February 5, 2005

My other '08 Presidential pick.

Yesterday, I wrote about my preferred '08 Democratic candidate for President, Russ Feingold. (And check out my update there. I did not mean to make my recommendation seem lukewarm!) Today, let me say that for a Republican candidate, I want Condoleezza Rice. Have you noticed the change in her demeanor in the pictures from her current European trip? I have always liked her, but I think she is taking on a new energy and dynamism as Secretary of State. Look at this
picture of her with Gerhard Schröder (from whom she extracted a pledge to do more to help Iraq).
Mr. Schröder, one of Europe's most implacable opponents of the Iraq invasion two years ago, appeared with Ms. Rice at a convivial news conference after an hourlong meeting here on Friday. He said he, like Mr. Bush, was ready to move beyond the debates of the past and work together on several matters, particularly the Israeli-Palestinian peace effort.

Do you have a problem with Rice saying that Iran's human rights record is "something to be loathed"? Here's Schröder on the subject:
In his comments on Friday, ... Mr. Schröder dismissed the idea that talk of bringing about democracy in Iran was unhealthy or damaging to negotiations with Iran on nuclear matters. "Not at all," he said with a laugh, when the question was raised at his news conference. "No, no, absolutely not."

The chancellor then said he had "listened to the president's address very eagerly" and "taken from it that his heart is very keenly with the democrats, irrespective of what country we're talking about."

"I couldn't agree more, actually," he said.

But he added carefully that there should be a discussion about what "tools" would be used to achieve reform in Iran.

A senior State Department official traveling with Ms. Rice, amplifying her comments further, said Mr. Bush and Ms. Rice had lately "made it more explicit that we support the aspirations of the Iranian people to control their government."

Another administration official suggested that Ms. Rice was trying to reassure Europe, warn Iran, establish her identity as different from her predecessor, Colin L. Powell, and not least, send a positive signal to the administration's conservative wing, whose members advocate at least raising the possibility of "regime change" over Iran.

"Sometimes a mixed message is the message you are trying to send," he said, noting that European anxieties needed to be assuaged at the same time that the Iranians needed to be told of American seriousness toward Iranian conduct.

Don't you have the feeling that Rice can do everything? Not to hero-worship or anything, but I would love to see Feingold and Rice as the candidates in '08: two truly strong, worthy candidates.

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