Isn’t it strange that the most powerful woman in the world is not some outraged feminist poseur but a brainy conservative who loves freedom and beautiful clothes?

“She swept into the lobby of the Capital Hilton for the 120th annual Gridiron Dinner last night, the television cameras, and the tourists, and the curious…” began Neely Tucker’s account of the Gridiron Dinner in the Washington Post that dwelt on the secretary’s smashing red evening dress.

“The secretary of state wowed ’em in Europe, even in Paris, where some of the old geezers leaning on their canes and sipping absinthe on the Champs Elysee thought she was Josephine Baker (without the bananas),” writes Wes Pruden, “demonstrating what we already knew over here: Condi is as good as she looks.”

“Condolezza Rice’s coat and boots speak sex and power,” proclaimed a recent Washington Post analysis of her style.

Although the secretary is getting a lot of favorable publicity right now, we can rest assured that Rice will never be the subject a “strange new respect” profile — that’s what the media discovers for somebody who succumbs to the temptation to garner good press by forsaking conservative positions.

“When we asked her about her harsh characterization of the harsh regime in North Korea (‘an outpost of tyranny’), the sort of plain speech that usually sends the ladies-in-waiting at the State Department for smelling salts, she didn’t back down a millimeter,” writes an admiring Pruden. ‘I don’t think there is any doubt that I spoke the truth,’ she told us. ‘I don’t know that one apologizes for speaking the truth.’

“This is not how secretaries of state ordinarily talk, weaned as they usually are on blue john and schooled in the ways of avoiding standing up too tall if the national interest is all that’s at stake. The first rule in Foggy Bottom is that you save your energy for fighting for the really important stuff, like bureaucratic turf. Six secretaries of state have made it to the White House, but none since James Buchanan in 1857. Thin blood can’t cut it.”