"It profits me but little that a vigilant authority always protects the tranquillity of my pleasures and constantly averts all dangers from my path, without my care or concern, if this same authority is the absolute master of my liberty and my life."

--Alexis de Tocqueville, Democracy in America

Friday, July 13, 2012

Condi for VP?

The idea of Condoleeza Rice as Romney's pick for Vice-President is being floated as a trial balloon.  

The sad truth is that this makes some sense in a world where we are all programmed to consider diversity as a main criterion for position.   I do not mean to say that Condi Rice is unqualified.   I just mean to say that the reason she would be considered a "game-changing" selection is that she is (a) black and (b) a woman.   Selecting her might innoculate Romney against what would be the inevitable charges of being out of touch as a rich white guy (weirdly, if you're a successful white businessman in a country that has almost always been led by successful white businessmen you're now "out of touch"; you would think it would be the opposite).   It might also be a preemptive move, with the concern that Obama is going to dump Biden and replace him with Hillary Clinton to have the first "no white men need apply" ticket.

On the other hand, here's Peggy Noonan relating a recent story:

When conversation turned to the vice presidential nominee, I said we all know the names of those being considered, spoke of a few, and then said Condoleezza Rice might be a brilliant choice.

Here spontaneous applause burst forth.

Consider: A public figure of obvious and nameable accomplishment whose attainments can't be taken away from her. Washington experience—she wouldn't be learning on the job. Never run for office but no political novice. An academic, but not ethereal or abstract. A woman in a year when Republicans aren't supposed to choose a woman because of what is now called the 2008 experience—so the choice would have a certain boldness. A black woman in a campaign that always threatens to take on a painful racial overlay. A foreign-policy professional acquainted with everyone who's reigned or been rising the past 20 years.

I should add here the look on the faces of the people who were applauding. They looked surprised by their own passion. Actually they looked relieved, like a campaign was going on and big things might happen and maybe it could get kind of . . . exciting.

On the other other hand, here's  Ramesh Ponnoru at NRO arguing against Rice as a pick:

Her selection would seriously offend many social conservatives — possibly enough to depress their turnout. In general, I think claims that conservatives will stay home in this election are overblown: Opposition to President Obama is running pretty hot. A vice-presidential nominee who is “mildly” in favor of letting a million unborn children be killed every year, though, would be one of the few things that would make this scenario plausible. Keep in mind, she would be the first pro-choicer on a Republican ticket since Roe v. Wade — unless she flipped and made herself look like a political hack just as the country was being introduced to her as a candidate.... Romney would be nuts to pick Rice.

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