- The Washington Times - Wednesday, January 24, 2007

If you were watching Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice on C-Span as she testified the other day before the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, you would ask yourself as I did: what is this handsome, articulate, charming statesman going to do for an encore, after her term of office is over in a year or so? Become a fundraising president of some university? Oh, no. President of some big corporation? Please. A Goldman Sachs banker? Please again.

I think Miss Rice would make a good president, far better, say, than Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton. In fact, in my fantasy dream: Condi, 53, and Hillary, 59, win the nominations of their respective parties and then face off in a series of presidential debates. But unlike Mrs. Clinton, who is hustling for delegates to the 2008 Democratic convention, Miss Rice (anybody mind if I refer to her as Condi?) hasn’t the time or money to compete with Sen. John McCain or Rudy Giuliani for the top slot.

That being the case, there is one spot on the 2008 Republican ticket made to order for Condi: the vice presidential candidacy.

With the urging of President Bush, Vice President Richard Cheney has turned what was once a sickly appendage to the presidency into a position of power, service and national influence. Wouldn’t it be great to have as America’s vice president someone who is not only one of our most experienced public servants, but is also a concert pianist, playing at one of those interminable diplomatic conclaves Beethoven’s Waldstein sonata or some Brahms waltzes?

I think it would be a coup of first magnitude if the front runners for the Republican presidential nomination were to announce in advance that come what may, Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice would be the other half of the ticket. True, voters ballot for the top of the ticket but with Condi Rice as a vice presidential candidate, I think voters would have an immense incentive to vote the Republican ticket.

In Israel there is an Israeli-Arab symphony orchestra which, I believe, gives regular concerts. Next time Condi heads for the Middle East seeking an elusive peace, another kind of program ought to be scheduled for Condi. In daytime hours she is America’s chief diplomat but in conference after-hours, she enters the world of the artist, the soloist, say, in the Rachmaninoff second piano concerto. Worth trying.

William Congreve, the Restoration playwright, long ago put it well: “Music hath charms to soothe a savage breast, To soften rocks, or bend a knotted oak.” Lots of savage breasts out there, like Hamas, which need softening up.

Arnold Beichman is a research fellow at the Hoover Institution, Stanford University, and a columnist for The Washington Times.

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