Apparently, John McCain is seriously considering Condy Rice to be his Vice President, and she wants the job. I can’t say I’m surprised, but I do think she will do little to help him with moderates, and such a choice will further alienate real conservatives. This issue is unusually important because of McCain’s age and health; his vice-president stands a reasonably good chance of assuming the office.
First, I think he is likely to choose her because he’s expressed unease about attacking Obama. He can’t muster the same passion against him that he could against an Edwards or Clinton. (Could you imagine McCain firing a staffer for an anti-Hillary youtube video?) For McCain, Obama’s race is like a shield, and McCain acts like any other guilty white liberal on race, as evidenced most dramatically by his embrace of America-destroying immigration policies. Condy gives him a get out of jail free card and also allows him to further his own vanity, proving to himself and everyone how progressive he is on racial matters.
Second, there is no daylight between McCain and Condy on the war. It’s true the war is unpopular, and McCain’s reprise of Bush’s ’04 electoral strategy appears less likely to be effective this time around, but it’s clearly something the two of them are very sincere about. Far from balancing the ticket, McCain seems disposed to pick a lackey type who will not challenge his oversized ego and unorthodox ideas.
Finally, Condy is a messianic liberal who, like Bush, is able to paint the imperial policing job in Iraq in the grandest of terms: the installment of sacred democracy and the expiation of our national “birth defect” of slavery. McCain likes this sort of talk; it elevates his merely instinctual “politics of duty” to grander historical purposes. Rice frequently ties this back to her own life, equating slavery and Jim Crow with any recognition of group differences, including the conservative criticism that Iraqis cannot profitably handle democracy and self-government.
Rice has no apparent leadership qualities, is a weak public speaker, is totally out to lunch on the Palestinians (often comparing their treatment to black civil rights activists) and has accomplished literally nothing at all as Secretary of State. She is a race-obsessed liberal and incompetent, but McCain may still pick her. Her race, her minimal qualifications, and her hawkish views on Iraq are enough for him.
Consider her record. She failed after 9/11 to be a voice of reason by not defending racial profiling of Middle Easterners and distinguishing this from the Jim Crow policies of America’s past. She failed as National Security Advisor to pull Bush off the rails by saying, “If we’re to pursue this ambitious course, we need many more troops regardless of what Rumsfeld is saying.” In works like Fiasco and Cobra II, she appears to have done very little in her role at the NSA, being bulldozed and parried by aggressive folks like Rumsfeld, Wolfowitz, Cheney, Perle, and Feith. Since becoming Secretary of State, she has been tone deaf in our dealings with Serbia, Russia, Israel, China, and many other parties, the worst example of the “ugly American” we’ve ever seen in this role.
Worst of all, when she is not insulting foreigners, she insults America and its past with half-educated bromides, usually dealing with slavery and discrimination. Her habitual appeal to these examples show that she is far too traumatized and alienated by her youth in Alabama to be entrusted with stewardship over the country as a whole. The United States is still a white majority country, where most of its people see much to admire in our history. Most of us, particularly on the Republican side, view the Founding as a glorious chapter in our history, the exact opposite of a “birth defect.”