Rice Falls Flat
Friday December 14, 2012
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Article II, Section 2, paragraph 2 of the U.S. Constitution:
[The President] … shall nominate, and by and with the Advice and Consent of the Senate, shall appoint Ambassadors …
One of the officials that requires Senate confirmation is the United States' Permanent Representative to the United Nations. As this person generally holds Ambassadorial rank the common shorthand is Ambassador to the U.N.
The person who currently holds that position is Susan E. Rice. Ambassador Rice was, as we say, "floated" as the next Secretary of State when the current Secretary, Hillary Clinton resigns - perhaps to prepare to deliver the next Jefferson-Jackson Day speech in Des Moines.
Ambassador Rice was sent out - hung out to dry - by President Obama in the aftermath of the Benghazi attacks when she said on a passel of Sunday shows that the attacks were the result of spontaneous demonstrations against the film that allegedly made fun of the Prophet Mohammed, which then escalated into a full-scale assault leading to the death of four Americans including the U.S. Ambassador to Libya, Christopher Stevens.
There are some in Washington who believe that in the run-up to the election the Obama Administration was very eager to make it clear that the President's foreign policy of combining non-confrontation with Islamic hardliners while whacking Al Qaeda officials by remote control aircraft was working.
A pre-planned, coordinated attack on the U.S. consulate in Benghazi when Ambassador Stevens happened to be there most certainly did not fit with that narrative.
Hence, Amb. Rice was given false statements which she dutifully delivered; again, and again, and again, and again, and again.
We don't yet know whether Amb. Rice thought what she was saying on those Sunday shows was horse hockey or not - and now we may never know - because she has withdrawn her name from consideration for the post of Secretary of State.
Senators John McCain (R-AZ) and Lindsey Graham (R-SC) led the anti-Rice charge. The President endorsed her at a post-election presser when he said
"If Senator McCain and Senator Graham want to go after somebody, they should go after me. I'm happy to have that discussion with them. But for them to go after the U.N. ambassador? Who had nothing to do with Benghazi? To besmirch her reputation? It's outrageous."
Yeah. Well, her reputation was besmirched (not a word you get to use every day) because of what the President's people told her to say, so this is all really on Obama; not McCain and Graham.
You could see the lines of attack being drawn on the sidewalk outside the Old Executive Office building: McCain and Graham are anti-woman. They are anti-African-American. They are certainly anti-African-American-woman.
The White House sent Ambassador Rice up to Capitol Hill in late November to try and make nice with the Senators.
It didn't work. In fact, it backfired.
If, following the meetings, they had restated their objections, McCain and Graham would not have swayed any of their colleagues.
But, during her trip to Capitol Hill Amb. Rice met with Senator Susan Collins (R-ME). Sen. Collins is known as a moderate. Maybe the last Republican moderate in the Senate.
As reporters Scott Wong and Seung Min Kim wrote in their Politico.com piece, Collins is
"just the type of moderate Republican who might help break a filibuster on a nomination."
After a 75-minute meeting with Rice in the secure briefing room under the Capitol, Collins came away unimpressed:
"I don't understand why she would not at least qualify her response to that question."
President Obama might have been able to force Susan Rice through the process with just McCain and Graham leading the opposition. But, whatever Rice said to Collins turned a Senator who should have been an ally into a detractor and it was obvious this was not going to succeed.
Susan Rice sent a letter to the President yesterday taking herself out of the running before she was ever officially in the running saying
"The position of secretary of state should never be politicized … We cannot afford such an irresponsible distraction from the most pressing issues facing the American people."
I don't remember Ambassador Rice leaping to John Bolton's defense when Senate Democrats refused, on purely political grounds, to confirm him for the U.N. post during the George W. Bush administration.
But, we know that Democrats oppose Republicans because of deeply held policy differences. Republicans oppose Democrats because Republicans politicize everything.
Sen. John Kerry will be confirmed as Secretary of State on a voice vote.
On the Secret Decoder Ring today: Links to the impressive bio of Susan Rice, to the Politico.com piece on her meeting with Sen. Collins, and to the text of her letter to the President.
Also an interesting Mullfoto from out my office window yesterday afternoon.
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