Bush-Rice 2004?


Jun 10, 2002
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Bush-Rice 2004?
The rise and rise of Condi

Her presence is not obtrusive but it is constant. President Bush's national
security adviser, Condoleezza Rice, is rarely that far away from the
president. Her office is a few doors down the corridor from the Oval Office,
she's a weekend guest at Camp David almost all the time, she's central to
Russia policy, a fixture at war counsels, and reliable crisis-avoider and
manager in all types of emergencies. When Bush, for example, realized that he
would face embarrassment at this weekend's Monterrey summit on foreign aid,
it was a "Get me Condi" moment. The negotiations that significantly increased
Washington's foreign aid budget last week were conducted with the World Bank
president, James D. Wolfensohn, by Condoleezza Rice. This was too critical a
matter to be left to the usual point-man, Treasury Secretary Paul O'Neill.

Rice isn't the first National Security Adviser to exercise enormous influence
on a president. Kissinger was Nixon's, after all. But Rice's widely
acknowledged role as closest confidant to Bush is particularly striking given
the stature of her colleagues. Dick Cheney, Don Rumsfeld, and Colin Powell,
are not exactly foreign policy light-weights. They are of course critical
members of the inner circle, but it's Condi who tends to get the last,
confidential word. As Bob Woodward has reported, Bush would often ask Rice,
during the tensest moments of the post-September 11 crisis, to attend
meetings but not to speak. This wasn't because he didn't want her advice. It
was because he wanted her to be a second, silent arbiter of the discussion.
He wanted her not to advance a position, but to act as an alternate set of
eyes and ears, to check her gut against his in weighing the options. And
quite regularly, the last conference Bush has about many foreign policy
decisions is with Condi.

The relationship started with the campaign, when Rice was essentially
appointed as Bush's foreign policy guru. She has all the Establishment
credentials. Educated at the University of Denver and Notre Dame, Rice became
a professor of political science at Stanford, then special assistant to the
first president Bush, then senior fellow at the conservative Hoover
Institute, before becoming provost of Stanford. This impeccable conservative
pedigree comes with what are clearly formidable schmoozing skills. Her name
gives it away. It's from the Italian musical notation con 'dolcezza' - to
play "with sweetness" - and Rice deploys that low-key, unruffled timbre
throughout her work. It's partly what Bush likes about her. Not just the
expertise and collegiality - but the ordered precision and politesse that
helps him keep private order amid public mayhem.

And of course she's a black woman. I've kept this till last, since it's not
the most important thing about her. But it's still, it seems to me, an
amazing fact that one of the most important members of Washington's inner
circle, currently among the most powerful inner circles the world has ever
seen, is a member of a classically marginalized group. If this were a
Democratic administration, you could be sure that the press would have hailed
her as a breakthrough in civil rights, and touted her gender and ethnicity as
a central part of her appeal. The Bush style eschews that kind of
identity-mongering. But her presence sends an unmistakable signal about what
conservatism should mean now: completely comfortable with minorities, eager
to incorporate them into the heart of culture and government, but never
crudely exploitative or racially obsessed, like parts of the left.

Her presence in the administration is also, I think, medicine for the abuse
of women that occurred under Clinton. Don't get me wrong. Many Clinton
policies were friendlier to the agenda of various feminist groups than
Bush's. Clinton deserves credit for greatly increasing the number of women in
government, and for appointing many minorities and women to cabinet rank.
Clinton appointed the first female secretary of state and the first female
attorney-general, for example. But the role of those two women, Madeleine
Albright and Janet Reno, shows something less admirable about Clinton's
personal relations with female colleagues. They were never really part of the
loop. Reno was an attorney-general more estranged from her president than any
in recent history. Albright was a cipher. When real foreign policy work
needed to be accomplished, Clinton turned to men with whom he was more
comfortable - Sandy Berger, for example, or Richard Holbrooke. No American
president has ever had such a key, close political relationship with a female
equal than Bush with Rice. It's very striking, very modern and barely noticed
by a press that prefers the archetype of Bush as a macho cowboy than a
yuppie, multicultural businessman of the 21st Century.

What's more this woman is black. And by black, I mean much more like Supreme
Court Justice Clarence Thomas than Colin Powell. Powell is from a family of
Caribbean immigrants. His lineage doesn't fuse him with the scar of slavery,
segregation and Southern unrest that attaches itself to most
African-Americans. Rice was born in 1954, the year that racial segregation in
America's high-schools was finally ruled unconstitutional. But Rice, like
many others, saw little change at first, and was in segregated schools in the
South until a teenager. A nursery school class-mate of hers was one of four
girls killed when white extremists bombed a church in Alabama in 1963. But
she had a classic middle-class success story. The grand-daughter of a devout
share-cropper, she lived to see her own father become vice-chancellor of the
University of Denver and graduate from the college herself at the tender age
of 19. Driven by hard-working parents, Rice could play concert piano, speak
four languages, and earn a doctorate in her early twenties. She is perhaps an
almost painful example of what opportunities do actually exist for black
Americans with stable families and middle-class values in America today.
That's surely part of why Bush picked her. She's not just an advisor; she's
an emblem.

All of which has led some in Washington to wonder what's next for her. It can
surely only be more. Most believe that Dick Cheney may well decide to bow out
of running for vice-president again for health or family reasons. Could
Bush-Rice be the potential Republican ticket in 2004? The attractions are
obvious. Rice does several things for Bush. She helps eradicate the gender
gap, the biggest liability for Republican candidates. She could also help
Bush to achieve his dream of winning more than the paltry ten percent of
black votes he did in 2000, a demographic group Democrats desperately need to
keep locked up to keep an edge in presidential politics. Rice - coming from
the South and Mountain West, but also provost of one of California's greatest
universities - makes geographic sense as well. And, best of all, she's a
trusted conservative. Her instincts are Bush's: realist, uncompromising but
flexible in a pinch. And he trusts her deeply. When you think about it, it's
hard to think of any rival in the cabinet with the same credentials for a
future vice-presidential nomination. And what it would do for the image of
the Republican party as a whole would be momentous.

There's a catch. Rice is single. There hasn't been an unmarried candidate for
president or vice-president in modern times. This shouldn't matter, but it
might. In the hideously invasive world of today's press, Rice's private life
might be scrutinized in ways she would rightly find intolerable. But knowing
Bush, this wouldn't stop him. He picks the people he wants - against
conventional wisdom. Everyone forgets how controversial a choice Dick Cheney
was. In 2004, the shock could be exponentially larger.


Well-known member
Sep 18, 2001
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I think it would be a good move, but I love Cheney too.  Cheney would have to step aside gracefully because Bush would probably stick with him out of loyalty.  BUt if it happend to come together - a good move.


Well-known member
Nov 30, 2001
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I'd vote for them.
I think he would really win a lot of votes from this but may loss some also.


Well-known member
Jul 19, 2001
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I don't expect Cheney to be on the ticket. His health is going to put him on the sidelines.


Well-known member
Feb 4, 2002
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I too don't expect Cheney to be on the 2004 ticket.  They have to look forward to 2008.  Being the sitting VP gives one an enormous advantage.  

As to Rice, I don't know much about her politics than what's discussed in the article.  She knows a lot about foreign relations and national security.  What else?  Anything to hide?  The what else part would make or break her.  Assuming everything else was halfway decent, she'd make an excellent choice.  I'd love to see her as VP candidate against Hillery as a Presidential candidate.
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