Throwing Rice: GOP Benghazi Beef Tasteless
Attack on Obama UN ambassador highlights rancor not shown an earlier Rice
The views expressed in this Op-Ed do not necessarily reflect those of Loop 21.
Two black women with the last name Rice walk into a bar… Okay, maybe that sounds like the beginnings of a really bad joke.
What’s not the least bit funny is the clear hypocrisy on the part of Republicans – still bitter and lying to themselves about the reasons President Barack Obama won reelection – in their criticism of United Nations Ambassador Susan Rice and her early and misleading intelligence on the deadly Sept. 11, 2012, terrorist attacks at a U.S. consulate in Benghazi, Libya.
The aggressive critiques of Rice, which Obama rightly rapped in a White House press conference last week, are the polar opposite of the gentle handling afforded former Bush administration Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice, who disseminated flawed intelligence related to the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, 2001, and which led the U.S. into 12 years of war in Iraq and Afghanistan and eventually cost more than 6,000 U.S. lives at last count.
Susan Rice and Condi Rice are without doubt distinguished African American women and honorable public servants. Both disseminated the flawed information authorized by their respective White House administrations. But it seems Republicans view these two women’s mistakes through different lenses -- one serves under a beloved and maligned Democratic president and the other served under a tolerated and disgraced Republican president. With Susan Rice seemingly poised to assume the other Rice's old job -- if Obama chooses to nominate her to replace the exiting Hillary Clinton -- Susan Rice will have joined the “I’m a black woman being used as a scapegoat by white men for doing my job” club.
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GOP standard bearers like U.S. senators John McCain (R-Ariz.) and Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) say they found Susan Rice’s behavior unbecoming of a potential secretary of state. They’ve alleged Susan Rice knowingly disseminated incomplete information on the attacks so as to cover up what they say was the Obama administration’s inept response to security concerns at its foreign diplomatic mission in Libya. That reasoning reeks of hypocrisy, given their party’s record on intelligence failures in the Bush administration. On Thursday, McCain said Susan Rice was “not being very bright,” in spreading the anti-Islam video story to the American public. The day before, McCain questioned Susan Rice’s integrity and vowed to block her confirmation to head the State Department in the Senate, a nomination that has yet to even have been put forward. Graham said he would do the same because he “can’t trust her.”
In short, they’re calling the UN ambassador a liar. There’s a major distinction worth pointing out, particularly between Susan Rice and Condi Rice, whom McCain once praised as “a great American success story,” even as liberals openly questioned her integrity.
No further harm or death came of Susan Rice’s account that the Libya attack “began spontaneously … as a reaction to what had transpired … in Cairo, where there was a violent protest … outside of our embassy, sparked by this hateful video,” as she now infamously explained on CBS’s "Face the Nation." But it’s rather hard to say the same regarding Condi Rice. The former State Department head is on record saying Iraq and its now deceased president, Saddam Hussein, had no weapons of mass destruction and did not pose a threat to America and its interests. But she went back on that assessment not long after Republicans began beating the Middle East war drums, after the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks. The Iraq and Afghanistan wars are the costliest and deadliest conflicts in American history. After she was made to face anti-war Senate Democrats and defend the administration’s intelligence failures – read “lies” -- in her own confirmation hearing to Secretary of State in 2005, Condi Rice seemed to benefit from being in the right and ruling political party in the executive branch.
[ALSO READ: Will GOP ‘Willie Lynch’ Blacks and Latinos?]
In a 2005 interview on CBS Morning News, McCain championed the former Bush national security advisor: “I thought that some of the remarks — and I’m not going to mention my [Democratic] colleagues’ names — some of the remarks aimed at her during the hearings challenged her integrity. We can disagree on policy and we disagree on a lot of things, but I think it is very clear that Condoleezza Rice is a person of integrity. And yes, I see this, as some lingering bitterness over a very tough campaign. I hope it dissipates soon.”
Caught that? “Bitterness over a very tough campaign” is precisely what’s staring President Obama and the Democrats in the face today, as they move forward on fiscal cliff budgetary negotiations. McCain and others’ hypocrisy on Susan Rice is staggering. But it’s evidence that there is no bipartisan kumbaya on the horizon in Obama’s second term.
In all fairness, Republicans are right to demand an investigation into whether State Department officials failed to adequately respond to reported requests for additional security for diplomats in Libya. But they seem to always trip on the one good leg they’ve got to stand on when, in ignorance of the past, Republicans open their mouths.
On NBC's Today Show, McCain tried to explain the difference in the treatment of the two Rices:
Well, Sen. McCain, that's a lie!