BY THE TIME Susan Rice withdrew her name from the running for secretary of state earlier this month, she had emerged in the media as one of Washington’s most nefarious personalities. After Republican Senators John McCain and Lindsey Graham denounced the American ambassador to the United Nations for “misleading” the American people over the September 11 attack on the consulate in Benghazi, Libya, she was accused of, among other things, having a “personality ‘disorder,’” of harboring a “breathless” confidence in African strongmen, of being a “headmistress,” of having “sharp elbows,” of having a voice “always right on the edge of a screech,” of being an interventionist, of not intervening when it mattered.
“Was she also responsible for the drop in temperature between Tuesday and today?” snapped Gayle Smith, a senior director on the National Security Council (NSC). Smith belongs to an army of Rice loyalists who sprang to her defense, in lieu of a nominee’s war room. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton privately made supportive sojourns to Capitol Hill; Special Assistant to the President Samantha Power became such a fervent advocate that New York Times columnist Nicholas Kristof asked a mutual friend to tell her to tone it down. “It’s having the opposite effect,” he reportedly complained. (Kristof denies he gave Power “private advice on how to do her job.”) Although President Barack Obama initially defended Rice, by the time she decided to withdraw, he did not attempt to change her mind. “I’m not saying it was a nudge,” says one Rice ally. “I’m also not saying anyone begged her to stay.”
Still, there’s no reason to think that Rice’s career is over. Administration sources are not ruling out the possibility that she could be tapped to serve as national security advisor, a post that does not require Senate confirmation. And regardless of her title, Rice will remain one of Obama’s most trusted advisers. She was instrumental in the formation of his foreign policy before he came to the White House—an experience she describes as “a meeting of the minds”—and her family and his are now friends.
In her quick ascent through the foreign policy establishment—Rhodes scholar, Oxford Ph.D., one of the youngest assistant secretaries of state at age 33, veteran of many a Democratic presidential campaign—Rice has a public persona that is somehow both forceful and elusive. The many critiques leveled at her tend to distill into a contradictory assessment—that she is too political and not political enough.
Wingnuts tend to go wingnuttier whenever they come across a highly competent woman. This is also a good refresher in case Hillary does run in 2016, since conservative bloggers will be resurfacing all of this garbage soon in an attempt to salt the earth before Hillary runs again.
U.S. Ambassador to the U.N. Susan Rice has withdrawn her name from consideration for nomination to be Secretary of State. “If nominated, I am now convinced that the confirmation process would be lengthy, disruptive and costly,” she said in a letter formally taking herself out of consideration.
And with that admission, the woman who would succeed Hillary Clinton as Secretary of State has revealed she’s gotten just a small taste of what it actually has been like to be Hillary Clinton over the years.
Rice, like Clinton before her, has been attacked relentlessly by the GOP for what she’s said, for her temperament, and over her financial ties; she’s been attacked by left and right alike for her foreign policy views (the criticism of Rice’s ties to African despots has been nothing compared to the intra-party criticism Clinton got for backing the authorization of military use force in Iraq, launching Bush’s war there); and she’s been denied an upsurge of support from her party just when she positioned herself or her ideas as most inevitable (from Hillarycare to the 2008 presidential contest, Clinton’s never been so vulnerable as when she’s been inevitable). Like Clinton, Rice also has been subjected to a steady stream of rough questioning in the MSM and excoriated on Fox. But unlike Clinton, Rice has experienced all of this only on a small scale and for a only few months.
Hillary Clinton went through 15 years of this stuff before becoming, under Obama, the woman everyone loves, a woman whom Chris Cillizza just dubbed “the new Teflon Clinton.” It was only a few years ago she was “likable enough,” according to Obama — a woman whose “vocal range” revealed her to be “the stereotypical bitch,” as Glenn Beck put it.
So Susan Rice once gave Richard Holbrooke the finger. She certainly wasn’t the only person to jab a finger in his direction on account of his “outsize” personality, according to James Mann’s The Obamians. Meanwhile, Clinton was accused of murdering Vince Foster! Even now that’s a charge even being repeated on right-wing blogs, thanks to a new book out at the end of November on the former Clinton lawyer.
Embattled U.N. envoy Susan Rice is dropping out of the running to be the next secretary of state after months of criticism over her Benghazi comments, she told NBC News on Thursday.
‘If nominated, I am now convinced that the confirmation process would be lengthy, disruptive and costly – to you and to our most pressing national and international priorities,’ Rice wrote in a letter to President Obama, saying she’s saddened by the partisan politics surrounding her prospects.
‘That trade-off is simply not worth it to our country…Therefore, I respectfully request that you no longer consider my candidacy at this time,’ she wrote in the letter obtained by NBC News.
More here: rockcenter.nbcnews.com
The very quality that helped get Susan Rice in hot water with some in Washington is what pro-Israel groups have come to appreciate — she is a vigorous and reliable defender of the Obama administration’s foreign policies.
Rice, the U.S. ambassador to the United Nations who is widely seen as a leading candidate to replace Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton, has garnered plaudits from Jewish communal leaders over her defenses of Israel at the world body.
“She has proven herself as an ardent defender of major Israeli positions in an unfriendly forum,” said Abraham Foxman, the Anti-Defamation League’s national director. “And I’m more comfortable with the person I know than the person I don’t know. She is close to the president and that’s important in that position if you have someone you can relate to and understands us.”
If Obama nominates Rice, however, she would likely face opposition from Senate Republicans.
