Republicans continue their war on women? Rice withdraws

Narrative #1:

The party that has lost the last two presidential elections and is clinging to power in the House and Supreme Court by narrowing margins has its foot pressed to the accelerator of irrelevance. Exhibit A: its continuing effort to drive the economy into a brick wall to protect tax breaks for billionaires. Exhibit B:

Ambassador Susan E. Rice Withdraws From Consideration for Secretary of State, White House Says

If the GOP’s 2014 campaign platform is that we don’t need more qualified, competent women in high office in this country, this is a reasonably effective way to kick it off.

Narrative #2:

Fill in your analysis of what is going on in the comments.


35 Comments . Leave a comment below.
  1. I'm not buying the narrative

    I’m a white male, so maybe I’m just as blind to the narrative as the GOP politicians spinning the tale, but I just don’t get from A to D on this one. Maybe swingy voters or 2014 donors or 2014 volunteers do, but I don’t…

  2. Handwriting on the wall

    She is withdrawing because Kerry will make a better SoS. I do not buy the GOP hates all women, the GOP hates minorities mantra…Sometimes Presidents don’t get to appoint their friends to the job they want and sometimes they do…this time the president will have to settle for a very qualified substitute. it’s politics, not beanbag.

    • Not all women...

      just the educated women who hold jobs and do not get married immediately after high school and do not home-school their offspring into thinking dinosaurs died because they did not get a ticket onto Noah’s Arc. They love ignorant a-holes like Michelle Bachmann.

    • She was the ambassador to the United Nations, for heaven's sake!

      The Senate’s job isn’t to dictate who should be Secretary of State to the President, but rather to confirm the choice of the President to Secretary of State.

      There was absolutely, positively no reason Rice shouldn’t have been able to be Secretary of State and she was eminently qualified, holding the second highest position you can in international relations from the US.

      The Republicans just wanted to 1) allow the opportunity for a potential pick-up in the US Senate and 2) deny the President his choice, using dog whistle terms like attacking her intelligence, etc.

      RyansTake   @   Thu 13 Dec 10:08 PM
  3. Obama caves

    Snatching defeat from the jaws of victory. One of the main Narratives of the past four years.

  4. Honestly

    I thought the GOP had a bit of a point on this one. Also, I think that the Sec State is one of the positions that requires a heavyweight, with the clout to buck the administration when necessary. Kerry would be that; Rice would not.

    • what point?

      Please clarify, because I’m failing to see it. They’ve blamed her for Bengazi when she basically had nothing to do with what was going on there, and there only attack has been she read the CIA’s cue cards… to protect national interests.

      Rice was the Ambassador to the United Nations. Feel free to explain how that doesn’t qualify her as a ‘heavyweight.’

      RyansTake   @   Thu 13 Dec 10:10 PM
      • Sure

        My issue was not that she parroted the CIA’s cue cards, though I don’t agree that the parroting was “to protect national interests” which strikes me as talk show spin.

        She was completely unconnected to the situation in Benghazi, and had no reason to know anything besides those talking points.

        My issue was that, even though she had no connection whatsoever to the situation in Benghazi, she was out on the talk show circuit reading those cue cards. And I don’t think she was doing it to protect “national interests.” I think she was doing it to protect the adminitsration’s interests during the campaign.

        That is not a role suitable for an ambassador or the secretary of state, in my view. State, like Justice, is an organization that suffers when its head does not seem to have the clout to challenge the administration, and the President himself, if necessary. Colin Powell’s failure to do this, even though he had the clout to do otherwise, was a huge failing, precisely because he had independent gravitas that could convince people pre-Iraq. His successor, Secretary Rice, never had that credibility. Clinton does, and has used it to tremendously beneficial effect.

        It has been a long last 15 years, and we still need a force of Clinton’s stature at the State Department. I don’t think Ambassador Rice was going to be a force in the mold of Clinton.

  5. There's more to this story.

    I’m not saying I know it, but there’s more to it than Republican asshattedness or Obama’s gag reflex when it comes to a fight.

    John McCain is a big enough idiot to conspiracize Benghazi, but I’m starting to think someone told him something about Susan Rice. There are,for example, a lot of rumors floating around about Rice being difficult to deal with. Aside from being a black woman (she’s well-educated and intelligent, but those are not necessarily scarce resources at that level of government), I don’t see what she brings to the position. Her race and gender are pluses for me, but hardly a guarantee of a great Secretary of State.

