Opinion: Condi Rice compliments Barack Obama on race speech


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Condoleezza Rice says she isn’t running for any political office. Not yet, skeptical observers might add.

But the candid secretary of State and former national security advisor and onetime top Stanford University administrator says it was a good time for the nation to hear that speech on race that Democratic Sen. Barack Obama delivered the other day in Philadelphia.

Rice, who is the top-ranking African American in the Bush administration and viewed by many as a potential Republican candidate for vice president, tells the Washington Times that she watched Obama’s speech with interest.

‘I think it was important that he gave it for a whole host of reasons,’ Rice said in a transcript released by the State Department.


While saying she did not want to discuss the election campaign -- ‘I don’t do politics,’ she repeated, although she was intimately involved in policy development for Bush’s 1999-2000 presidential campaign -- she also reiterated her lack of interest in the vice presidential slot.

She said the United States had a hard time dealing with racial issues. She called it a ‘birth defect.’

‘There is a paradox for this country and a contradiction of this country and we still haven’t resolved it,’ she said in a detailed reply to questions about Obama and race issues as a whole. ‘But what I would like understood as a black American ...

is that black Americans loved and had faith in this country even when this country didn’t love and have faith in them, and that’s our legacy.’

Rice said her own father, grandmother and great-grandmother had endured ‘terrible humiliations’ growing up in the segregated South and yet they still loved America.

Rice, whose original career plans involved being a music major and concert pianist, said that she was ‘not interested’ in the vice presidential job and that when the Bush administration ends Jan. 20, she planned to return to her home in California, where she served as provost at Stanford.


‘It’s time for new blood,’ Rice said.

On the other hand, inquiring minds wonder, if she’s leaving Washington and retiring to California outside of politics and public policy in 10 months’ time, why is she taking time away from the State Department on the eve of another important Mideast trip and bothering to meet with the editorial board of the conservative Washington Times to talk about public policy?

And why, according to various rumors and reports on other blogs, was she recently seen attending the weekly session of conservative Washington power brokers presided over by anti-tax advocate Grover Norquist?

The off-the-record Wednesday sessions are a kind of informal credentialing process for those interested in Republican politics and introducing themselves and their thoughts to the capital’s conservative establishment, some of whom harbor doubts about the winner of the 2008 GOP presidential nomination.

If that newly minted Republican nominee, Sen. John McCain, follows political tradition, he’ll be choosing a vice presidential running mate -- and a conservative one -- here in the next several months to help him run against a Democratic ticket most likely headed by either an African American or a woman. Conceivably, the Democratic ticket could include both.

Oh, look! Condi Rice, as it happens, is already both. She’s also already a Republican, born in the South and more recently from California, the state with the largest number of electoral votes that hasn’t voted for a Republican presidential ticket in a generation.

We’re not saying. We’re just saying.

-- Andrew Malcolm and Mark Silva

Mark Silva writes for the Swamp of the Chicago Tribune’s Washington Bureau.