She walks fast, talks fast and packs her schedule, from her ritual exercise at 5:30 a.m. to phone calls late at night. She glides on the thin ice of diplomacy in a whirl between continents, a former competitive skater who gave up the sport because it was too solitary.
Actually, the same was true of Charles E. Hughes.
Everywhere she goes abroad, Rice occupies front-page real estate in the local papers. At home, it is possible her clothes and hair are under closer scrutiny than her job performance.
Not unlike Walter Q. Gresham.
She was brave enough to stride through a U.S. Army base in Germany wearing a long, high-necked coat and black stiletto boots. She laughed off stares and admiring comments when she wore a daring red ball gown to a staid Washington dinner.
Two words: James Buchanan.
All of the travel aside, whether she will end up as a consequential secretary of state remains to be seen.
Or she could just redefine "consequential", I suppose.
She likes the give and take of a setting like the political science academy Sciences Po in Paris, where she gave a speech in February. Centerpiece of a fence-mending trip to Europe, the speech was mostly notable for its location -- a hotbed of French academic liberalism.
Try Googling "Thomas Jefferson" "France" and "hot beds".
While breaking no new ground, Rice was charming and sharp in answering questions, impressing scholars not easily swayed by U.S. arguments.
And they didn't swoon for William Rogers?
Rice manages to look perfectly put together almost always. Bobby pins keep that modified 1960s flip hairdo in place.
Okay, this one's an innovation.
A minor exception: her occasional appearance on her plane wearing a velour track suit. But even that is a step above the polyester track suit Powell used to wear, which appeared to be chain-store quality and Reagan-administration vintage.
I went to an AP wire story and an episode of What Not To Wear broke out. (/Rodney Dangerfield)
Rice even managed to look dignified, if startled, when a former Japanese sumo star enveloped her in a bear hug on the tarmac in Tokyo.
A first for a Secretary of State, but the great Yokozuna Tochinishiki did the Twist with then Secretary of the Interior Stewart Udall in 1962.
She could have worshipped in South Korea instead and still kept her perfect attendance record; doing so in China was a subtle poke at the atheistic communist leaders.
I have nothing to add here. I just love it that "atheistic communist" can still make it into an AP story.
Some in the crowd of paparazzi shouted "con dolcezza," the Italian musical term from which her unusual first name is derived. It means to play "with sweetness."
Some of you might have imagined they were just shouting out her name, and that Ms Gearan has used the occasion to end her piece with one last lingering soul kiss for the Secretary. But the Italians are a very musical people, which explains why those same paparazzi were shouting, "Hey, Semplice!" at Bush.