President Obama is receiving flack today for defending his decision to possibly nominate U.N. Ambassador Susan Rice for Secretary of State. Rice has been criticized, most notably by John McCain and Lindsay Graham, for her handling of the immediate aftermath of the deadly Sept. 11 Libya. They are saying her labeling of the attack as a spontaneous outburst of violence rather than a planned terrorist strike makes her an unqualified nominee. At his latest press conference, Obama rushed to Rice’s defense and Fox New’s Kirsten Powers called his defense of Rice “silly” and “sexist.” Obama was just defending his employee against some tough bullying, but I don’t think this woman, who has a history of making controversy, should be Secretary of State.
“If Senator McCain and Senator Graham and others want to go after somebody, they should go after me,” Obama said Wednesday at his East Room news conference.
In her column for Fox, Powers wrote, “Imagine George Bush saying that people criticized John Bolton because he was an ‘easy target.’ He wouldn’t,” Powers wrote. “It’s absurd and chauvinistic for Obama to talk about the woman he thinks should be secretary of state of the United States as if she needs the big strong man to come to her defense because a couple of Senators are criticizing her.”
On Wednesday on Megyn Kelly’s America Live Powers noted that Obama left out mentioning New Hampshire Republican Sen. Kelly Ayotte as one of Rice’s detractors so that it he could portray the situation as “two men beating up on a woman.”
First of all, saying “go after me” is hardly being sexist. She does happen to be a woman but he is nominating this woman for Secretary of State! He clearly thinks she is capable and is defending his decision to put her in this important decision. He did call her an “easy target” but as the face of this problem, she is the easy target. She is also a target, as many of her fellow female minority colleagues have pointed out, because she is easier to go after than Obama.
“It is a shame that anytime something goes wrong, they pick on women and minorities,” Rep. Marcia Fudge, D-Ohio, the next chairwoman of the Congressional Black Caucus, told reporters Friday at a Capitol Hill news conference.
“To batter this woman because they don’t feel they have the ability to batter President Obama is something we the women are not going to stand by and watch,” said Rep. Gwen Moore, D-Wis. “Their feckless and reckless speculation is unworthy of their offices as senators.”
When Rice was an assistant secretary of state during the Clinton administration, she appalled colleagues by flipping her middle finger at Richard Holbrooke during a meeting with senior staff at the State Department, according to witnesses. Her colleagues reported shouting matches. She also criticized her possible predecessor when she chose to support Obama in 2008 and then criticized Clinton’s Iraq and Iran positions. She also was very hard on McCain for his trip to Iraq and his policies. From Dana Milbank of The Washington Post:
“It was Rice’s own shoot-first tendency that caused her to be benched as a spokesman for the Obama campaign for a time in 2008. She unnerved European allies when she denounced as “counterproductive” and “self-defeating” the U.N. policy that Iran suspend its nuclear program before talks can begin. She criticized President George W. Bush and McCain because they “insisted” on it. But, as The Post’s Glenn Kessler pointed out at the time, European diplomats were rattled by such remarks because the precondition was their idea.”
With the Libya incident, Rice was doing as she was told and sticking to her talking points even though the president of the Libyan National Assembly said there was “no doubt” that the attack on Americans in Benghazi “was preplanned” right before Rice spoke. The one time she needed to speak up and argue she didn’t. She was following the orders of The White House and sticking to the plan but she turned out to be quite wrong. I do not think she is the right person for the job or Obama should prepare to be criticized by his own Secretary of State.