BENDINELLI: Rice is nice



Ryan Bendinelli

Mike Huckabee, a comedian and minister who dabbles in presidential campaigns, has said that no one wants to be vice president, yet no one turns the job down. John Adams, while serving as the first vice president, said, “My country has in its wisdom contrived for me the most insignificant office that ever the invention of man contrived or his imagination conceived.” Adams was a bit long-winded, but he understood that his main job was to wake up every morning and see if the president managed to do the same. Still, the choice of a running mate for a presidential candidate does reveal things about the person whose name is at the top. For starters, it lets the public know where the candidate thinks he or she is weak. It also can help to reflect certain priorities that the candidate hopes to accomplish over four years.

John McCain has all but clinched the Republican nomination. Since the fun of the primary selection process had to come to an end, it is time to talk about the vice presidential selection.

For starters, it seems like a good idea to look at some of McCain’s weaknesses and threats in the campaign. First and foremost, there is his age. John McCain will be 72 before the election in November. That would make him the oldest first-term president in American history. This in itself makes the choice of a VP that much more important.

McCain also has a well-known temper. He has dropped f-bombs in committee meetings and called colleagues the a-word on the Senate floor, another major liability for him.

In the Senate, McCain has drawn heavy criticism from those within his own party. His reputation as a “maverick” has managed to isolate a large group of conservatives who are hesitant to support his nomination. Losing the volunteers and the campaign contributions from this part of his party could make the campaign much harder for McCain.

McCain also faces an uphill battle because many Americans are simply sick of President Bush, except some loyal Republicans. McCain wants to come across as an agent of change while still pacifying those who support the current president.

With all of this in mind, there is one choice for a vice president that is by far the best. That choice is Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice. At first glance, it seems like an awful idea to pick someone who has never held elected office and is part of an administration that is extremely unpopular, but Rice is an incredible choice who complements McCain well.

First and foremost, Rice is an excellent pick because she has an incredibly bright mind. She speaks so well on such a variety of issues that many people will wonder why she was not the presidential candidate.

Rice provides the balance to McCain’s quick temper. Watching her testify before swarms of uninformed partisan hacks on Capitol Hill will show anyone how well she keeps her cool under pressure.

Her status as a veteran of the Bush administration comes with many more positives than negatives. It says to the more conservative wing of the party that McCain will not completely reject the past eight years. This will be crucial in getting financial support and volunteers. Additionally, it brings someone onto the ticket who has real experience in the executive branch.

The main liability that Bush carries is that people who see him speak are convinced that he is not intelligent. Rice cannot evoke those same feelings because her intelligence is more than apparent whenever she speaks. Furthermore, in her role as secretary of state she has consistently pushed for diplomacy across the globe.

The chance that the president will die in office is not something Americans should want to consider. However, it is much more comforting to know that the person who is next in line to become president is qualified and able. Rice is both.


Ryan Bendinelli is a senior political science major from Millington, N.J. He can be reached at [email protected].