Jacob Heilbrunn on Susan Rice

Scathing. And entirely accurate:

Even a cursory look at Rice’s résumé should induce some queasiness. Essentially, she was molded in Washington, D.C. She punched all the right tickets—National Cathedral School, Stanford, Rhodes scholarship, Brookings Institution. She is a perfect creature of the Beltway. But the downside is that there is scant evidence that she ever flourished outside the cozy ecosystem of the foreign-policy establishment.

It has not always been thus. Henry Kissinger produced serious books about international affairs. Further back, Dean Acheson was a successful lawyer. James Baker was both a shrewd lawyer and political operative whose wheeler-dealer skills translated well into dealing with foreign allies and adversaries. Now it’s not necessary to be all of these things at once. No one would claim that Hillary Clinton is a Kissingerian-style intellectual. But Clinton’s stature and political prowess allowed her to crack heads during the recent Gaza crisis.

What would Rice have brought to the State Department? The most she seems to have accomplished outside the foreign-policy world is to serve a stint as a management consultant at McKinsey & Co. Otherwise, she has produced no memorable books or articles or even op-ed essays. The most interesting thing about Rice has been the kerfuffle over her move to become secretary of state.

Heilbrunn goes on to note Rice’s habit of appeasing dictators. Given her record of mediocrity and bad judgments, it is surprising that there are so many who feign outrage regarding her failure to become Secretary of State. To be perfectly clear about matters, it is not a scandal that Susan Rice will not succeed Hillary Clinton. It would only be a scandal if she did.

  1. Group Captain Mandrake

    For more on Susan Rice, listen to the latest Need to Know podcast with Bret Stephens.  He has a lot to say about her, and it ain’t pretty.

  2. Group Captain Mandrake
    John Grant: The mediocrity of our elites never ceases to amaze me. What has Condoleeza Rice accomplished in comparison to Susan Rice? Colin Powell and HRC are also people of no real ability in their chosen professions. · 58 minutes ago

    You make a serious point.  How many prior Secretaries of State or their equivalents in other countries have shown real ability?  If I had to list a few, the names that immediately spring to my mind are people like Lester Pearson and Abba Eban.  They are not recent. 

  3. Michael Lukehart

    She seems a perfect compliment to our ever-so-accomplished president. 

  4. Schrodinger

    So, is John Kerry a more qualified candidate? I am glad the Rice is out, but we are replacing tweedledee with tweedledum(b).

    Of course, BO likes to select people who are as incompetent as himself.

  5. Michael Lukehart
    Schrodinger’s Cat: So, is John Kerry a more qualified candidate? I am glad the Rice is out, but we are replacing tweedledee with tweedledum(b).

    Of course, BO likes to select people who are as incompetent as himself. · 0 minutes ago

    Comparing bad to worse doesn’t make it good.

  6. Chris O.

    Huh? Did I miss something or was Colin Powell not National Security Advisor to President Reagan and Chairman of the Joint Chiefs under Bush, Senior? Hard to fault the guy for taking his military career to the highest level possible.

    Meanwhile Condoleeza Rice has at least achieved respect outside of D. C. working notably as Provost at Stanford and bringing some fiscal sanity to the university. She initially came to the attention of others because of demonstrated expertise, not because she knew the right people.

    The real fools you could look at are guys like Cyrus Vance, one of the chief reasons (along with David Owen) why Bosnia was such a disaster for so many years.

    Honestly, I wouldn’t begrudge a president anyone he or she wanted to appoint. Where is it written that you must have such and such experience to do what–master the art of doing nothing while saying all the right things??! There are plenty of people that can do that work, though not all can attract the attention of Boris Yeltsin with his or her legs. ;)

  7. Robert Dammers

    Pejman,

    I am intrigued as to how Susan Rice became so very rich having spent only a short time in management consultancy, and a long time in public service.  Obviously she may have inherited or married money, and I don’t begrudge her that, if that is the case.  But there is an unfortunate tendency for public servants in the US to become very well-to-do whilst in government employ, without receiving anything like the required sum in salary.  Is Ms Rice a preturnaturally gifted investor like Mrs Clinton, perhaps?  Or am I unfairly suspicious?

  8. Pejman Yousefzadeh
    C

    Henry Kissinger, George Shultz and James Baker certainly made an impact.

    Group Captain Mandrake

    John Grant: The mediocrity of our elites never ceases to amaze me. What has Condoleeza Rice accomplished in comparison to Susan Rice? Colin Powell and HRC are also people of no real ability in their chosen professions. · 58 minutes ago

    You make a serious point.  How many prior Secretaries of State or their equivalents in other countries have shown real ability?  If I had to list a few, the names that immediately spring to my mind are people like Lester Pearson and Abba Eban.  They are not recent.  · 8 hours ago

  9. Pejman Yousefzadeh
    C

    No. He is not.

    Schrodinger’s Cat: So, is John Kerry a more qualified candidate? I am glad the Rice is out, but we are replacing tweedledee with tweedledum(b).

    Of course, BO likes to select people who are as incompetent as himself. · 8 hours ago

  10. Group Captain Mandrake
    Robert Dammers: Pejman,

     But there is an unfortunate tendency for public servants in the US to become very well-to-do whilst in government employ, without receiving anything like the required sum in salary.  

    This may be why John Derbyshire routinely exhorts his listeners (with echo effects) to GET A GOVERNMENT JOB.

  11. John Grant
    C

    I agree with everything you say here, but then we have to ask “compared to whom”?

    The mediocrity of our elites never ceases to amaze me. What has Condoleeza Rice accomplished in comparison to Susan Rice? Colin Powell and HRC are also people of no real ability in their chosen professions.

  12. jonsouth

    So… is there anyone in a senior administrative position in the developed world today who has never worked at McKinsey or Goldman Sachs? (Obama excluded.)

  13. Pejman Yousefzadeh
    C

    Biden.

    jonsouth: So… is there anyone in a senior administrative position in the developed world today who has never worked at McKinsey or Goldman Sachs? (Obama excluded.) · 6 hours ago

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