The shameful take down of Susan Rice

December 14, 2012

U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations Susan Rice will not be the next Secretary of State after asking President Barack Obama to withdraw her name for consideration from the post.

And, frankly, I’m kind of relieved. This means that time and energy won’t be wasted on a fight the GOP was determined to have to once more gridlock everything in Congress so that the president will have as thin a legacy as possible. (Good luck with that, given Obamacare.) It’s absolutely certain Rice would have had the votes for confirmation but it’s also absolutely certain that wouldn’t have stopped Republicans from doing everything possible to drag the matter out.

I’m also incensed at how this deal went down: a truly cheap shot on the part of a couple of senators and the right wing blogosphere having a tantrum over Obama’s continued presidency and needing to strike out at someone -- anything -- that could hurt him. This is spite and nothing else.

I have no idea whether Rice would have been a good Secretary of State -- her tenure at the UN suggests she might been exemplary, perhaps even eclipsing the current Secretary, but her financial interests in energy companies, particularly Canadian tar sands, would have complicated her nomination with progressives, and certainly, if confirmed, would have left her open to conflict of interest charges in terms of her duties.

But what I do know is that Rice was hounded out of the nominating process by a handful of Republican senators because they needed a target for their anger and resentment over Obama’s seismic election victory. And Rice, a high-level appointee with close personal ties to the president, made for a perfect target.

Because the GOP’s number one goal for the last four years has been not to create jobs, not to ensure the nation’s security, not to fix the economic mess created by one of their own, but to deny a Obama second term -- to fix the 2008 electorate’s historical error, if you will, and return things to how they presumably used to be.

The audacity of the president’s 2012 triumph is that it has left this sad crop of white men with no purpose whatsoever. Obama’s victory wasn’t merely personal -- a stiff middle finger in the face of all those who insisted he was alien and and un-American -- but a full-on view of the future: an America that is more diverse, more of color, more democratic than it’s ever been.

The 2012 election was the very last time a political party will be able to depend on white votes for a national victory -- which means that all those extreme regional wins (Texas, Mississippi, Kentucky -- I’m talking to you) will ultimately have to be moderated as well.

Is Susan Rice guilty of some kind of cover up about the goings on in Benghazi? Pretty unlikely. Is she guilty of partisanship in her television appearances that fateful Sunday morning? Perhaps.

But what’s galling is that the two senators behind the campaign to kill her promotion were two of the loudest voices protecting former Secretary of State Condoleeza Rice after she was caught out and out lying about weapons of mass destruction in Iraq -- a lie that wasn’t promulgated on Sunday TV shows but in congressional testimony, a lie which did not influence Sunday TV viewers before an election but which lead us into a war that has cost nearly 5,000 American lives and more than 110,000 civilian lives.

For shame, gentlemen, for shame.

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