Condoleezza Rice is an American political scientist and diplomat. She is currently a professor of Political Economy in the Graduate School of Business at Stanford University. Condoleezza Rice is the first black woman to serve as the United States’ national security adviser, as well as the first black woman to serve as U.S. Secretary of State (2005-09). On August 29, 2012, Rice attended the Republican National Convention in Tampa, Florida, showing her support for the Republican Party’s 2012 election candidates, Mitt Romney and Paul Ryan. Rice delivered a riveting speech on the second day of the convention, spurring positive media attention: “I think my father thought I might be president of the United States. I think he would’ve been satisfied with secretary of state. I’m a foreign policy person and to have a chance to serve my country as the nation’s chief diplomat at a time of peril and consequence, that was enough,” she said, adding that her future plans focus on being an educator, not a politician. (Condoleezza Rice biography)
What is her background and how did she get to where she is today?
Condoleezza Rice served as the 66th United States Secretary of State in 2005 where she was the first black female to be appointed to this position. She was the second person to hold that office in the administration of President George W. Bush. She was the first to occupy the key post of national security advisor where she was well-known for her stern demeanor as national security adviser – earning her the nickname “warrior princess” – but as secretary of state she has assumed a more genial air. (Profile: Condoleezza Rice) She is personally close to the Bush family and has been one of his key supporters during the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq, and in the President Bush’s continuing “war on terror”.
What is her experience? Education?
She was born November 14, 1954 in Birmingham, Alabama under the shadow of segregation. She is the only child of Angelena Rice and the Reverend John Wesley Rice (Jr). Her father was an African-American minister at Westminster Presbyterian Church and her mother was a music teacher who taught her to play the piano. The name “Condoleezza” is derived from the Italian music-related expression, “Con dolcezza”, meaning “with sweetness”. She is single and has no children. She attended the University of Denver, University of Notre Dame, Miles College, Josef Korbel School of International Studies where the class was taught by Dr. Josef Korbel, a Czech immigrant who dedicated his life to studying the Soviet Union and eastern European politics. He also is the father of former Secretary of State Madeleine Albright. His enthusiasm for the subject rubbed off on Rice immediately. She changed her major to political science, and immersed herself in the language, history and culture of the now-defunct Soviet empire. “He instilled in her a love for international relations and a particular interest in then-Soviet affairs.” Upon graduating — Phi Beta Kappa — Rice headed to Notre Dame to get her master’s degree. But she stayed in touch with Korbel, who encouraged her to return to Denver to earn a doctorate. After receiving her doctorate, Rice was hired in 1981 by Stanford University as an assistant professor. Because she skipped a few school grades, she received her doctorate while she was in her mid-20s and was very close in age to the undergraduates she was teaching. (Zahn) Rice became a popular professor and was awarded Stanford’s highest teaching honor. But it wasn’t just students who were impressed with the young academic: At a university dinner, she met Brent Scowcroft, who served as national security adviser during the Ford administration. (Zahn)
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She went on to teach at Stanford University as a professor of political economy where she has been teaching for the past 30 years. With a deep commitment to promoting democracy and human rights throughout the world, she understood well and supported the struggle of Soviet Jewry. (Abraham H. Foxman) Ms. Rice’ parents taught her that education was the best armour against segregation and prejudice. Ms. Rice said that despite growing up with racial segregation, personal expectations were high. “My parents had me absolutely convinced that, well, you may not be able to have a hamburger at Woolworth’s but you can be president of the United States,” she said. (Profile: Condoleezza Rice)
What makes her a good leader?
She is the first African-American woman to become the U.S. secretary of state. She advises the leader of the world’s largest superpower and has an unparalleled level of trust with and access to the president. She has served two other U.S. presidents, George H.W. Bush and Ronald Reagan. For all of these reasons, and more, Rice, 50, is the most powerful woman in the world. (Serafin). Condoleezza Rice spoke with students at Georgia Southern University on September 8 about leadership and education. Speaking on what she called the “transforming power of education,” Rice urged students to find their passion, accept challenges as part of the learning process, and to realize “you can come from humble circumstances and do great things.” “It doesn’t matter where you come from, it matters where you’re going,” Rice said. (my georgia sourthern.edu). Ms. Rice always says “Respect another’s opinion in a debate; when things get tough, people become more of who they are: get away together because sometimes it’s the people around them egging them on. Good leaders get you thinking past the conversation and consider a new perspective”. (Summit) As Secretary of State, Rice has championed the expansion of democratic governments. Rice stated that 9/11 was rooted in “oppression and despair” and so, the US must advance democratic reform and support basic rights throughout the greater Middle East. Rice has also reformed and restructured the department, as well as US diplomacy as a whole.
What leadership style does she have?
“Transformational Diplomacy” is the goal that Rice describes as “working with our many partners around the world and building and sustaining democratic, well-governed states that will respond to the needs of their people and conduct themselves responsibly in the international system. She focused on transformational democracy by relocating American diplomats to the places in the world where they are needed most, such as China, India, Brazil, Egypt, Nigeria, Indonesia, South Africa, and Lebanon. She required diplomats to serve some time in hardship locations such as Iraq, Afghanistan, Sudan, and Angola; gain expertise in at least two regions; and become fluent in two foreign languages, such as Chinese, Arabic, or Urdu. She focused on regional solutions to problems like terrorism, drug trafficking, and diseases. She also worked with other countries on a bilateral basis to help them build a stronger infrastructure, and decreasing foreign nations’ dependence on American hand-outs and assistance, and she created a high-level position, Director of Foreign Assistance, to oversee US foreign aid, thus de-fragmenting US foreign assistance. Rice said that these moves were needed to help “maintain security, fight poverty, and make democratic reforms” in these countries and would help improve foreign nations’ legal, economic, healthcare, and educational systems. (Condoleezza Rice’s tenure as Secretary of State) Another aspect of Transformational Diplomacy is the emphasis on finding regional solutions. Rice also pressed for finding transnational solutions as well, stating that “in the 21st century, geographic regions are growing ever more integrated economically, politically and culturally. This creates new opportunities but it also presents new challenges, especially from transnational threats like terrorism and weapons proliferation and drug smuggling and trafficking in persons and disease. (Condoleezza Rice’s tenure as Secretary of State)
Why do you admire Condoleezza Rice?
I admire her because she is smart, savvy, and strong-willed. In the early days of the Bush administration, commentators wondered if she would be able to hold her own. They thought that she would be caught between (Secretary of State Colin) Powell and (Vice President Dick) Cheney and (Defense Secretary Donald) Rumsfeld, but in just one year on the job, Rice proved she does not play second to anyone. Rice is believed to be one of President Bush’s closest advisers, exerting influence and control over matters extending beyond national security. She often is the sole member of his Cabinet to join him during weekend trips to Camp David. Rice’s accomplishments also are amazing for a child of Birmingham, considering how close to home the violence in opposition of the civil rights movement had struck. Rice was eight when her schoolmate Denise McNair was killed in the bombing of the primarily African-American Sixteenth Street Baptist Church by white supremacists on September 15th, 1963. Rice states that growing up during Racial segregation taught her determination against adversity, and the need to be “twice as good” as non-minorities. Segregation also hardened her stance on the right to bear arms; Rice has said in interviews that if gun registration had been mandatory, her father’s weapons would have been confiscated, leaving them defenseless against Ku Klux Klan “Night Riders”. (Race 4 2012) She was able to overcome this and not let this model her life.
What are her Strengths?
Condoleezza Rice has risen to become one of the most powerful female (and African-American) political figures in US history. For example, in August 2004 and again in August 2005, Forbes magazine named Dr. Rice the world’s most powerful woman. Rice is also fourth in line to succeed the President. This is a higher ranking in the presidential line of succession than any other woman has ever achieved. (Madeleine Albright is a naturalized U.S. citizen and was therefore ineligible to become President during her tenure as Secretary of State). Her supporters have pushed Vice Presidential or Presidential candidacy as a possibility. Rice for her part has repeatedly said she has no desire or interest in becoming President. Dr. Rice continues to be the dream candidate of many Republicans (draft Condi groups formed almost the day that the 2004 election concluded) who envision her as transformative Presidential candidate that would be able to break the Democratic stranglehold on the African-American vote. No one in the 2008 race (from either party) will bring her foreign policy/national defense credentials to the table. Political experts have always speculated that these two issues are the main roadblocks in the path of a female Presidential candidate. They are Dr. Rice’s strengths. Secondly, Dr. Rice has a great life story to tell. It’s is easy to envision tears in the eyes of a television audience as Dr. Rice tells them of her visit as a small child to the White House, where her and her parents were barred from touring due to their race. When Dr. Rice recalls that she told her now deceased parents that someday she would be in that house, it will hit the audience like a sledgehammer. (Condoleezza Rice’s tenure as Secretary of State)
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Perhaps no other GOP candidate would benefit from the nomination of Hillary Clinton on the Democratic ticket as Dr. Rice. As Dick Morris described in his book “Condi vs. Hillary”, when contrasted with Dr. Rice, Hillary would be hurt tremendously by someone who was able to accomplish so much with so many barriers standing in her way- all the time standing on her own two feet. Dr. Rice has insisted that she will not run for President in 2008. However her future may lie as the uncontested front runner for the Vice-Presidential slot on the 2008 GOP ticket. It is hard to imagine that she will not be the first choice of whoever is able to secure the Republican nomination. (Race 4 2012) In a CNN poll of Republicans in April, she held an 80% approval rating – which seems to dismiss concerns that her soft tendencies on issues like abortion could upset grassroots conservatives. This, with the fact that the Obama care Supreme Court decision has fired up conservatives on an unprecedented level, should quell the fears of anyone worried that a Romney-Rice ticket wouldn’t mobilize the base. They are mobilized to the teeth, and a Rice pick won’t change that, yet it is her likeability with the public at large that should raise eyebrows. Among likely US voters, Rasmussen reports that Condi has a 66% favorability rating, with 32% viewing her Very Favorably. Only 24% have a somewhat or Very Unfavorable view of her. As an academic, Rice knows how to make her point clearly, in a concise and professional manner, and with passion. Although judgments on these matters are largely subjective, rumors that her recent speech in Park City led to two standing ovations amongst Republican elites, and immediately put her at the top of Romney’s list, give weight to this claim. (Shaw)
What are her Weaknesses?
In regards to Mitt Romney selecting Condoleezza Rice as his vice-presidential pick Condoleezza Rice has publicly said she is pro-choice on abortion. It’s hard to see the Republican Party nominating a VP who is pro-choice, just as it’s hard to see the Democratic Party nominating a candidate who is pro-life. The last time the GOP had a pro-choice candidate on its ticket was Gerry Ford in 1976. For the Democrats, its last pro-life nominee was 1972 VP nominee Sarge Shriver. ((D-Pa.)) Since then, both parties have been equally dogmatic on this issue – despite the fact there are sizeable numbers of pro-choice Republicans and pro-life Democrats. The latest Gallup poll shows about 33 percent of Republicans are pro-choice, and 37 percent of Democrats are pro-life. These numbers have held steady over time. Condoleezza Rice would do well with the well-educated, suburban voters who live in Northern Virginia, or the affluent suburbs of Philadelphia or Denver. It is these types of voters, more than any other, who will decide this election. One other potential problem with Condoleezza is her connection to “W”. If Romney wants to avoid comparisons to Bush, picking Condoleezza would not be helpful as she is so closely associated with the last administration. ((D-Pa.))