Susan Rice Withdraws Her Name from Consideration at State

(Credit: Justin Lane, EPA)[/caption]

Susan Rice withdraws her name from consideration at State. Just across the wire:

“I didn’t want to see a confirmation process that was very prolonged, very politicized, very distracting, and very disruptive because there are so many things we need to get done as a country and the first several months of a second term president’s agenda is really the opportunity to get crucial things done.”

In a town of pots calling kettles black, this one has to take the cake, because if there is one person who represents politicization it’s Susan Rice.

Whether it was her suggestions about how to properly politicize the 1994 Rwandan genocide while in the Clinton administration or the way the would-be top diplomat simply walked out on Senate Republicans, there were legitimate reasons why Rice should not have been considered for secretary of state and little of it had to do with her description of the September 11, 2012 attack in Benghazi, Libya.

Republican noisemakers can celebrate winning the second battle of Van Jones, but it is really nothing more than a partisan victory and it shows that despite all the talk about party soul-searching, the GOP is still essentially rudderless and fighting the last (manufactured) enemy. No doubt part of the crusade against Susan Rice is that after losing to a vulnerable incumbent, and staring down the barrel of the losing side of the fiscal cliff, Rice’s scalp is one of the only trophies the GOP can claim at the moment.

The case against Rice arose from her continued assertion that the Benghazi attack that killed US ambassador Chris Stevens and three others was a “spontaneous demonstration” about a campy anti-Islamic movie and going on no less than four Sunday morning talk shows to repeat it.

Rice stuck to this story for two weeks before the administration conceded that it appears Ambassador Stevens was in fact killed in a premeditated terrorist attack by Ansar al-Sharia, a militant Islamic group. Rice’s characterization of the attacks as a “spontaneous demonstration” and not an explicit terrorist attack was the basis of the Republican opposition.

But let’s just say Rice never said “spontaneous demonstration.” Let’s pretend she said it was a terrorist attack.

Oh, it was a terrorist attack! Now there wasn’t a bureaucratic failure in getting additional security to the ambassador! Now militias don’t run loose in a country with a non-functioning government because, along with Hillary Clinton and Samantha Power, Rice was a key player in convincing Obama to lend American airpower to depose Gaddafi!

I’m in favor of calling things what they are. No doubt what happened on September 11, 2012 should have been called a terrorist attack a little sooner than it was, but it’s a little rich for Republicans to assail anyone for sticking to bad intelligence for too long. Susan Rice should not have been considered for a position like secretary of state, but not because of her characterization of the attack, but for her role in facilitating the environment that led to the attack in the first place.

Rather than having a useful discussion about Libya and its consequences, Republicans demagogued the issue as further proof that Obama meant to “sympathize with those waging the attacks,” as Mitt Romney ignorantly claimed. Considering the Republican Party leadership supported the president’s Libyan actions, including the eventual nominee, and was therefore left with little room to credibly criticize the president, it should have been unsurprising that they had little choice but to offer a trite, tired, intellectually vacuous response.

Susan Rice was a deplorable choice to be the face of American diplomacy, but Republicans chose to focus on practically the most negligible reason to oppose her – and won. But it is not a sign of intellectual rigor for the party.