Obama drops the ball (and Susan Rice) again
"(T)he confirmation process would be lengthy, disruptive, and costly -- to you and to our most pressing national and international priorities. That trade-off is simply not worth it to our country." -- Susan RiceSusan Rice, letter to President Obama
CNN is reporting that Susan Rice, the U.S. ambassador to the United Nations, has “voluntarily” withdrawn her name from consideration as Hillary Clinton’s successor as secretary of state.
Rice has been under heavy, repeated, unrelenting, and unwarranted criticism from Republicans and right wing media over statements she made following the September attacks on the U.S. diplomatic mission in Benghazi, Libya. Those attacks took the lives of the Ambassador to Libya, Chris Stevens, and three other CIA operatives.
Her withdrawal came in the form of a letter dated Thursday, Dec. 13, 2012 to President Barack Obama. Here is the complete text of Rice's letter to the President. Obama promptly described Rice as "an extraordinarily capable, patriotic, and passionate public servant."
Clinton has said in the past that she would relinquish her office immediately upon the confirmation of a successor.
As stated, the right wing’s critique of Rice supposedly centered around her descriptions of the September 11, 2012, attack on the U.S. mission in Benghazi, Libya. On several television programs following the attack, she called the attacks essentially outgrowths of area-wide protests of an anti-Islam video which had originated inside the US. She made it clear, though, that her comments were based solely on still evolving, declassified talking points from both the State Department, the CIA, and other sources within the US intelligence community. Further, she indicated that said “talking points,” though known by the White House, were not modified the Obama administration.
For his part, President Obama, uncharacteristically, staunchly defended her. Indeed, he called the criticism from a number of Republican senators "outrageous." Specifically, he said late last month that, "If Sen. McCain and Sen. (Lindsey) Graham and others want to go after someone, they should go after me. When they go after the UN ambassador, apparently because they think she's an easy target, then they've got a problem with me."
In an attempt to placate those senators, Rice paid at least two visits to Capitol Hill to address what the legislators called "unanswered questions." Her visits, however, were unavailing, and indeed may have backfired. The Republican senators who attended the meetings said Rice’s answers to their questions only raised more questions.
This is President Obama’s first significant confrontation with the defeated Republican Party and America’s right wing since his decisive electoral victory on Nov. 6.
The attacks against Rice by the right were obviously and clearly partisan, personal, sexist and, yes, racist. Former Secretary of State Condescending Rice is African American, too, you say? And so was Gen. Colin Powell. True enough. But, you see, they were the "right kind" of African Americans. Susan Rice is not. The “liberal left” and the “progressive” wings of the Democratic Party were hoping against hope that this time this president would “stand his ground” and face down these Republican naysayers to the bitter end.
Alas, this was not to be. It is simply not believable that Rice “voluntarily” threw in the towel here. The word is that some of Obama’s most influential advisers pressured him into believing that this was not the fight he wanted or needed so early in his still-forming second and final administration. And, in his continuing, very frustrating, even nerve racking way of always yielding in order to “go along to get along” with people who have avowed to obstruct and obfuscate his every move, the president, once again, capitulated.
This is not a good omen and does not bode well for the future….for the budget battles ahead, for the “fiscal cliff” negotiations…for the next four years. It is an indication that, as one pundit put it, Obama simply has no backbone or is himself a closet Republican.