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GOP -- and Obama -- should stop torturing Susan Rice

November 28, 2012|By Michael McGough
  • Ambassador to the United Nations Susan Rice walks out of a meeting with Sen. Bob Corker (R-Tenn.) on Wednesday.
Ambassador to the United Nations Susan Rice walks out of a meeting with Sen.… (Michael Reynolds / EPA )

I’m not sure what’s more peculiar about the Susan Rice story: Senate Republicans’ obsession with Rice’s televised comments about the genesis of the Benghazi, Libya, attack, or Rice’s confession tour of Capitol Hill. If President Obama wants her as his secretary of State, he should make the announcement and then have her make courtesy calls on Sens. Lindsey Graham, John McCain et al.

Rice has received a bum rap for recycling talking points about the attack that were drawn up -- and, now it seems, edited -- by the CIA. Moreover, her comments in one interview about the “decimation” of Al Qaeda aren’t inconsistent with Al Qaeda being behind the Benghazi attack (though defining whether a group is an Al Qaeda “affiliate” is not a simple matter). And, by the way, “decimated” doesn’t mean “destroyed.”

It’s hard to shake the idea that Rice is paying for Mitt Romney’s failure to capitalize on Benghazi during the campaign. Remove that from the equation and you’re left with an “indictment” of Rice that consists of the fact that she didn’t try to ferret out information not contained in her talking points in order to make her boss look bad. For that one lapse, we should disqualify her from serving as secretary of State?

But isn’t Obama also torturing Rice? If he wants her as his secretary of State, he should make the announcement already. Even if Rice’s pilgrimage to the Hill was her own idea, it creates the impression that she’s engaged in an audition not just for senators but also for the White House.

My colleague Paul Richter reminds us that politics are eclipsing policy in the Republican pile-on. In a story about Rice and the Republicans, he wrote:  “A number of Republican members have now held out [Sen. John]  Kerry as a better choice for secretary, though Rice’s views on foreign military interventions are more aggressive than Kerry’s -- and thus closer to the Republican position.”  

Never mind that! She said Obama had decimated Al Qaeda.

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