She has been under fire from Republicans since September, when she blitzed Sunday talk shows with what turned out to be misleading information prepared by intelligence agencies suggesting that a deadly attack on a U.S. diplomatic outpost in Libya began with a spontaneous protest. Media reports have suggested that Rice had been eager to go on the talk show circuit to defend the administration, which was facing strong criticism from Republicans over its handling of the attack and its public explanations of what happened.
On November 14, President Obama vigorously defended U.N. ambassador Susan Rice during a press conference in the White House’s Rose Garden, perhaps signaling that he was unworried by the possibility of a drawn-out battle with Republicans looking to block Rice’s possible nomination as secretary of state. Rice, who has been criticized for her promoting a now-disproven explanation for the deadly attack on an American diplomatic facility in Benghazi, Libya, apparently has the full support of the president that could nominate her for the highest diplomatic position in the land.
Things are not quite as amicable at U.N. headquarters. As the conflict in the Eastern DRC escalated, and as two U.N. reports provided extensive evidence of official Rwandan and Ugandan support for the M23 rebel group, Rice’s delegation blocked any mention of the conflict’s most important state actors in a Security Council statement. And in June, the U.S. attempted to delay the release of a UN Group of Experts report alleging ties between Rwanda and M23.
Peter Rosenblum, a respected human rights lawyer and professor at Columbia Law School, says that the U.S.’s reticence in singling out state actors is significant, especially at the U.N. “It shows [Rice] is willing to expend political capital to cast something of a shield over Rwanda and Uganda,” he says. “These are the things that in diplomatic settings, they are remarked upon. People see that the U.S. is still there defending the leaders of these countries at a time when many of their other closest allies have just grown sort of increasingly weary and dismayed.”
Sarah Margon of Human Rights Watch agrees that the U.S. should be more active in naming potential obstacles in resolving the eastern DRC conflict. “It’s unacceptable for Rwanda to be violating UN Security Council resolutions and meddling in international peace and security,” she says. “I think the U.S. government has a very powerful voice and they need to use it.”
For some, Rice embodies a period in American policy in which U.S. influence was not put to particularly effective use in Africa. Rice served as Assistant Secretary of State for African Affairs during Bill Clinton’s second term as president. As Rosenblum explained in a 2002 article in Current History [$], the second Clinton administration began with a full-fledged pivot to Africa, with Madeline Albright undertaking a high-profile visit to the continent early in her tenure as secretary of state. It was a substantive trip — Albright gathered some of Africa’s most dynamic newly-installed heads of state in Entebbe and Addis Ababa, where she articulated America’s intention to change its relationship with the continent.
This might seem like a big issue, but if chosen then Susan Rice could just divest the Keystone holdings. The other thing: we really don’t have many other viable options right now options besides the XL line since the competition for all energy resource is heating up along with our climate. In a perfect world we would use clean, carbon free sources, but we can’t realistically do that at present without harming a lot of people here and now.
Embarking on a second term, President Barack Obama faces mounting pressure on a decision he had put off during his re-election campaign: whether to approve the $7 billion proposed Keystone XL oil pipeline between the U.S. and Canada.
On its surface, it’s a choice between the promise of jobs and economic growth and environmental concerns. But it’s also become a proxy for a much broader fight over American energy consumption and climate change, amplified by Superstorm Sandy and the conclusion of an election that was all about the economy.
Environmental activists and oil producers alike are looking to Obama’s decision as a harbinger of what he’ll do on climate and energy in the next four years. Both sides are holding out hope that, freed from the political constraints of re-election, the president will side with them on this and countless related issues down the road.
“The broader climate movement is absolutely looking at this administration’s Keystone XL decision as a really significant decision to signal that dirty fuels are not acceptable in the U.S.,” said Danielle Droitsch, a senior attorney with the Natural Resources Defense Council.
It was Tuesday morning in Phnom Penh when Barack Obama decided to dispatch Hillary Clinton to the Middle East to try to help defuse the mounting conflict in Gaza. Clinton had been traveling at Obama’s side on his swing through Thailand, Burma, and Cambodia—but now duty called, and she was off to Jerusalem, Ramallah, and Cairo. So peripatetic has Clinton been as secretary of State that it seemed perversely fitting that what was billed as her final foreign trip with her boss would be cut short this way. And while news of cease-fire talks in Gaza came hours before she touched down in the region, the sequence of events was a vivid reminder of the stature that Clinton has gained in the job: For the past four years, she has been Obama’s go-to gal in any global crisis.
Clinton’s impending departure, in other words, presents the president with a massive pair of pumps to fill—and a domestic political skirmish far less bloody than, but nearly as bloody-minded as, the one in the Mideast. At the center of this conflagration is U.N. Ambassador Susan Rice, one of the prime candidates to replace Clinton, and a series of Sunday-show appearances she made after the attack on the American consulate in Benghazi, in which she declined to call it a terrorist incident but instead deemed it a “spontaneous” protest that had been “hijacked” by “clusters of extremists.” For this, Rice is being flayed by John McCain, who has called her “not … very bright” and “not qualified” to be secretary of State, and pledged to do “everything in my power” to block her from the post, as well as being denounced by 97 House Republicans, who in a letter to Obama declared that Rice’s “misleading statements” about Benghazi “caused irreparable damage to her credibility both at home and around the world.”
Beyond the spectacle of gratuitous spleen-venting, does any of this Republican fulmination matter in the least—or, as the headline of a recent Maureen Dowd column in the Times put it, “Is Rice Cooked?” As a rule, your columnist avoids predictions, but in the spirit of holiday indulgence, I will make an exception here: Not only will Obama appoint Rice to succeed Clinton but she will be confirmed. And though I offer this forecast without the aid of polling averages to lend a patina of statistical certainty to the endeavor, I do believe there are at least five sound reasons to think it will come true: