Saturday, February 12, 2005

The Pros and Cons of Rice '08

Word on the political street is that Republicans are having a very difficult time choosing a suitable presidential candidate for the 2008 election. Some people, including myself, have been whispering that the GOP may not have a candidate that is strong enough. While the right has been gearing up to push John McCain, prod Rudy Giuliani, or amend the Constitution so Arnold Schwarzenegger can run (a move that I personally believe would betray our founding fathers and take this whole Governator thing a little too far), the left has made an obvious move to run Hillary Clinton that is crazy enough to work. So then comes the obvious question: why not draft Condoleeza Rice? She's already said she has no intentions to do so, but Dwight D. Eisenhower said the same thing, yet it didn't keep Republicans from convincing him to run in the 1950's. Even if they could convince Rice, could she be elected, and would she be effective?

To put it lightly, Rice has some distinct advantages. As an African-American woman, she would have a chance to cut deeply into the votes of blacks and women, two of the strongest bases of the Democratic Party. If Clinton loses her Senate seat in 2006, she will become a lame duck and stand little to no chance of being named a candidate; therefore, the Democrats would have a very difficult time pulling female voters away from Rice. Politically, she would be the most conservative choice for the presidency, which would definitely subscribe to the Karl Rove formula of motivating the base. She also has very deep religious convictions, which would drive the Christian right to the polls en masse. If she were to be elected, she would already have plenty of experience as a member of the Bush cabinet and would probably have solid diplomatic skill.

On the other hand, nominating Condoleeza Rice could be a double-edged sword. The same features that would convince the Democratic base to vote Republican may cause animosity among some extremist right-wingers. (Yes, Thomas Woods, I'm talking to you.) Sadly, there is a small group of voters, particularly in the deep South, that has yet to cast out racism from their ranks. Hopefully, the ranks of the fascists are dwindling, but while I don't think that their numbers are large enough to matter on Election Day, outraging them could lead to serious problems that may need dealing with during a Rice presidency. Also, a black, conservative woman is still a conservative. Hillary Clinton would have little-to-no problem getting more of the female vote than Rice. Even if Clinton isn't an option, the Democrats can still choose a competitive candidate. I honestly believe that, if the Democrats nominate Sen. Barack Obama, then the party will draw an overwhelming majority of black voters to the polls for him. Besides, anyone who has problems with openly religious presidents won't like much of anything about Rice.

It is also important to remember that the greatest presidents were the ones who could be moderate on the job. Rice is so conservative that she may not be capable of doing this; several key Democrats have already sided against her, and unless she becomes a master of diplomacy as Secretary of State, she may not be able to get anything done while in office. However, she is obviously strong-willed, so as long as she can prevent liberals from spinning her determination as arrogance or stubborness, she stands to be a very successful president if elected. As we know from polls taken after the last election, more Americans consider themselves Republicans than Democrats. If the GOP can rally the base and drain votes from the Dems, Rice '08 is entirely probable. It puts the left in a curious position; a Clinton presidency is so repulsive to most conservatives that any attempt to put her in office could backfire, yet few others could contend with Rice. Mark my words: if the right makes a clear move to push for Condoleeza Rice, the left will counter with either Clinton or the inexperienced Obama. Either way, the 2008 election is shaping up to be a real trip. I don't even want to think about possible VP candidates yet...

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