Saturday, February 12, 2005

Madame Secretary

Rich Lowery of the National Review has a splendid article on Condi Rice. She has started her term as Secretary of State with a whirlwind tour that has brought new life to the post. When Bush won his first term and named Colin Powell as Secretary of State, I must admit I thought, how awesome is Colin going to be! Then as time went by...slowly, gradually...I realized that Colin was not going to be anything near what I imagined. In the final 2 years of his term, he always seemed despondent to me, beat down like someone had just taken his milk money for the gazillionth time.

Accoding to Lowery, I was not alone:
Rice gets things Powell never did. For instance, that leaking to Bob Woodward and other Washington Post reporters is not the secretary of State's chief responsibility. Powell was so obviously the primary source for so many journalistic accounts of intra-administration fights that he often deserved a co-byline. Or that being known as a dissenter from administration policy only undermines your standing and your credibility as a spokesman for the United States.

Powell was the least-traveled secretary of State in 30 years, for a couple of reasons. One was that he wanted to stay home to be better able to engage in the vicious intramural fighting necessary to undermine the president's policy. The other was that he considered travel an inconvenience. That is understandable, even if Powell didn't have to deal, like the rest of us, with security lines and metal-detector wandings. But shouldn't it have been a sign he was better suited to be secretary of the interior?

Rice, in contrast, supports the president's policy and is loyal to him, so she has no need to hang around in Washington to indulge in bureaucratic backstabbing. She is also young and vigorous, a workout obsessive who could beat most other foreign ministers in the world in a 5k race and is up to the rigors of foreign travel.
The difference is already present in neon colors. God love her, I know she'll do exceptionally well for our country in the next four years.