Why Do Republicans Keep Picking on Susan Rice?

4 years ago

I have watched with bewilderment as Republicans ratchet up their attacks on United Nations Ambassador Susan Rice.

To be sure, Congress should investigate what happened in Benghazi. After all, four Americans were killed, including Ambassador Christopher Stevens who reportedly had expressed concern about the “security vacuum” around the consulate.

But a cursory review of the State Department’s organizational chart shows that embassy and consulate security is not included in Rice’s portfolio.

NEW YORK, Feb. 4, 2012 The U.S. permanent representative to the United Nations, Susan Rice speaks after the voting on the draft resolution on Syria during a UN Security Council meeting at the United Nations in New York. (Credit Image: © Shen Hong/Xinhua/ZUMAPRESS.com)

Why haven’t Republicans hauled Secretary of State Hillary Clinton or Under Secretary for Management Patrick F. Kennedy before Congress? If Sen. Lindsey Graham wants answers, why not ask the person directly responsible for “ensuring that the United States can conduct diplomacy safely and securely around the world,” Assistant Secretary of State for Diplomatic Security Eric J. Boswell.

Rice is presumed to be President Obama’s first choice to succeed Clinton. During her meetings with Graham, Sen. John McCain, and other Republican senators, she acknowledged that the statements she made five days after Benghazi were incorrect. But that wasn’t good enough for Graham and McCain who have vowed to do everything in their power to block her from being the U.S. secretary of state.

What’s their problem? Rice effectively “revised and extended” her prepared remarks, a practice that Senators (and House members) arrogate to themselves. In fact eleven days after Benghazi, McCain and Graham voted for a resolution “condemning the violent attack on the United States consulate in Benghazi.” There was no mention of al-Qaeda, terrorists or extremists. Instead, the Senate:

"condemns, in the strongest possible terms, the despicable attacks on American diplomats and public servants in Benghazi and calls for the perpetrators of such attacks to be brought to justice."

I joined a diverse group of women leaders and signed an open letter to the Senate condemning the baseless attacks on Rice’s character, intelligence and competence.
Let me be clear: Black women are rallying to Rice’s defense are not “basking in the (distant) glow of power.”Instead, we’ve seen this play before in Republican attacks on Alexis HermanLani Guinier and Joycelyn Elders.
Melanie L. Campbell, president & CEO of the National Coalition on Black Civic Participation and convener of the Black Women’s Roundtable, observed:

"It is important for all women to weigh in on the unnecessary attack on Ambassador Rice. It’s not just about her; it’s about all of us who embrace the new America. We cannot sit back and allow those who long for the days when white male privilege persisted in America to ruin the Ambassador’s extraordinary reputation because of politics."

Campbell added:

"Ambassador Rice serves our country with great dignity and is a strong leader in foreign policy. It’s a new day in America and black, white, Caribbean, Asian and Latino women have come together to say: 'Not on our watch!'”

The shifting demographics led to the GOP shellacking in the 2012 election. In their search for relevance, Republicans want to show their shrinking base they can preemptively block an Obama nominee. Whether or not Rice is nominated, Republicans have further alienated minority voters. This in turn begs the question: What’s the matter with Republicans? When you’re in a hole, stop digging.
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