Daniel W. Drezner

If you skip that first paragraph, Condoleezza Rice gave a great speech

If you skip that first paragraph, Condoleezza Rice gave a great speech

Based on my Twitter feed — and the act that it’s true — former Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice gave far and away the best speech of the 2012 Republican National Convention to date. As someone who had the privilege of taking courses from Dr. Rice, this makes me personally very happy. As someone who likes to see the United States vigorously participate in an open global economy, I thought her emphasis on trade and immigration were spot-on. And as someone who thinks the term "loyal opposition" has meaning, I thought Rice did an excellent job of not criticizing President Obama directly but nevertheless drawing interesting contrasts between Obama and Mitt Romney. 

So it was a great speech — so long as you skipped the opening paragraph: 

We gather here at a time of significance and challenge. This young century has been a difficult one. I will never forget the bright September day, standing at my desk in the White House, when my young assistant said that a plane had hit the World Trade Center – and then a second one – and a third, the Pentagon. And then the news of a fourth, driven into the ground by brave citizens that died so that many others would live. From that day on our sense of vulnerability and our understanding of security would be altered forever. Then in 2008 the global financial and economic crisis stunned us and still reverberates as unemployment, economic uncertainty and failed policies cast a pall over the American recovery so desperately needed at home and abroad

The problem with this paragraph is that, vague language aside, it reminds the listener that two of the three greatest negative foreign policy shocks of the last decade happened while Rice and the GOP ran the executive branch. Oh, and the third is Iraq, which also happened on their watch. 

Whatever foibles and errors the Obama administration has committed on foreign policy — and they’ve had a healthy share — nothing they have done has been remotely close on the clusterf**k scale to the events Rice mentions in her first paragraph. 

Once you skip that, though, it really is a great speech.