While in Lithuania, Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice sat down for an interview with Fox New's James Rosen. While Sec. Rice is a private person, he did draw out some interesting information on the Secretary's personal views and personal beliefs. Dawn's Early Light takes a look at some of the highlights:
Personal Reading Favorites
"QUESTION: What is the most influential book that you have ever read, excluding the Bible?
SECRETARY RICE: Excluding the Bible?
SECRETARY RICE: Probably the most influential book for me was a biography that -- several biographies that I’ve read of the Founding Fathers. I’m a big fan of biography and that’s really what I read, and to me these biographies of the Founding Fathers show that though these were giants in terms of the development of institutions and foresightfullness really of what it would take to have a stable democracy for a long time, they were also imperfect people, and they were trying to find the best way forward at any given time. And I think that’s a really good lesson for all of us."
While no specific books are named, it is still a very telling answer. Secretary Rice is interested in how the development of a stable democracy comes about. This is a very macro level approach. However, she adds about the "imperfect people" that are the architects of a successful system. It is telling on two levels, the first being its direct application to Iraq, Afghanistan and other transitional states moving towards democracy, and on a second level that individual principal actors (the micro) can make an impact on foreign affairs.
"QUESTION: What album have you listened to more times than any other album?
SECRETARY RICE: I’ve probably listened to the Brahms’s F Minor Piano Quintet (courtesy Amazon.com) more than anything else because it’s something I’ve struggled to learn, and I tend to, when I’m learning a piece, to listen to other versions of it to get ideas. And it’s probably my favorite piece in the world."
This is truly interesting. Dr. Rice was a classically trained pianist prior to her move into studying international relations. DEL knows nothing of music but did find some fascinating information on Johannes Brahms (1833-1897) from music blogger, Dr. Dick Strawser. The piece Dr. Rice references was originally composed by Brahms for two pianos to play. Brahms was a man who never married, and the woman he loved married someone else. While not wanting to read into Brahms' life story and Dr. Rice's admiration for his work, it is fascinating the parallels they share: extremely gifted, fast risers in their respective fields, and neither ever married.
On People She Admires from the Civil Rights Movement
"QUESTION: In your office I saw prominently displayed a copy of -- an aging paperback copy of Malcolm X Speaks.
SECRETARY RICE: Mm-hmm.
QUESTION: Do you admire Malcolm X?
SECRETARY RICE: Well, I think certainly he was a critically important historical figure. I don’t admire some of the things that he stood for, but as an historical figure at that particular point in Black history, he was an important man.
QUESTION: How so?
SECRETARY RICE: Well, because there was, at the time, a struggle in the Black community to better understand what we were going through in the ‘60s, how to do it. Obviously, I, myself, believe that the decision not to use violence was the right decision. But there was a kind of need for pride in a Black community that had been systematically denied any sense of pride.
QUESTION: Wouldn’t you look, maybe, to a different figure, like Mohammed Ali, for that?
SECRETARY RICE: I looked to Martin Luther King, of course, for that. I looked to people like Dr. Dorothy Height for that sense of pride. I looked to my own parents and my own grandparents, who maintained an extraordinary sense of pride. And they did it not rejecting America but really accepting the ground rules of what it meant and took to get ahead in the United States. And that’s probably why, even though Malcolm X was a great historical figure, an important historical figure, he was not particularly a figure that I would have admired."
The exchange on Malcolm X is interesting, and her answer about his significance and importance to the civil rights movement is telling as well. However, she does not admire several of the violent aspects that Malcolm X espoused. Mr. Rosen attempts to lead her to Mohammed Ali as a black figure to be respected and who embodies pride. Secretary Rice is quick in replying her respect for a Christian and leader of the civil rights movement, Martin Luther King, Jr., rather than the Muslim boxer Ali. While this is only speculation, I imagine that Dr. Rice could relate to MLK. She respected greatly her father, who was a Methodist minister, much like Dr. King, who was a Baptist pastor.
On Marriage, Work and Faith (Destiny)
"QUESTION: Final question. And this is somewhat personal in nature. I know you don’t like to talk about yourself.
SECRETARY RICE: No, I don’t.
QUESTION: So that’s why I’m doing it (laughter). But many people would look at you, either if they know you well or perhaps especially if they don’t know you well, and they would say: “Here is a woman who has achieved extraordinary status and power. Here, too, is a woman who never married and who will remain childless.” And they might be tempted to look at those two situations and draw a causal connection or at least say -- infer that that reflects your priorities, per se. Is that a fair inference to draw?
SECRETARY RICE: No, I’ve never understood this juxtaposition. My view is that you don’t get married in the abstract, you actually would like to marry someone. And since that’s never come along for me, it's not the rejection of marriage, I don't think that I've been too busy doing other things. I don't see these as choices somehow. I see them as the way life has unfolded.
And I do think that sometimes there's a misunderstanding that if you did not marry, that you somehow do not have a life. I've read that, you know, about myself from time to time: "Well, it must be all work." I have great friends and family and hobbies and avocations and many, many things that I love doing. I have a tremendously full life and I think that's true for a lot of people who chose-who did not marry.
QUESTION: So you think that had you chosen-or had not chosen- you think that had you been married and been raising kids, you still possibly could have achieved the-- the power and the status that you have?
SECRETARY RICE: I really don't know how you can make a post hoc determination of something like that. Life has unfolded the way life has unfolded. And probably because I'm also a deeply religious person, I believe it's unfolded as it should have. And I'm awfully glad that it's unfolded this particular way."
One can see, in her answer to this question, why she and President Bush can be often of one mind in seeing problems. Both tend to the concrete and are uninterested in abstract arguments that do not affect the here and now. Both are guided by their faith. As Sec. Rice says, "I'm also a deeply religious person. I believe it's unfolded as it should have." She is content, as well she should be, with the success she has attained. She does not see marriage and children versus work and achievement as conflicting or even a part of the same debate.
Whether she plans on running for the White House or other political office, Secretary Rice is an extremely admirable person with an amazing history and an exceptionally bright future.