It says a lot about the Republican Party's posture right now that in its platform, Ronald Reagan is mentioned nine times and George W. Bush only three (the latter, in the context of tax cuts and the global fight against AIDS). The GOP has deliberately distanced itself from Bush during the campaign season; Mitt Romney rarely mentions the former president's name on the campaign trail, and neither Bush nor his father will be speaking at the convention this week (the two appeared in a video that aired on Wednesday, and Bush's brother Jeb will deliver an address on Thursday).
In fact, the only top Bush administration official making an appearance in Tampa is former National Security Advisor and Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice, who is often credited with helping scale back some of Bush's more hawkish policies during his second term. Rice, who appeared alongside Romney during Chris Christie's keynote address on Tuesday, is speaking at the convention Wednesday evening. Ahead of her talk, she made the media rounds to explain why Romney would "lead from in front" and "understand American exceptionalism." This is "not a time to look back, it's a time to look forward," she noted.
But what's ironic is that if you do indeed look back, Rice may be the Bush official most at odds with where Romney and the Republican Party currently stand on some of the most pressing foreign-policy issues of the day. Here are five topics Rice may want to sidestep when she delivers her prime-time address.
Rice may have included North Korea in her list of "outposts of tyranny" in 2005, but she also spearheaded six-party nuclear weapons talks with Pyongyang and met with the country's foreign minister in 2008, striking a deal in which the United States removed North Korea from its list of state sponsors of terrorism and green-lighted fuel and food supplies in exchange for North Korea pledging to dismantle a nuclear facility and disclose details about its nuclear program.
John Bolton, Bush's former U.N. advisor, condemned the concessions. "Nothing can erase the ineffable sadness of an American presidency, like this one, in total intellectual collapse," he wrote. Last year, former Vice President Dick Cheney also lashed out at Rice's policy in a memoir. "It was a sad moment because it seemed to be a repudiation of the Bush Doctrine and a reversal of so much of what we had accomplished in the area of nonproliferation in the first term," he recalled.
Bolton is now one of Romney's foreign-policy advisors, and Romney has assumed a much less conciliatory posture toward North Korea. The candidate has criticized the Obama administration for "embolden[ing]" Pyongyang and pursuing a "food-aid deal," and called for harsher sanctions to combat the country's nuclear program rather than "a series of carrots in return for only illusory cooperation."