Friday, December 10, 2004

I Have A Dream
That Condoleeza Rice
Will Be Our President

The Anchoress analyzes Peggy Noonan's analysis of the "deep bench" the GOP has for 2008, and comes up with lineup card of her own:

What was most interesting was Noonan's assertion that the GOP has - for 2008 - a "deep bench".

They've got a deep bench and a big fight coming. Alphabetically the list so far can be considered to include George Allen, Bill Frist, Rudy Giuliani, Chuck Hagel, John McCain, Bill Owens, George Pataki, Mitt Romney, and beyond that any number of potential surprise guests from Tommy Thompson to Colin Powell to Mrs. Hutchison.

With all due respect to Ms. Noonan, um. No. That bench is neither deep nor sturdy. Allen? All the charisma of melted ice. Frist? A genuinely good man, indeed, but also lacking in charisma, and he has not yet demonstrated strong leadership abilities in the Senate. Hagel? Get outta here, he's a self-promoting wet handshake of a man. McCain? Too busy playing both sides of the aisle, too in love with magazine covers, too much cancer history. Owens and Pataki are interchangable snores. Mitt Romney is a Mormon and that will give him a hard time with both the Evangelicals in the GOP and the moderate Democrats any successful Republican will still need to court. Tommy Thompson just gave terrorists some hints as to how they might hurt the nation, "hey, fellas, have you thought about the FOOD SUPPLY?" So even if he were not already a little scary-looking, he's officially to scary-sounding. Colin Powell's wife has made it very clear that she doesn't want him running for president, and Kay Hutchinson is...mmneh.

It leaves only one name. No matter how you pad the list and crowd the bench to make it look like there is a real choice for the GOP, the truth is we have one genuine quarterback on which to call: Rudy Giuliani.

I could be wrong, but my inclination is that Condoleeza Rice is the powerhouse here, not Giuliani. Giuliani does have great decision-making credentials, and has proven that he is willing to make tough values-based stands, such as his refusal of a large donation from a Saudi Prince to NYC's 9/11 Fund. But, Rice appears to have the same mettle, and she has some strategic advantages over Giuliani.

Many on the GOP side have been brazenly confident that Hilary Clinton can not win the Presidency because opinion polls have shown that she is "unlikable." In my opinion, that shows a deep misunderstanding of human nature. Hilary Clinton is not "unlikable" in the way Bob Dole was, or Al Gore, or even John Kerry, where there's something stiff, and uncompfortable, about their personality. Instead, Hilary's "unlikability" is the very part she plays in the National Soap Opera of American politics.

Hilary Clinton is the Queen Bitch with whom we are fascinated. She is a reasonably attractive, cold-hearted, "knives-in-the-eyes," women who is willing to do anything to get ahead. Think the Joan Collins character on Dynasty. Or anyone of the women on Melrose Place. I fear, and am rather convinced that Hilary Clinton is our own American Imelda Marcos. She is the woman, with whom we are so fascinated, we would allow her to do anything to us. ANYTHING.

You know who needs to write about the Hilary phenomenon? Camille Paglia. Camille could explain this from the historic/literary perspective much better than I. But, just understand that there are certain characters who resonate as part of our civilizational drama because they are archetypes. The OJ Simpson trial was an example of this. OJ Simpson was functioning as the Othello archetype. George Bush resonates as a kind of Lone Ranger/Cowboy archetype. Or to go deep, George Bush is Henry/Hal from Shakespeare's Henry IV.

Similarly, Hilary Clinton is our Cleaopatra. She married into power, and seems willing to commit metaphorical murders to ascend from there.

Another thing the Hilary's naysayers do not take into account is that the American people truly love Bill Clinton, and we have a nostalgia for the time during which he was our President. Sure they ended badly, but nostalgia is a trick of the light when we are gazing backward in time. We remember the good things and forget the pain.

Now, let me be clear, I am not saying that I am fascinated with Hilary Clinton. I don't like her one bit. I was disgusted by her behavior during her Senate run in 2000. She shows a disgusting willingness to pander to people by playing on the most elemental raicial and lifestyle stereotypes. Her recent revelation that she is an "Evangelical" recalls, for me, the Jewish Minstrel Show she performed, in her debates with Rick Lazio back in 2000, when she related homey little stories about sharing a bagel with her good friend Mr. Goldstein.

But, for whatever reason, Hilary's base and disgusting appeals to stereotype work. And this reality, coupled with America's fascination with her, are the reason that Condi Rice is, to my mind, the only Hilary killer the GOP has on it's bench. The fact that Condoleeza Rice is a black woman renders useless the old Clinton strategy of implying that the GOP does not look out for the interests of women and minorities. Considering that that is the primary weapon in the Clinton arsenal, it will leave Hilary exposed where she is most vulnerable. She will have to run on issues and values. And, on issues and values, Rice can, and most certainly would, run Hilary ragged.

In addition, the appeal of a Condi Rice Presidency would have a powerful resonance in the American Drama. Her personal story is the story that America wants to tell itself, and, in the telling, to make manifest. Rice's parents determination to give her real access to the American Dream, in spite of the racist realities of their time, is the story of the ascent of Black people in America. Considering who Condi Rice is a person (her stands on issues, her steadfastness, her values), Americans would die to rally around her story, and to push it up to the very peak of the moutaintop.