CAGOP14: Condoleezza Rice’s luncheon speech

It’s not just the California Republican Party that needs rebuilding – it’s America itself, former U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice said Saturday at the state GOP convention in Burlingame.

Condoleezza-Rice-photo-by-Steve-Gladfelter-Stanford.jpgRice, now a Stanford professor and Hoover Institution senior fellow, said the American “pursuit of happiness” requires opportunity, community and responsibility to each other, as well as to people around the world who don’t yet have the liberties we enjoy.

That requires “proper balance between the rights and responsibilities of the individual, and the powers of government,” Rice said. “We don’t mean ‘no government’ – that’s not what our founders believe.”

Instead, she said, we need a government that imposes few regulations and low taxes upon the private sector “because it is the private sector that is creative, innovative and risk-taking” in creating jobs and opportunities for citizens.

“We must be committed to the belief that individuals have choices, and we will respect the choices of each other,” Rice said. “On one hand, we are the most individualistic people on the face of the earth … But we… are also the most philanthropic. This is a country where people give up their resources and their time to good causes.”

But public entitlements aren’t the answer, she said. Nor should Americans be jealous of each others’ success, she said; anyone can succeed with hard work and perseverance, so long as they’re given a good education.

She said she can’t understand how some people move to wealthy neighborhoods to get their children into good schools, or send their children to private schools, and then argue against school choice.

“The greatest civil rights issue of our time is a high-quality education for every child,” she said, calling for a school-voucher system.

More from Rice, after the jump…

On foreign relations, Rice said the Russian invasion of Ukraine’s Crimean peninsula is what happens when an authoritarian nation is emboldened by its control over significant oil resources. America can and should change the balance of world power by developing more of its own energy, she said.

“None of this works if we’re not strong, if we don’t have what Ronald Reagan called
‘peace through strength,’” she said, even if America is weary after more than a decade of war and terrorism, because sustaining a strong military role abroad will make the nation safer.

If America leaves a power vacuum, it will be filled by likes of Syria’s Bashar al-Assad, terrorists in Iraq, Chinese nationalists and Russia’s Vladimir Putin, Rice said.

“America has to lead … because this is the freest and most generous nation on earth, and it is exceptional,” she said. “We have a view of how history should unfold, and we have been willing to sacrifice for that view.”

And just as America must lead the world, California must lead America in standing for these conservative values, she said.

Josh Richman

Josh Richman covers state and national politics for the Bay Area News Group. A New York City native, he earned a bachelor’s degree in journalism from the University of Missouri and reported for the Express-Times of Easton, Pa. for five years before coming to the Oakland Tribune and ANG Newspapers in 1997. He is a frequent guest on KQED Channel 9’s “This Week in Northern California;” a proud father; an Eagle Scout; a somewhat skilled player of low-stakes poker; a rather good cook; a firm believer in the use of semicolons; and an unabashed political junkie who will never, EVER seek elected office.

  • Elwood

    Condi for President!

  • JohnW

    If the California GOP could rebuild with center-right people like Condi, we could have competitive two-party politics in the state, which would be healthy. There are a lot of potential swing districts in the state, but both the left and right need to operate mostly between the 20 yard lines.

  • Elwood


    by Mona Charen


  • JohnW

    Mona scares me. What does she recommend, sending NATO troops (meaning U.S. troops) into Ukraine? If Putin is determined to re-establish hegemony over Russian-ethnic border states that were formerly in the U.S.S.R., how is it in the strategic interests of the United States to spill blood and treasure preventing that. Germany and Poland are gone from the Russian sphere forever. Estonia, Latvia? That’s another story.

  • Elwood
  • JohnW

    So I guess the Blitz of London will commence any day now. Look out Paris, here comes Vladimir.

  • Elwood

    An easy and accurate analogy can be drawn between Hitler in 1938 and Putin in 2014. Both make noises about protecting their citizens in other countries and both were negotiating with weak leaders. President Doofus must have studied Chamberlain.

  • JohnW

    “Easy” analogies are usually “simplistic” and fail to use the kind of “compare and contrast” critical thinking they start to teach in 3rd grade. We should be especially wary of the Hitler and Neville Chamberlain comparisons.

    Putin is a major problem, to be sure. He is indeed using the excuse of “protecting” the Russian speaking population in Ukraine. It is also true that the presence of ethnic Russians in Eastern Ukraine and the Baltic states is the result of post WW2 moves by Uncle Joe Stalin.

    Here is where Hitler comparisons fall apart. Annexing Crimea violates international law. However, it is the home of Russia’s Black Sea Navy fleet and became separated from Russia only because Khrushchev (a Ukrainian) made it part of Ukraine in 1954 when Ukraine was an integral part of the U.S.S.R. If Putin’s moves begin and end with Crimea, cold reality is that there is nothing anybody could have done to prevent it, not even St. Reagan. Remember how IKE, not exactly an appeaser, took bold action and stopped the Soviet invasion of Hungary? Oh, I forgot. It was ugly, but not something anybody was ready to start WW III with nukes over.

    If Putin pushes into Eastern parts of Ukraine, that makes the situation worse. But it is not something even Hawks are willing to go to war over. Putin knows that. If there is a Neville Chamberlain, it is the Chancellor of Germany dragging her feet on economic sanctions, not POTUS.

    The very worst case in all this is that Russia reclaims all of Ukraine and the smaller border states. The more of that he does, the more the Russian economy will fall apart, and the more resistance he will meet from populations that don’t have nostalgia for The Motherland. He will over-reach. This is not Hitler rolling across Europe, trying to invade Great Britain, sending U-boats to attack supply ships off the U.S. Atlantic coast, sending people to gas chambers and declaring the Thousand Year Third Reich. Putin lacks the self-interest, the means and the stupidity to mess with core liberated states like Poland or the former East Germany that are now aligned with the West and NATO.

    The bottom line question here is what the heck is it that you think POTUS should have done or could have done to stop Putin? Do you really think there is support among U.S. citizens, including Republicans, to take the kind of actions that would stop Putin in his tracks? We have to play the long game, isolate Putin and his Oligarch cronies economically and let him self-destruct.

  • RRSenileColumnist

    Russia is never as strong as she looks; Russia is never as weak as she looks.—Talleyrand