What makes a good Vice President? I would suggest the following traits are paramount in an effective Vice President.
- Qualified and capable of taking the reigns of government.
- Able to execute policy of the POTUS.
- Grant competent advice and counsel.
- Must be politically satisfied with being Vice President of the United States.
Mitt Romney will pick who he will pick for Vice President but I can think of few people that fit the above criteria better than former Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice.
1) Qualified and capable of taking the reigns of government. This is the number one qualification of a good vice president and something John McCain didn't give much consideration in 2008 (apologies to the Palin supporters). We have had eight of forty-four presidents die in office making their vice presidents the Commander in Chief. As medicine has improved the likelihood of the death of a sitting president has been decreased but it is no less important to have a qualified VP that is capable of taking control of government in the event of a tragedy or accident. Few Americans believe that current President Obama is up to the task of his office let alone his Vice President. Joe Biden has been a colorful addition to the White House with his uniquely off-the-cuff and oft times inappropriate remarks but all agree he is no statesman and would make an unlikely POTUS. Condoleezza Rice on the other hand has had all the experience of government but is no cheap politician. Americans could sleep at night knowing that Rice was in the drivers seat protecting the red button. She has proven to be a thoughtful leader with tempered emotions. Unlike our current Vice President, Condoleezza Rice would mean what she said and only say what she means. In a word Rice is: Professional.
2) Able to execute policy of the POTUS. Vice Presidents have in the past had the job of executing the Presidents agenda. Some VP's are more powerful and influential than others but almost all of them are given the task to bring consensus to the president's vision. In the case of a Mitt Romney presidency a VP would have to be a budget hawk with the ability to understand and project balance budgets, debt/deficit reduction, and the downsizing and redistribution of the Federal Government. Few people know the intricacies of government better than Rice and even fewer have run entire government departments. Romney is running more or less on a economic ticket and Condoleezza Rice would complement his fiscally minded administration. As Stanford's Provost, Rice was responsible for the multi-billion dollar university budget. When Rice took over Stanford was running a deficit of $20 million dollars and she promised that the budget deficit would be balanced within two years. Stanford's deputy director of the Institute for International Studies said, "there was a sort of conventional wisdom that said it couldn't be done... that [the deficit] was structural, that we just had to live with it." Two years later Rice announced that the deficit had been eliminated and the university was holding a record surplus of over $14.5 million. Coupled with Rice's strong national security and international credentials is her real life experience in balancing a large institutions budget. Again, there are very few people in government with that sort of real life experience. Let's just say that President Obama never had to balance anything and he still hasn't as POTUS.
3) Grant competent advice and counsel. There are varying degrees of vice presidential influence. Some say that VP Cheney had the presidents ear like few vice presidents have ever had. Our current VP made a deal with the President that he would accept the VP spot in exchange for at least a weekly hour meeting. We don't know how that has turned out for VP Biden but we do know that he advised the President not to send a SEAL team to Pakistan to get Osama bin Laden. That was a bit of bad advice and if Biden is advising the President on the economy too then heaven help us. One thing is certain. Condoleezza Rice is an expert in national security and international relations. Having been National Security Advisor and Secretary of State, Rice has all the experience of real world politics cupeled with her time as an academic. A year before the September 11th attacks Rice warned, "You really have to get the intelligence agencies better organized to deal with the terrorist threat to the United States itself. One of the problems that we have is a kind of split responsibility, of course, between the CIA and foreign intelligence and the FBI and domestic intelligence... there needs to be better cooperation because we don't want to wake up one day and find out that Osama bin Laden has been successful on our own territory." Of course her fears became the national tragedy of 9-11. With counsel like Rice, Mitt Romney would be well advised in all things foreign and domestic.
4) Must be politically satisfied with being Vice President of the United States. This is a very important trait in a VP. I would argue that Dick Cheney, for better or worse, was one of the most powerful VPs we've had in living memory because he had no ambition to be POTUS. He was less worried about his career than he was about defending the President and championing his causes. While you can argue that VP Cheney was a poor adviser or had bad policy ideas no one can argue about his loyalty and dedication to President Bush. Condoleezza Rice would also be a very noticeable and influential VP as she has expressed zero interest in political office. She has even said on multiple occasions that she would not seek or accept the VP slot on a Romney ticket. But I also believe that she is a woman who has never turned her back on duty and if the call were made I imagine she would feel obligated to accept. But that is hopeful speculation on my part. Certainly a Vice President Rice would never look to save her own political neck and throw a President Romney under the proverbial bus.
There are many other reasons why Condoleezza Rice would make an excellent Vice President. She is an accomplished person with many talents, experiences, and background. But when it comes to the top four qualifications for a good VP she passes with flying colors and practically defines the role. Mitt Romney likes to surround himself with stable competent people with real life experience. He tolerates no amateurs and Condoleezza Rice is the antithesis of that. After these last three years of amateurs on parade it would be nice to have a professional executive branch once again and Romney Rice would be a perfect team to go up against the daunting task of a terrible economy, a bloated government, and a dangerous world.
In addition to being extremely qualified, Rice has been under the microscope for years. No surprises in her candidacy. And it doesn't hurt that the mainstream media already takes a dislike to her. That's a bandage of honor and endorsement in my book. Tough decisions will always create controversy. We don't need popular people. We need competent people.