere is no real doubt that Dr. Rice can campaign very well. She did a great job making Bush look good, so it makes sense she will be adept in her own advocacy.

Thanks Pawnking, for the great questions.


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