Kathleen Parker

As an African-American and a woman, she neutralizes the two Democratic front-runners. That race and gender shouldn't matter goes without saying, except that the candidates -- or their surrogates -- have made the campaign at least partly about putting a black man or a woman, both firsts, in the White House.

Rice also brings foreign policy experience that can't be matched by any of the front-runners of either party. Fluent in Russian, she holds a Ph.D. in international studies and is an expert in Soviet military affairs. Not a bad resume item in an era when Vladimir Putin is so busy flexing his muscles that he can't seem to keep his shirt on.

A former provost of Stanford University, she also served as national security adviser during George W. Bush's first term. Since becoming secretary of state, she's busied herself trying to advance democracies in the Middle East and, recently, getting Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas and Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert to sit down together.

That she's failed to perform miracles places her in the good company of nearly everyone else who similarly tried with little success to combine the words "peace" and "Middle East" in the same sentence.

Finally, she's attractive, well-spoken and can play a mean piano sonata. We have done much worse in selecting co-stars for the presidential drama.

Dueker, who plans to set up a booth at next month's CPAC (Conservative Political Action Conference) in Washington, says an internal poll by Zogby International found that 41 percent of Republicans thought Rice would bring "excitement" to the presidential ticket.

The question is whether Condi is feeling the love.

Kathleen Parker

Kathleen Parker is a syndicated columnist with the Washington Post Writers Group.
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