Home/Daniel Larison/Noonan’s “Brilliant Choice”: The Absurdity of Condi Rice as the VP Nominee

Noonan’s “Brilliant Choice”: The Absurdity of Condi Rice as the VP Nominee

Peggy Noonan talks to “businesspeople” who are very easily impressed:

But the news: 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.

This is insane. No one takes seriously the Drudge-promoted distraction that Condi Rice is a real contender for the VP nomination. That’s because selecting Rice makes no sense. That being the case, what does it say for Noonan’s judgment and the judgment of these “businesspeople” that they don’t immediately dismiss this suggestion as nonsense uttered by a bored pundit in the middle of July? A brilliant choice? Can there be an adjective less appropriate to describe the idea of putting one of the people most responsible for the failure of the Bush administration’s foreign policy next in line to the Presidency? Who would applaud such a suggestion?

The point here isn’t that Rice is in any danger of becoming Romney’s running mate. By all accounts, she doesn’t want the job, and Romney would be out of his mind to offer it to her. The social conservative revolt that it would provoke is enough by itself to render the idea one of the most implausible bits of speculation so far this year. What’s startling is that anyone not named Bill Kristol would think that this is a good idea.

Let’s briefly review Noonan’s argument for Rice to appreciate just how wrong it is. Rice is a figure of “obvious and nameable accomplishment”? Which accomplishment would that be? Completely failing to do a competent job as National Security Adviser? Presiding over the worst period of U.S.-Russian relations since the Cold War? Facilitating Hamas’ takeover of Gaza? Advising Bush as he embarked on one of the greatest debacles of post-WWII U.S. foreign policy? Helping to shape one of the most disastrous foreign policy records of modern times? Take your pick. No one can take any of that away from her. Her accomplishment is obvious. Noonan says that Rice wouldn’t be “learning on the job.” Certainly not. She didn’t seem to learn anything while she was in her previous administration positions, so why start now? Choosing her as the VP nominee would have a “certain boldness.” Then again, driving off of a cliff demonstrates a “certain boldness.”

about the author

Daniel Larison is a senior editor at TAC, where he also keeps a solo blog. He has been published in the New York Times Book Review, Dallas Morning News, World Politics Review, Politico Magazine, Orthodox Life, Front Porch Republic, The American Scene, and Culture11, and was a columnist for The Week. He holds a PhD in history from the University of Chicago, and resides in Lancaster, PA. Follow him on Twitter.

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