    There’s been some criticism on the Left about Rice supporting the Iraq War:

    In an NPR interview on Dec. 20, 2002, Rice joined the bellicose chorus, declaring: “It’s clear that Iraq poses a major threat. It’s clear that its weapons of mass destruction need to be dealt with forcefully, and that’s the path we’re on. I think the question becomes whether we can keep the diplomatic balls in the air and not drop any, even as we move forward, as we must, on the military side.”

    Rice also was wowed by Secretary of State Colin Powell’s deceptive speech to the United Nations on Feb. 5, 2003. The next day, again on NPR, Rice said, “I think he has proved that Iraq has these weapons and is hiding them, and I don’t think many informed people doubted that.”

    So what exactly would she have brought to State?

    • So, Republican Senators

      who sent this country to war in Iraq using Colin Powell’s speech as part of their justification, would suddenly have a problem that she was ‘wowed’ by the very same speech?

      And since when did anyone in DC care whether someone was “difficult to deal with?” Lots of Senators, Congressman and top level beurocrats are — I highly doubt there’s any “smoking gun” issue which would have made her ineligible for the position.

      This is all about the Republicans beating up on another minority woman, all so they can deny the President his choice and thus force a potential Republican pick-up opportunity in the United States Senate.

      They are exceeding their constitutional mandate.

      RyansTake   @   Thu 13 Dec 10:14 PM
  6. The GOP wants another Scott Brown campaign

    I join those who speculate that the GOP wants Senator Kerry in the cabinet so that Scott Brown can run again soon.

    I actually like the suggestion that the lege change the rules again and allow Governor Patrick to appoint a successor. If that was done before the new SoS and SoD nominees are announced, it finesses the Scott Brown play.

    If Mr. Brown wants to run, let him do so in 2014.

    • Speculate?

      Listen to any of the GOP Senators talking away on this issue — all of them have gone very far out of their way to play up Kerry, sometimes in the very same sentence that they’ve questioned Rice. They’ve made it abundantly clear that they’ll accept John Kerry in the position, and I doubt anyone else.

      It doesn’t take a genius to figure out why.

      RyansTake   @   Thu 13 Dec 10:16 PM
    • Marketing

      Dems on Beacon Hill could sell it as fixing its own error and a gift from legislators. Freedom from campaign ads!

  7. Seriously?

    I’ll admit I didn’t really hope to see Rice at State, so maybe I’m biased, but is a “War on Women” narrative really accurate? They didn’t like her as a candidate, and they made that known. Was the issue they focused on ridiculous? Yes. Were there more legitimate criticisms of Rice? Yes. But calling them sexist for criticizing her isn’t reasonable.

    Not so long ago, a black woman named Rice received the most votes against her confirmation as Secretary of State since 1825. Were the Democrats who cast those votes sexist?

    I think a bunch of things were going on. I think McCain is trying to stay relevant by making hay off of Benghazi. I think Republican Senators would prefer to have their friend Senator Kerry, to whom they would have some degree of access, in the job. The chance of a special election here probably doesn’t hurt either.

    (As an aside, I do think Republicans have a number of gender problems. But this isn’t one of them, and “war on women” is pretty inflammatory rhetoric even when talking about abortion, let alone something comparatively routine like this.)

    • "They didn't like her as a candidate."

      Throughout the history of the Senate, it’s been very rare for a Secretary of State choice to go unconfirmed by the Senate. The confirmation process is supposed to be a check, not work as the primary method of selection.

      The only job the Senate should be doing re: Rice is asking the question of whether or not she’s qualified to serve, and the clear answer is yes.

      Where the issue of gender and minority issues have come into play is the dog whistle, using many common dog whistle attacks.

      RyansTake   @   Thu 13 Dec 10:21 PM
      • Very true.

        I’m not sure, but I think she probably would have been nominated, it just would have been a tough fight, which does happen quite frequently with nominations. Less so historically for sure, but fighting nominations isn’t a new thing for this group of Republican Senators. Not usually cabinet level ones, but its not surprising.

        Qualified to serve is a pretty vague concept. I think she’s qualified, she’s a heavyweight foreign policy thinker who has served in a lot of key places in our FP process. But I also think she’s made a reasonable number of mistakes in the past. Ironically, she’s quite interventionist, you’d think McCain would have liked that. I’m not a fan of her Africa policy, and that’s where she has worked the most. I particularly have concern about her relationship with various less-than-savory African leaders. I don’t think those disqualify her, but they’re worthy of questions.

        I don’t watch TV, so maybe I’ve missed it. But while dog whistling is a problem, I really don’t think its fair to label GOP opposition to Rice as the result of sexism or racism. I strongly dislike assigning motives to political opponents, and I dislike even more when those motives are blatantly bad. Republicans aren’t some cartoonishly evil bunch. Questioning their motivations to me falls in line with declaring progressives secret Communist sympathizers. Its not a way forward to reasonable dialogue.

        • Re: your last paragraph,

          The opposition isn’t the problem that reveals the hints of racism or sexism, it’s the *lines of attack.*

          Many of them are clear parts of the dog whistle playbook. She was a Rhodes Scholar, and McCain is calling her dumb? And some of the people who have questioned her temperament have even more seeds of the dog whistle. I was waiting for one of the older dudes to call her uppity. I guess she withdrew too soon.

          RyansTake   @   Fri 14 Dec 9:42 PM
  8. I take her withdrawal at face value.

    I don’t buy the narrative I’m starting to hear that the President caved on this one. MSNBC is pretty much assuming it will be Kerry and I will reiterate that I am not afraid of any ensuing special election.

    • Quick thoughts

      Rice was a bad candidate from the get to, not just on Benghazi but on a host of issues. She is a lightweight having little experience as a policy maker (UN ambassadors have very little autonomy), and is a Bolton esque bomb thrower who would State insiders dislike. She and Holbrooke had a bad fight and she was instrumental in driving him from Afghanistan and Mideast peace negotiations where he might have been helpful. He reached out to her on his deathbed and she didn’t return his calls. She was cozy with some African dictators including those in Eithiopia and Eritrea. A liberal hawk favoring intervention first for a host of humanitarian reasons. Also her husband has significant Keystone and Halliburton investments. State insiders tell me that Hillary probably killed this. That’s no eb3 comment by the way I worked at high levels and have good contacts.

      • Indeed

        We, on the left, should feel good about her nomination being scuttled by the GOP; the Keystone Pipeline won’t have a possibly strong advocate in the highly influential office of SOS for its construction.

  9. Out of principal, the President shouldn't pick Kerry

    Obama’s near selection of Rice was eminently reasonable, taking on a person who’s qualifications are not in doubt.

    The Republicans in the Senate clearly wants Kerry, for the potential pick-up opportunity, and the President shouldn’t be in the business of capitulation.

    I hope he’ll find some other eminently qualified selection, who’s not afraid of the GOP attack dogs, and calls the Republicans in the Senate on this BS.

    Let the American people see this for what it is.

    RyansTake   @   Thu 13 Dec 10:24 PM
    • Please not Kerry

      I agree, just on principle. They have to learn they can’t always bully him into giving them their way.

    • Another Way

      Kerry could still be SOS, but they just wait until after midterms. Obama has had a remarkable stable first term cabinet. If he has 3 Secretaries in one department in three years I say. SO WHAT?

      • Truman had 3 SOS

        in just over two years, and 4 in 3 1/2 years (he had Stettinius as an FDR holdover for two months in 1945). And those were crucial years for foreign policy.

        We have seen what the GOP pulls in Congress. The Senate will have fewer faux Dems (Lieberman, Ben Nelson, etc.) than before the 2012 elections, but the Democratic majority is hardly huge. Losing this seat again may tip control of the body in 2014, another tough cycle for Dems. Then all hope for positive change during the Obama years is lost.

        We just sent Scott Brown out to pasture. A special election while he’s still fresh in voters’ minds is the PERFECT vehicle for his return to the Senate. And then, as we talked about before Warren knocked him off, we’re looking at the specter of Scott Brown in the Senate for another 18 or 24 years. From Massachusetts.

        I don’t care if John Kerry was born to be SOS. The stakes are just too high.

      • The question is

        who would be qualified for the job, get confirmed, but be willing to step down in 2 years? And if you have a qualified SOS, why change again?

        • Well...

          …Stepping down is not an option. Its not like the FBI where you get a term. The President can can you at anytime. I’m sure there is somebody out there. Who I don’t know. I agree with your concerns about the Senate, but that’s why you wait until after the midterms. Then we know what the Senate going into 2015 looks like, esp since the 2016 Senate elections are favorable to D’s.

          • That seems implausible

            I don’t think it would look good at all to terminate the SOS after the midterms simply because Obama really wants Kerry, just not (for electoral reasons) in Jan. ’13 when the job first came open. And I imagine anyone appointed now might want an assurance she/he is not just a placeholder for Kerry. If the person’s doing a good job, the person should stay.

  10. It absolutely should be Kerry.

    I prefered him to Rice anyway and they were always the top two even without GOP antics. Technically nominations are to be made by ADVICE and consent so if Senators are sending their own strong preference signals that’s not completely out of line, though the way they went about it stunk and the President would have been well within his own rights to fight for his choice.

    • Role he was born to play

      His dad was a distinguished foreign service officer and diplomat in his own right and Kerry’s strengths have always been on foreign policy and the environment. I can’t stand him personally and he infuriated me throughout his ill conceived run for the White House but with Clinton out the door and Biden at VEEP, he is our best foreign policy brain left in the Senate. Also he was an early Obama backer, has good friends across the aisle, and gave the speexh of his life this summer. Nobody can replace Hillary but he is a solid choice.

      What would be the bigger capitulation is assuming MA Dems can’t beat back Brown and picking te less qualified candidate to avoid a fight we should relish and win.

      • Obama better served with him in Senate too

        he is our best foreign policy brain left in the Senate

        This, to me, is another reason he should stay in the Senate. The chair of the Foreign Services Committee would pass, if he leaves, to Bob Menendez, who will be a pain in the butt. I don’t believe John Kerry is so head and shoulders above every other candidate that it’s worth it.

        And I don’t suggest Mass. Dems can’t beat Scott Brown again. It’s been discussed on BMG at length. I do suggest our chances of doing so would be at their absolute weakest in a special election only seven months after knocking him off. We thought of Warren’s win as big (8 points) but the fact is he got 46% in a Presidential year with huge Democratic turnout in all our cities.

        Turnout machine or not, we haven’t been able to replicate that in off years, and certainly not in special elections. Knock off half a million Warren voters who can’t be counted on to vote in a special, and Brown would have won 54%. We won’t be caught napping this time as in 2010, but it will be a tough battle.

        My other concern, voiced above, is that this sends precisely the wrong message to the GOP. 2012 elections be damned, they can gear up the smear machine and get the exact outcome they want for their own petty partisan reasons.

        • Disagree

          There was going to be a groundswell of opposition and not just from Republicans. You would have had Anthony Lake, old Holdbrooke allies (give Rice credit she brought Lake and Holbrooke together in animosity), Sandy Berger and other former State employees bashing her. Who knows how far the money trail would have gone on her husbands investments and her dealings with African dictators.

          I do not for one second believe this President, who was willing to fight for Rice, capitulated since he was worried about what The Benghazi troika thought. This line of attack backfired badly for Romney in the general and it obviously has no legs. The problem is the media feeds on controversy and fights and would have dug up a lot of dirt from Democrats and State Department officials that dislike her.

          Remember Bolton? Man should not have been nominated due to his ideological views, but what killed his nomination among moderate Republicans was the terrible relations he had with Colin Powell and Condi Rice. Similarly we would have had to hear about Rice poisoned the well with Eikenberry, Holbrooke, Lake, Berger, CFR Director Richard Haas and a host of others within the Democratic foreign policy establishment.

          • Fine

            As far as Rice bowing out goes. It seems there are numerous reasons why she’s less than ideal. But before and since she withdrew, the drumbeat, particularly from the GOP, has been for Kerry. That’s the part I object to.

            In truth I don’t care that much that Susan Rice will not nominated. I care a lot that the GOP would get its No. 1 political wish in this whole situation, a new special election in Massachusetts. I’m sure there is someone who’s not Susan Rice or John Kerry who’s qualified.

            • Quite frankly,

              just about any ambassador who oversees a major staff and has done an admirable job is qualified, and there should be a number to pick from who have strong contacts in many regions across the world.

              This would be a great opportunity for the President to make an outside the box choice, and no doubt there’s a few people he could choose from who the Republicans couldn’t make the case to block, maybe even someone who was appointed to a position by a Republican at some point.

              RyansTake   @   Fri 14 Dec 7:00 PM
  11. number two...

    Narrative #2:

    Fill in your analysis of what is going on in the comments.

    The Senate Dems are for real with respect to changing the filibuster with the immediate effect of releasing the floodgates of currently pent appointments. Susan Rice took one for the team, creating a situation where increasingly ridiculous Republican senators make increasingly ridiculous claims, further freeing obstacles from the path of the soon to be appointed.

    There’s a story told about Eisenhower. Eisenhower was asked how he could get so much done with the Congress pretty solidly Democratic. Eisenhower replied by relating a discussion he had with a Soviet General in Berlin, after World War II: “I asked this general how they were so successful at saving their tanks from anti-tank mines and other defenses and he replied, ‘Oh, that’s easy, we just sent the infantry in first.’ ” After waiting a beat Eisenhower added, “That’s exactly how I use John Foster Dulles.”

    Without the filibuster and without DeMint, with a toothless McConnell and with McCain slowly sinking into all-the-way-zheimers and with Lindsay Graham constantly looking over his (right) shoulder where is the mojo for the Senate GOP? You just saw the last of it spent on Susan Rice. Hope they enjoyed it ’cause there ain’t no more.

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