Home Fiction Humor Essays Books

To Condi, with sweetness

by Greg Swann

The Los Angeles Times has an article (registration required, alas) speculating on the prospects for a 2008 presidential match-up between Hillary Clinton and Condoleezza Rice.

It's not a brand-new idea. I first heard of it from Andrew Sullivan. And the Times article is following-up on, without mentioning, a recent public address by William Safire.

I am in love with this idea, and not just because I have publicly and repeatedly declared my enmity for all things Clinton. I would love to see Hillary Clinton get trounced at the polls by Condi Rice, but, truly, I would love to see Hillary get trounced at the polls by just about anyone.

And I'm not changing my spots to become a Republicrat this late in the game. Everything I've heard about Rice suggests that she is the least objectionable sort of mainstream politician--pro free-trade, pro second amendment, anti big government. And like that other bright light of black conservatism, Justice Clarence Thomas, she seems to be driven by firmly-held principles, not will-o'-the-wisp polling results. But it remains that she is a mainstream politician, a decidedly small-L libertarian.

Nevertheless I want her to run and I want her to win. I want what she stands for to win.

And by "stands for", I mean what she stands for as a symbol. This is completely unfair to her, I confess. It was unfair to Justice Thomas, too. And as much as I regret what was done to him for all the things he stands for, both in his principles and as a symbol, nevertheless I am glad that he was stout enough of heart and spirit to withstand his torment. He conferred upon America a gift so great we haven't yet measured it--nor earned it.

And a President Condoleezza promises America--and the world--a much greater gift. I hope the price to her is not as high as the one Justice Thomas paid, but I fear it might be. Very probably will be, if the contest is Rice versus Clinton.

These are some of the treasures a President Condoleezza Rice would bring forth:

First, and least significantly, she would confound the media and popular perception. A conservative black woman president? The American people are not racist or sexist, as a rule, but they are true suckers for any jaw-dropping novelty. And the mainstream media are vicious and patronizing when it comes to women, to black people, and especially to conservatives. Rice graduated high school at age 15, college at 19, got her doctorate, taught at Stanford, was provost at Stanford, and now serves as President Bush's national security advisor. Jaw-dropping for the American people, jaw-bashing for the smash-mouth media.

And a presidential campaign and victory for Condoleezza Rice is the perfect antidote to the hideous black sub-culture that we ceaselessly praise by faint damnation. Women are not 'bitches' or 'whores'. People who work hard and study hard are not 'acting white'. People who disagree with white liberals are not 'Uncle Toms' or 'house slaves'. And the greatest enemy of black America is not slavery or racism or poverty, but a sub-culture that spits incessantly on the glorious gift of the human mind--a gift that comes one to a customer, skin color no obstacle.

Of course, a Rice presidency would give a great boost to the cause of black conservatism, a cause I hold dear to my heart. Clarence Thomas is my favorite Supreme Court Justice, Walter Williams my favorite newspaper columnist, and Thomas Sowell my favorite living economist. All of them, and Condoleezza with them, have suffered twice for their beliefs. First by being ridiculed and derided--even persecuted--for daring to oppose the dogma of the white liberal owners of the plantation of black America. And second by being denied at least part of the reward they are owed for being such masterfully brilliant people. That they were able to rise above these vile restraints is a testament to both their brilliance and to their strength of character.

A President Rice would be a strong affirmation of the values of the middle class: Study hard, work hard, show up on time, follow-through, keep a nice home, pay your bills, and raise gracious, thoughtful, hard-working children who understand and honor middle class values. The media, and Hollywood, and the left in general sneer at the middle class. But the ethic of the middle class, of the reviled Bourgeoisie, is the absolute best survival engine the human race has evolved.

And Condoleezza the president would do two wonderful things for feminism: She would demonstrate that the battle is already won. And she would silence, at least for an instant, the perpetual victims who whine that the battle can never be won.

But the single most vital and valuable treasure that a Condoleezza Rice presidency could present to America, and to the world, is this: She could shout down Islam without saying a word.

A President Rice would doubtless enact many important policies. She would continue the execution of the war against the East she is helping to plan. She would direct the efforts to spread the seeds of the West where they have never yet taken root. I have no doubt that she would be a fine president, perhaps one of the best.

But as good as she might be, she will be still better for having been a symbol for everything that is right with the West, and everything that is irredeemably wrong with the East.

Hellenic culture is Oriental, originally. It is of the East, as is all of human civilization. But Hellenic culture, Western culture, is unique among human civilizations because it is self-correcting. In the beginning, we were as sexist as the East. As xenophobic as the East. As rigid and dogmatic and implacable as the East. But we thought better and we learned better and we did better. Our progress was slow and incremental, but still it was progress. Aristotle owned slaves, as did Julius Caesar and Thomas Jefferson. But we have learned better, and we have learned to do better. And we have done better every time we have discovered that we had done badly.

The West can change--the West thrives by changing--and the East never can. A President Condoleezza Rice, a conservative black woman president of the United States of America, would make that argument more eloquently than any book ever could.

Condoleezza Rice is named for an operatic stage direction--con dulcezza, sing with sweetness. As an intellectual and an ideologue, she stands for important principles, proud and profound, firm and fixed. But as a symbol, she represents the great tree of Liberty, fully grown from the seed sown so long ago in Athens. Where we had been ignorant--about gender, about race, about creed--we have grown wise. But the West has grown wise because the West can grow wise--can question its premises, can revise its errors, can learn to live better and do better and be better.

A Condoleezza Rice presidency would sing the song of the West, the promise and the potential and the realization. A Condoleezza Rice presidency would sing the unprecedented, unduplicated, unutterable glory of the West--the one place on Earth where each of us can find our own song. And then sing it, loud and proud. With sweetness.

Home Fiction Humor Essays Books