Condoleezza Rice's Professional Future

What might be the U.S. National Security Advisor’s next job?

September 16, 2003

What might be the U.S. National Security Advisor's next job?

No, Condoleezza Rice is not aiming to succeed Collin Powell and become the Secretary of State — as many are predicting. Intriguingly, such a move would make Ms. Rice the first U.S. National Security Advisor to move to the State Department since Henry Kissinger.

Those who are hoping to see her run for the U.S. Senate from California are likely to be disappointed as well.

But those observers who are expecting her to leave the Bush Administration soon may be closer to the truth. The big question is: Do they really know what her next career move will be?

Condoleezza Rice may have accidentally given a hint, when she appeared on the FOX News Special Report with Brit Hume on September 9, 2003. Discussing the stiff price tag — measuring $160 billion and counting — of getting rid of Saddam Hussein, she retorted:

"Yes, the price tag may be very high. However, freedom is priceless. Security is priceless."

The FOX television network is notorious in advertising itself as neutral and even-handed. As their own motto proclaims, they are a no-spin outfit. "We Report, You Decide."

It's a pity. Because that phrase bears investigating. And perhaps it contains the clue to Ms. Rice's next career move.

For her wording bears an uncanny resemblance to MasterCard commercials that have been running on U.S. television for several years now.

You know the type. First you see the kind of equipment and expenses that you have to reckon with in order to do a job, attend a concert or sports event — or go on vacation.

Each has its own distinctive set of price tags. But, the ad proclaims, the emotions you get out of the project — be it playing hockey with your kid, hiking a high mountain or moving into your first home — are “priceless.”

Evidently, if Ms. Rice is preparing to move from the White House to become the next spokesperson for MasterCard, it could work very well. Imagine this:

"Cruise missiles — $500,000 each. 146,000 troops stationed in Iraq — $1 billion per week. Reward for Saddam's head — $25 million. Freedom and a sense of security — priceless."

A pause.

"You bring the Stars and Stripes. For everything else, there is MasterCard."

Probably, Ms. Rice has been practicing her new pitch so much that it accidentally came out during the FOX show. But there also is an alternative, less charitable explanation. She may simply be watching too much television.

That would be truly bad news. Remember, President Bush is reported to spend a great deal of his time in the gym, watching sports on TV — and taking a European-style month-long vacation at his ranch in Crawford, TX.

His spin doctors have been at pains to portray Mr. Bush as a competent chief executive, who efficiently delegates the tasks of running the country to members of his cabinet. They, in turn, work hard — while the boss maintains a lighter schedule.

But now it turns out that his National Security Advisor may have been watching so much television, that she has started to quote commercials.