If you think it’s a coincidence that Matt Drudge has put his siren on to blast the ‘news’ that Condoleezza Rice is the ‘front-runner’ to be Mitt Romney’s running-mate just as Romney’s campaign fends off fresh questions about his record at Bain Capital then, my friends, you’re charmingly naive.

This isn’t a serious proposition. It’s just a smokescreen. Romney may be many things but he’s not wholly daft. He’s not going to pick a pro-choice woman who is also, probably, in favour of gay marriage. Nor, alas, does Condi bring a record of achievement to the ticket. As Daniel Larison observes, in typically withering style:

‘Let’s briefly review [Peggy] Noonan’s argument for Rice to appreciate just how wrong it is. Rice is a figure of &”obvious and nameable accomplishment”? Which accomplishment would that be? Completely failing to do a competent job as National Security Adviser? Presiding over the worst period of U.S.-Russian relations since the Cold War? Facilitating Hamas’ takeover of Gaza? Advising Bush as he embarked on one of the greatest debacles of post-WWII U.S. foreign policy? Helping to shape one of the most disastrous foreign policy records of modern times? Take your pick. No one can take any of that away from her. Her accomplishment is obvious. Noonan says that Rice wouldn’t be &”learning on the job.” Certainly not. She didn’t seem to learn anything while she was in her previous administration positions, so why start now? Choosing her as the VP nominee would have a &”certain boldness.” Then again, driving off of a cliff demonstrates a &”certain boldness.”’

Quite. Rice may have a paper record demonstrating some fitness for the position but her actual record is another matter entirely. (Equally, it might be worth remembering there’s no evidence she even wants the damn job.) And since the Obama campaign is likely to claim that Romney wants to take the United States back to the Bush years it would be strange indeed to pick a running-mate whose presence on the ticket justifies that attack and perhaps even confirms it.

It can’t be said too often that Vice-Presidents rarely make much difference to the ticket. Most of the time they don’t matter very much at all (hello Mr Quayle!) but when they do it’s because they confirm a “new direction” (Gore) or offer some reassurance a callow President won’t be over-matched in Washington (Cheney, strange as that may seem now). Picking Rice wouldn’t be as disastrous as selecting Sarah Palin but it wouldn’t be very clever either. What’s the upside? There isn’t one.

Tags: Elections, George bush, Mitt Romney, Republicans