Yesterday, as the Romney campaign was drowning in revelations and nagging questions about his time (and maybe-time) at Bain Capital, mysterious ?sources? apparently decided it was an excellent time to call Matt Drudge and dangle a shiny pseudo-scoop in front of him. Former Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice, he breathlessly reported at 7:30 p.m., is ?now near the top of the list? to be Mitt?s vice-presidential choice. Why? Well, apparently because she gave a real nice speech at the Romney retreat in Utah recently. (BuzzFeed has the audio.) And what do you know? The interwebs and cables were instantly ablaze with just-add-water analysis of Rice?s prospects, pros and cons. Bill Kristol hopped on the bandwagon. Sarah Palin declared it a ?wonderful? idea and, in a related development, Juan Williams opined that it would be a ?game changer.?
If the phrase ?game changer? doesn?t send instant chills up the spines of Republicans, it?s hard to imagine what would. Rice, of course, is no Palin; she?s surely not expecting Vladimir Putin to start bombing Alaska any second now. But while much of the insta-punditry today focused on the fact that Rice is somewhere to the left of Rick Santorum on abortion rights?inspiring yammers of protest from pro-life purists?the real reason this was surely nothing more than a classic political distraction is rooted in Rice?s own foreign-policy experience. As the Wall Street Journal?s Bret Stephans wrote in May, when her name first began to surface, ?There's only one problem. Ms. Rice was a bad national security adviser and a bad secretary of state.? And to make matters far, far worse, she was George W. Bush?s bad foreign-policy adviser. Americans may have the world?s shortest historical memories, but it wouldn?t take much to remind them of the whoppers she told about Iraq?s nuclear threat, or the fact that she was national-security adviser for the administration that ignored al-Qaeda threats leading up to 9/11, or ? the list goes on, catastrophically. There?s a reason why Mitt Romney would rather talk about magic underwear than the Bush years?and picking Rice would connect him to much of the worst of that dreadful epoch.
Rice is probably as likely to win the nomination as Palin herself. The only ?news? in Drudge?s scoop, and the ensuing media frenzy, is that the Romney people might have learned a little bit about manipulating the media. When Romney goes on five networks tonight?ABC, CBS, NBC, Fox, and CNN?to try and clear the air about Bain, the Caymans, and those missing tax returns?at least there?ll be something else for him to be asked about.
?The rigidity of those pledges is something I don?t like. The circumstances change and you can?t be wedded to some formula by Grover Norquist. It?s?who the hell is Grover Norquist, anyway??
?President George H.W. Bush, interviewed by Parade, commenting on Norquist's ?no new taxes? pledge
The 2012 campaign doesn?t appear to be galvanizing America?s youth. Only 58 percent of registered voters under 30 say they?ll ?definitely vote? in November, according to Gallup. How low is that number? In 2008, it was 78 percent?and in 2004, 81 percent.