Secretary of State Hillary Clinton returned to work on Monday, a little over a week after being hospitalized with a blood clot in her head, and mere weeks before she is replaced by Massachusetts senator John Kerry. The State Department released a schedule for Clinton, which has her beginning the week with office meetings. On Thursday and Friday, she is scheduled to meet with visiting Afghan President Hamid Karzai. Clinton had been on medical leave after suffering a concussion in early December. She was later admitted to a New York hospital after doctors discovered a blood clot behind one of her ears. (Associate Press)
President Barack Obama is leaning toward choosing Sen. John Kerry of Massachusetts to replace Hillary Clinton as secretary of state, White House official and friends of the senator told The New York Times. The announcement, expected sometime this week, will likely be delayed because of the focus on the Connecticut school shooting. There is also reportedly some discomfort in Washington with the idea that Obama will have a national security team in which white men hold all tops posts. The U.S ambassador to the United Nations, Susan Rice, last week took her name out of the running for the spot, citing opposition to her nomination from several prominent Republicans in the Senate. Kerry, the 69-year-old former Democratic presidential nominee, has wanted the post for some time and is said to have support for his confirmation on both sides of aisle in the Senate. (NY Times)
Susan Rice, the U.S. ambassador to the United Nations, has taken herself out of the running for Secretary of State in the second Obama term, NBC News is reporting. On Thursday, Rice wrote a letter to President Barack Obama asking that he no longer consider her as Hillary Clinton’s replacement. “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 said in her letter. “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.” (To read the full letter, click here.)
The White House released a statement on Thursday afternoon, indicating the president accepts Rice’s decision:
Today, I spoke to Ambassador Susan Rice, and accepted her decision to remove her name from consideration for Secretary of State. For two decades, Susan has proven to be an extraordinarily capable, patriotic, and passionate public servant. As my Ambassador to the United Nations, she plays an indispensable role in advancing America’s interests... I have every confidence that Susan has limitless capability to serve our country now and in the years to come, and know that I will continue to rely on her as an advisor and friend. While I deeply regret the unfair and misleading attacks on Susan Rice in recent weeks, her decision demonstrates the strength of her character, and an admirable commitment to rise above the politics of the moment to put our national interests first. The American people can be proud to have a public servant of her caliber and character representing our country.
Rice had been at the center of a controversy over her possible nomination to head the State Department. Republican senators John McCain of Arizona and Lindsey Graham of South Carolina were her most vocal critics on Capitol Hill, over her statements following the deadly Sept. 11 terrorist attacks on a U.S. consulate in Benghazi, Libya. Both senators vowed to block her nomination in the Senate, if Obama ever put her forward.
U.N. Amb. Susan Rice is meeting with her biggest Republican critics, Senators John McCain of Arizona and Lindsey Graham of South Carolina, who bashed her dissemination of incomplete intelligence after the deadly terrorist attacks on the U.S. consulate in Benghazi, Libya. Rice’s Tuesday meetings with McCain, arguably her most vocal critic, could be her final pitch for support in her likely nomination to replace Secretary of State Hillary Clinton. On Tuesday morning, McCain told CNN he was open to hearing Rice’s explanation, after just weeks ago saying he would do everything in his power to block her nomination to head the State Department in the Senate. McCain said it was Rice who requested the meeting with him. (Associated Press)
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.
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.
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: