When Rice and Moore slip on their green members jackets it will be an arresting moment — but not for the reasons posed by those who demanded Augusta accept a woman as a blackmailed concession to social engineering, or some lame gesture of affirmation. It will be arresting for their sheer subversion of that tired old dynamic. What we have here isn’t a case of powerful men granting acceptance to a couple of women and uplifting them to a new level of social stature. What we have here is a couple of powerfully successful women uplifting a bunch of men to new stature — and granting them social amnesty.
Rice and Moore are likely to be the most professionally high-achieving members of Augusta National, home of the Masters, which was built by the golf great Robert Jones 80 years ago not as a social club, but rather a world-class course and masterpiece of landscape architecture.
Over the years the membership evolved; it fancied itself collectors of dignified yet aggressive businessmen. Members are said to include Bill Gates, Warren Buffett, Kenneth Chenault, Sanford Weill, George Schultz, and executives from Coca-Cola, General Electric, Rockwell, Bechtel, etc.
Rice and Moore’s leadership credentials stand up to any of them. It’s easy to overlook Moore, 58, given that she is being talked about in tandem with Rice, 57, national security adviser and secretary of state under President George W. Bush. Like Rice, Moore is self-made. She started out a farm kid in Lake City, S.C., found her way to Washington to work for the Republican National Committee, got a master’s from George Washington in 1981, and joined Chemical Bank, where she rose from a trainee to the highest paid woman in the entire banking industry in just a decade. She had a knack for taking companies from bankruptcy to profitability; Fortune magazine declared her “the toughest babe in business,” and “a cross between the Terminator and Kim Basinger,” and credits her with tripling the wealth of her partner-husband, Texas financier Richard Rainwater. The University of South Carolina’s business school named itself after her; she has given it about $70 million.
But Moore’s career in philanthropy is even more interesting. She launched the Palmetto Institute, an independent nonprofit dedicated to increasing the income of every person in South Carolina. And she has devoted the last two years to funding science research since her husband was diagnosed with a tragic degenerative brain illness called progressive supranuclear palsy, which is like Alzheimer’s disease, only faster. Moore has helped Rainwater launch and finance a private panel of world-renowned researchers to work on the disease. The panel’s findings are likely to have a significant impact on Alzheimer’s research. If that’s not enough, Moore is on the national board of directors of Teach for America.