“Today’s headlines and history’s judgment are rarely the same,” Condoleezza Rice said Thursday evening to a receptive audience at Schwab Impact 2010 in Boston. The former national security advisor and Secretary of State in the George W. Bush Administration, who has now returned to academia as a professor at Stanford, addressed a wide range of political and economic issues in her prepared speech and a Q&A session with advisor attendees at the Schwab show, which ends Friday morning.
Her “headlines and history” comment was the mantra she said she repeated to herself while serving as Secretary of State, noting that during that time she had also kept close to her images of four previous secretaries of state for inspiration: Thomas Jefferson, George Marshall, Dean Acheson, and William Seward. The earliest applause she received from the audience was when she suggested that Jefferson might have been overrated at the expense of fellow founding father Alexander Hamilton. Her point was that it was “important to stay focused on what’s important,” and as a leadership suggestion, she said that how a leader behaves is how the leader's colleagues and employees will behave.
While she talked of terrorism and education, of Russia and music—and received more applause when she said “we all owe our gratitude to those men and women who have volunteered to stand in the front lines of democracy"—she first addressed the state of the global economy, and asked how we could “get a good judgment of history” on the economy.
“What did we learn from how the major economic powers dealt with the financial crisis?” she asked. For one thing the European Union did not come out well; the Greek debt crisis showed that the EU’s “one currency, one fiscal policy” headline was flawed, that the crisis was “eating away at European unity,” and that in addition to “sclerotic demographics,” the European Union has an underlying weakness.
By contrast, she said Brazil and India came through the crisis well due to solid reserves and banking policies. India could very well emerge