So on November 13th, President Obama, after winning re-election held his first news conference in 8 months. It wasn’t until the eleventh question asked that the attack on Benghazi came up. The question was not about the lack or denial of security requests, it wasn’t about the stand down order from the CIA to the two former Navy SEALS who ultimately lost their lives while protecting the consulate and the annex, it wasn’t about the fact that the White House had real-time intelligence that the attack was pre-planned and perpetrated by Al Qaeda, nor was it about the ignored calls for help from those on the ground who never received that help. No, instead of all those questions that all of us seem to want the answers to, the question to the President was about the attacks on….wait for it…..Ambassador Susan Rice and the possible nomination of her for the Secretary of State position. What came next was nothing short of a stunning exposition of playground tactics and a strange revelation. First, here is the question from Jonathan Karl (video of the comments here):
“Thank you, Mr. President. Senator John McCain and Senator Lindsey Graham both said today that they want to have Watergate-style hearings on the attack on the U.S. consulate in Benghazi and said that if you nominate Susan Rice to be secretary of state, they will do everything in their power to block her nomination. As Senator Graham said, he simply doesn’t trust Ambassador Rice after what she said about Benghazi. I’d like your reaction to that. And would those threats deter you from making a nomination like that?”
Now, here is the Presidents response:
“Well, first of all, I’m not going to comment at this point on various nominations that I’ll put forward to fill out my Cabinet for the second term. Those are things that are still being discussed.
But let me say specifically about Susan Rice, she has done exemplary work. She has represented the United States and our interests in the United Nations with skill and professionalism and toughness and grace. As I’ve said before, she made an appearance at the request of the White House in which she gave her best understanding of the intelligence that had been provided to her. If Senator McCain and Senator Graham and others want to go after somebody, they should go after me. And I’m happy to have that discussion with them. But for them to go after the U.N. ambassador, who had nothing to do with Benghazi and was simply making a presentation based on intelligence that she had received and to besmirch her reputation is outrageous.”
President Obama’s defense of Ambassador Rice, was commendable, however he truly did her a disservice. He acted like a playground defender of a victim of bullies when stating that Senators McCain and Graham should go after him instead of her. Then basically labeled Susan Rice as a small player in the scheme of things by stating she “gave her best” understanding of the intelligence that had been provided her, and was simply making a “Presentation” but “had nothing to do with Benghazi“.
This statement by the President immediately opened up questions about Susan Rice’s role and why she went on the Talk shows on September 16th to begin with. I mean seriously, why put her out there if she had nothing to do with Benghazi, and if she had nothing to do with it, then she wouldn’t have any information of consequence. However, there was a CONSEQUENCE and a big one . She, the US Ambassador to the UN, representing the US and the administration went on 5 Sunday Morning Talk Show’s purposefully armed with a narrative that was a total and disgraceful lie. She set the wheels into motion that began the cover up of the events of the Terrorist attack that killed our Ambassador and three other Americans.
These were her words to Jake Tapper with ABC:
“Our current best assessment, based on the information that we have at present, is that, in fact, what this began as, it was a spontaneous — not a premeditated — response to what had transpired in Cairo. In Cairo, as you know, a few hours earlier, there was a violent protest that was undertaken in reaction to this very offensive video that was disseminated.”
These statements were repeated four times more throughout the day without much variation. The narrative did not waver. It was a spontaneous reaction to a You tube video that spawned the outrage. Moving on…nothing to see here.
After the press conference with President Obama, a slew of defenders came out of the wood work. MSNBC’s Chris Matthew’s while having a conversation on the subject with Rep. James Clyburn (SC) all but said Susan Rice is just a young naive girl not ready to play with the big boys of politics by this statement:
“Well, let`s talk about motive here because, you know, it does seem when a person makes — even if you think a person made a mistake, they were given the wrong brief and they offered up the brief — they don`t think she — they haven`t said she made it up.
I mean, why is there this hostility to this young public servant, who isn`t really much of a — isn`t a politician even? She serves in the foreign affairs capacity. She`s not in the arena with you guys. Why are they treating her like she`s somebody to punch?”
Rep. Clyburn, went further with the opining by revisiting her history and roots from South Carolina, speaking of his close friendship Rice’s father, and then it went to this:
“This is a young African-American woman, I`m going to say…And this is the kind of stuff that happened to Colin Powell. Colin Powell was given information. He went to the United Nations with information that we found out later was flawed. It was not his fault then…”
So here comes the eluding to Racism in the questioning of her competency . However, the super hero’s for Susan Rice didn’t stop there…to continue along the path that Rep. Clyburn created, fast forward to Rep. Marcia Fudge, D-Ohio, who happens to be the next chairwoman of the Congressional Black Caucus, told reporters on Friday that “It is a shame that anytime something goes wrong, they pick on women and minorities.”
Rep. Gwen Moore, D-WI, sealed the deal by saying,“To batter this woman because they don’t feel they have the ability to batter President Obama is something we the women are not going to stand by and watch.”
So now you have a new narrative. Sorry Senator’s McCain and Graham, but your questioning of Ambassador Rices “presentation” on the Sunday shows, will officially be turned over to the race defenders, and sister soldiers. They have it covered across the board…you guys are picking on the YOUNG, INEXPERIENCED AFRICAN AMERICAN FEMALE.
However, I hate to burst the bubble some are trying to place Ambassador Rice into, but maybe they should take a look at this “young African-American woman” and realize…She knew exactly what she was doing on those shows.
First, stop with the “young public servant” stuff. She is two years older than President Obama was when he was elected President. She’s been in this Government Game of thrones since at least 1988 when she was a foreign policy aide to Michael Dukakis during his presidential election run. So she also has more experience in Foreign affairs then our President.
Second, Rice served in the Clinton administration in various capacities: at the National Security Council from 1993 to 1997; as Director for International Organizations and Peacekeeping from 1993 to 1995; and as Special Assistant to the President and Senior Director for African Affairs from 1995 to 1997. Madeline Albright, recommended Rice for the post of assistant secretary for African affairs in 1997. After her appointment, senior politicians came out in disagreement with having a young woman in such a post and disagreed with placing her in the position; citing she may not be able to hang or deal with the older, more seasoned big boys. This is what Rice had to say about that:
“They have no choice but to deal with me on professional terms. I represent the United States of America,” she says. “Yeah, they may do a double take, but then they have to listen to what you say, how you say it and what you do about what you say.”
When Rice was Director for International Organizations and Peacekeeping she was faced with what she called a “Most searing experience“. Rice came face to face with the Rwanda Genocide and commented:
“It was the most horrible thing I’ve ever seen. It makes you mad. It makes you determined. It makes you know that even if you’re the last lone voice and you believe you’re right, it is worth every bit of energy you can throw into it.”
It was these experiences that ultimately led her to her post as Assistant Secretary for African affairs. This was also where she became very educated and informed with the actions of the extremist group, Al Qaeda; she was the top diplomat for African issues during the 1998 terrorist bombings of our US embassies in Tanzania and Kenya.
Susan Rice is also not inexperienced in the dealings of controversy. The former ambassador to Sudan Timothy Carney flat-out accused her of bungling the chance to take out Osama bin Laden when Sudanese officials offered him to the USA during the Clinton years. However, the 9/11 commission said there was no credible evidence of this. It did not stop Carney and Monzoor Ijaz, a news contributor, implicating her and then Counter Terrorism Czar, Richard Clark in a 2002 Washington Post Op-Ed piece regarding the missed opportunity of getting Bin Laden.
So, we now know she has the feminine proverbial “cohones” to deal with the big boys, she has more knowledge of Foreign affairs than our President, (which I find amusing) and has more than enough experience dealing with the workings and tactics of Al Qaeda. So much for Chris Matthews theory of “not being in the arena“.
These failed attempts by the mainstream media, and congress men and women alike, only prove a flawed attempt to disqualify Ambassador Rice as a formidable opponent. Yes, she is young, relatively speaking so are many in the Obama administration, but do not attempt to insult the intelligence of the American people by claiming she is just a bit player in the administration. She knows this game and seems to be more than willing to play. She also had a keen idea of what it would mean to the Obama Administration having the words ‘IT WAS AL QAEDA WHO KILLED OUR AMBASSADOR’, come from her lips before the election. This, from an administration who so artfully spiked the Bin Laden football and said that “Al Qaeda was defeated.”
I will refer back to the Rwandan Genocides from 1994 when Rice reportedly said, “If we use the word ‘genocide’ and are seen as doing nothing, what will be the effect on the November [congressional] election?” Now, regarding the heat Ambassador Rice is now feeling from Senators McCain and Graham, I will leave you with another reflection from the Ambassador which I personally feel is quite appropriate at this time. In regards to the inability of the Clinton administration to do anything to prevent or stop the Rwandan genocide, Susan Rice would later say:
“I swore to myself that if I ever faced such a crisis again, I would come down on the side of dramatic action, going down in flames if that was required.”
Well Ambassador Rice….the flame is on, the water is about to boil over.