Former Clinton adviser Dick Morris is on the talk shows promoting Condoleezza Rice as the 2008 Republican candidate for President. There are some serious Republicans backing Rice, and the idea has some obvious appeal, but Morris’s talk of “Condi Clubs” springing up all over the country sounds almost comical. On a radio show, Morris even declared that Rice could be the Republican Party’s Eisenhower.
But not only has Rice not indicated she wants the job, her positions on domestic and social issues are almost completely unknown. She could be a flaming liberal. Despite the lack of solid information about her views, Morris argued in a column that Rice was a “social conservative.”
Columnist Christopher G. Adamo has been skeptical of Morris’s campaign for a Condi vs. Hillary contest, arguing, “One has to wonder if Morris, once a high-ranking operative for the Clintons before mysteriously becoming estranged from them, is not deliberately stumping for Hillary’s most vulnerable opponent.”
That may be going too far. Rice could possibly emerge as a formidable presidential candidate. But without going into the realm of conspiracy theories, it is also possible that Morris’s new book, “Condi vs. Hillary: The Next Great Presidential Race,” could end up benefiting Hillary.
On the surface, this seems absurd. Morris has adopted an anti-Hillary Clinton position and has been critical of the former First Lady’s grab for political power. But if Rupert Murdoch of News Corporation, the parent of Fox News, can cozy up to both Bill and Hillary―and there is abundant evidence of this developing relationship―then why is it crazy to think that the Morris book could have the effect of boosting a Hillary presidential run?
One thing is clear: his book elevates Secretary of State Rice and Senator Clinton to the same level, which clearly benefits Hillary. One of Mrs. Clinton’s many vulnerabilities is her lack of foreign policy experience. It benefits Mrs. Clinton to be compared to a Secretary of State with excellent foreign policy credentials. A former National Security Adviser to Bush, Rice has a very impressive background that makes Hillary look like a rank amateur in the area of global affairs. You can read the Rice bio at http://www.whitehouse.gov/nsc/ricebio.html.
But it would be a huge stretch for Rice to go from Secretary of State to president, especially when there are good conservative Republican Senators and Governors who could run and serve. At the same time, just like the new show about the woman president, “Commander in Chief,” the Morris book may get people thinking that Hillary is a serious candidate and could be a legitimate president, despite whatever negative things he has to say about her.
Conservatives who now watch Morris on Fox News or read his articles for conservative publications should remember that he played a key role in the rise of the Clintons. A confidant of the Clintons for 20 years, he was an adviser to Bill Clinton when he ran for Arkansas governor in 1978 and when he was re-elected president in 1996. Somewhere along the way he supposedly left the Clinton camp and turned on them. Clearly, however, that was not because of their sleazy personal conduct. Morris was embroiled in a personal sex scandal of his own.
It is a subject that Morris still avoids, especially when the target is Hillary. When Ed Klein’s powerful book, “The Truth About Hillary,” came out, Morris was in the forefront of those blasting it. Morris said the Klein book featured charges that “do not belong in our public dialogue” and “hit below the belt?” He said the Klein charges “tend to discredit the more serious and sober concerns so many of us have about the danger she would present in high office.” In fact, Klein makes the case that Mrs. Clinton lacks the character and personal integrity to be president. Bill O’Reilly of Fox News will interview Morris about his Hillary book but will not interview Klein. The Morris book is published by an arm of Murdoch’s News Corporation.
Perhaps by writing a book about a mythical Condi vs. Hillary race, Morris is just trying to sell books rather than the idea that such a match-up could really occur. But talk-show hosts seem to be taking him and his “Condi clubs” seriously.
Strangely, Morris says that possible candidates like Senator John McCain or former New York City Mayor Rudolph Giuliani are too liberal to get the GOP presidential nomination but that Rice will somehow catch fire with the conservative “grass roots” of the Republican Party and get it. It just doesn’t make much sense. But Morris gets away with making such statements because of his reputation as an experienced and successful political strategist and operative.
At this point it can be safely said that the Morris book elevates Hillary’s status as a viable candidate for the presidency who will be protected (by Morris) from charges of serious personality flaws. But it’s in this area of personal integrity and character development that Rice could really outshine Hillary.