On Sept. 16, when Secretary of State Hillary Clinton was unavailable after a grueling week, the White House asked me to appear on five Sunday talk shows to discuss a range of foreign policy issues: the protests against our diplomatic facilities around the world; the attack in Benghazi, Libya; and Iran’s nuclear program.She gave four specific points in her decision-making process. These two are most interesting, in my opinion:
Second, I deeply respect Congress’s role in our system of government. After the despicable terrorist attacks that took the lives of four colleagues in Benghazi, our government must work through serious questions and bring the perpetrators to justice. We must strengthen security at our diplomatic posts and improve our intelligence in a volatile Middle East. Accomplishing these goals is far more important than political fights or personal attacks. Third, the American people expect us to come together to keep our nation safe. U.S. leadership abroad is and always has been strengthened when we transcend partisan differences on matters of national security. America is seriously weakened when politics come first. If any good can come out of the experience of the past few months, I hope that it will be a renewed focus on the business of the American people — and a renewed insistence that the process of selecting potential candidates for high national security office be treated in the best bipartisan traditions of our country.While it is preferable to keep petty partisan politics to a minimum during nomination disputes, it is quite another thing to blame this battle on standard politics. This battle was all about the fact that Team Obama was determined to present Barack Obama as the guy who banished al-Qaeda and that narrative was to be a key point in the president's re-election campaign. You all remember the talking point of "General Motors is alive and bin Laden is dead", don't you? Rice was sent out to be the patsy to take the heat for Obama, and, more specifically, Hillary Clinton on those Sunday talk shows. At the time, those of us political junkies who suffer through these shows were questioning Rice's appearances as a surrogate. Obama was right. Rice didn't have anything to do with Benghazi. It should have been Clinton on those shows answering questions.
You may recall this bit of theater uttered by President Obama as he stepped forward to stick up for the little lady:
"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."
Instead of admitting that it was himself and his White House that threw Rice to the wolves in the press that fateful Sunday morning with disingenuous talking points, he sounds as though he is asking Senators McCain and Graham to step outside and settle the dispute using fisticuffs. Well, no one ever mistook Barack Obama for a statesman.
It is becoming clear why Rice has decided to throw herself on her own sword now. It is not only those mean Republicans promising some tough questions about her nomination during the hearing process - it is also clear that Democrats are questioning her placement as Secretary of State. Not only is Rice's decision-making process under scrutiny from Republicans in the senate. Her previous service in the Clinton administration leaves much to be desired. Her performance during the Rwanda genocide years, for example, leap to the forefront.
It is the job for the U.S. Senate to question the nominees brought forward by the president. Republicans are being blamed for this mess due to charges of racism and misogyny. That might be more effective if the last Republican administration had not produced the first black woman Secretary of State, as well as the first black male Secretary of State. Oops. Was Senator Barbara Boxer, for example, called a racist or misogynist for loudly opposing Condoleezza Rice's nomination?
We remember, as well, the utter politicization of John Bolton's expected nomination to the U.N. ambassadorship, too. Just move along, nothing to see here.
Here's the reality: Hillary Clinton wants Senator John Kerry to be the next Secretary of State. Susan Rice fell out of favor with Hillary Clinton when she chose to be an early supporter of Barack Obama's in the 2008 Democratic party's presidential primary. Clinton felt betrayed by Rice's lack of loyalty, as she had been a member of the Clinton administration. That race for the nomination was ugly. Hillary felt entitled to the job. Her consolation prize was to be named Secretary of State in the first term of the Obama administration. The criticisms coming for the Democrats on the potential Rice nomination, as well as the stinging opinion pieces by nationally read liberal columnists, are from Clinton (Bill and Hillary) loyalists.
By stepping aside, Susan Rice chose to avert the Libyan terrorist attacks from additional front page headlines. Republicans rightfully demanded she take responsibility for her choice of being this administration's patsy. Democrats focused on her personal traits, as well as her previous performance within the State Department. She was in a no-win situation. Her proclamations of rising above politics in the process are meaningless.