Call me surprised.
I happened to see former Secretary of State Condolezza Rice today. She spoke to a group of about 200 people, of which I was a part.
Here’s how she did.
She spoke for about 45 minutes – a tightly organized and logical talk – about world affairs. She didn’t use the teleprompter (I checked.). She spoke from a single 5″X7″ card. She never repeated herself. She used many specific anecdotes and statistics to support her points. Her talk had an easy-to-follow and organized thread throughout. She dealt with complex issues. She brought together numerous pieces into a unified set of themes and connected them directly to the audience.
Following her prepared remarks, she answered none-too-easy questions from a truly international crowd (people from Venezuela, Nigeria, Kazakhstan, Angola, South Africa and India, among others) with obvious facility and knowledge of the specific countries and regions. She tied together her answers and the general themes of her talk.
I was completely impressed. Completely. And, trust me, I am not an easy person to impress.
And she also laughed good-naturedly. She seemed relaxed, yet in complete command. She joked at her own expense (and the joke was even funny).
In short, Rice was nothing like the wooden, overly-studied, fussy image I’d had of her during her State Department days.
What is it, I wondered, that makes our leaders behave so unnaturally, so stilted, so artificially in public. Can they possibly suspect we want them to act in that way?
In any event, today’s performance made me wish this Rice (not the Rice we saw during the Bush, Jr. administration) would run for higher office. We deserve a leader this engaged, this smart and, yes, this human.
2 thoughts on “Shock of Not-Woodeness”
Good piece, Brent
I’ve always thought Condy was comfortable with who she is, yes, even in her Bush years. I think her history of having to overcome many barriers helped her to reach a state of equipoise with her ego. Most of the others you allude to appear not to have reached that balanced state. As many of us have not either..
I also think our view of others is colored often by our own thoughts. If we agree with them they appear more appealing, and vice versa. My own view of the relatively new GOP governor of NC, one McCrory (ex mid level manager at Duke Energy and former Mayor of Charlotte) before he became governor was of a somewhat mannerly apparatchik who could get the trains to run on time. Today after a few months presiding over the most backward looking Tea Party policies brought down on the heads of the (deserving nonvoting) people of NC he looks more like Beelzebub. I can’t wait to see McCrory back as the mild mannered Duke Energy mid level manager.
Since this time you were not in the presence of the State Department Condy (with whom I know you frequently disagreed) it is highly possible that shorn of polcy considerations you were more open to accepting her undoubted qualities as a human being and teacher. Congrats 🙂
I’ll own my baggage any day, Chris. But this here was a quality of performance thing.