It has on occasion scandalized my Democrat friends, but I’ve been a Condoleezza Rice fan since I learned who she was in early 2001. (Actually, I was a fan of both Bush’s Secretaries of State, at least for a time.) So it was interesting to see her interviewed on the Daily Show a month ago, and to read the Racialicious take on her book. Both did the difficult, valuable work of exploring what it took for a black woman to rise to her position, and why race and gender politics can’t always be neatly divided between red and blue.

The review is what convinced me that I need to read the book, but the interview revived a lot of what I felt about politics in college: that neither nobility nor corruption is bounded by party lines, that tribalism can blind you to either, and that if someone says “it’s more complicated than that” they might be right. (They might also be wrong.) I was politically naive in a number of ways, sure, and I ended up as a registered Democrat a few years later, but I’m glad my naivete pointed toward ambivalence rather than polarization. For one thing, it helped cement my friendship with centrists like IGR and Dr. Weston, who are noticeably smarter than me and who help me remember to check my impulses at the gate of intellect.

It’s not like I’m going to suddenly start voting for the party of the Southern strategy. Still, Condoleezza Rice learned her political loyalties in a milieu dominated by Dixiecrats, and I can’t blame her for staying put when the racist masses started drifting to the right. I hope I never get entrenched too deeply to notice if something similar happens to the leaders I follow now.