In Condoleezza Rice, Augusta has picked a fitting trailblazer

It should be little surprise that Condoleezza Rice, the current Stanford professor and former secretary of state, has broken one of America’s most absurd gender barriers: the ban on women members at Augusta National Golf Club. Rice has the resume, the prestige, and, apparently, the golf game to merit membership in the exclusive club. (Augusta’s other new female member, Darla Moore, is a billionaire banker and philanthropist.) But Rice isn’t just hobnobbing with the golf elite these days. She currently appears as a model, wearing a fitted Cleveland Browns jersey, in glossy magazine ads for NFL apparel. And a few weeks ago, she was on many people’s wish lists as a vice presidential nominee.

Even her political appeal speaks to the striking success of Rice’s post-government career. Whatever controversy surrounds her role in Bush-era foreign policy, Rice has managed to transcend it. In part, that’s because of her compelling biography. But it’s also because of the image she has carved for herself as a good-natured, relatable figure, willing to embrace her celebrity and dig into various American pursuits. Rice loves football. She plays golf. She’s able to laugh at herself. (She appeared last year on NBC’s “30 Rock,” verbally sparring with Alec Baldwin and showing off her piano-playing skills). The decision to open Augusta came several decades too late — at the very least. But when it comes to choosing trailblazers, the golf club could certainly have done worse.

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