BOSTON — For nearly a year now, the eat-your-own Republican primary has made for amusing political drama.
The GOP has seemingly revived the tradition of local theatre with an epic string of debates featuring wing-nuts like Herman Cain, Ron Paul and Michele Bachmann.
Key take away message: The right has pitched a very big tent. Sarah Palin is by no means alone among its eccentrics.
But now that Republicans have selected a presidential candidate, the shenanigans are behind us, right?
From the party of Reagan, Bush and Bush we can expect a disciplined, focused and united effort to defeat President Barack Obama in November, right?
Well, may not.
Today, Wall Street Journal columnist and deputy editorial page editor Brett Stephens weighs in one of the party's brightest intellectual stars, former Secretary of State Condoleeza Rice.
Rice is currently favored as Mitt Romney's vice presidential nomination, with an approval rating of 80 percent among GOP voters. Her closest rival is Rick Santorum, a political non-starter, having spent the primaries dumping on Romney, his would-be boss.
Although the WSJ editorial page tilts Republican, Stephens doesn't share voters' favorable view of Rice.
And that's an understatement.
Here's Stephen's nut:
"[Rice] was on the wrong side of some of the administration's biggest internal policy fights. She had a tendency to flip-flop when it came to the president's core priorities and her political misjudgment more than once cost Mr. Bush dearly. She was a muddler of differences at the national security council. Her tenure at State was notable mainly for the degree to which the bureaucracy ran her, not the other way around."
Ouch. That's no ringing endorsement.
Objectively speaking, Rice is an asset in the way that "9-9-9" or "End the Fed" isn't.
Regardless of whether you agree with her, she is a widely respected expert on foreign policy, with experience throughout the highly charged Bush presidency. She is eloquent and worldly, a longtime professor at Stanford. In a party that has struggled with gravitas, she certainly knows what newspapers she reads. To convince the electorate that she is qualified, she won't need to claim that Russia is visible from her bedroom window.
Credentials aside, she would also strengthen the already-tattered Republican ticket.
Stephens concedes this point: