Friday, December 14, 2012

BOILED RICE

"Life is not an exact science, it is an art."~ Samuel Butler

Barack Obama may not be personally responsible for the Obama Administration shooting itself in the foot, but I'll bet you he won't ever let anything like this happen again.

Of course I'm speaking of what happened to Susan Rice, who, had she been allowed to be more than a "trophy mouthpiece" would have made an excellent Secretary of State, the ideal candidate to take over for Hillary Clinton. She has the quals: Rice served in Bill Clinton's administration as a national security adviser and an assistant secretary of state for Africa.

Some have criticized Rice as mirroring what they perceive as Obama's Colonialist Stance: Back in September she delivered an emotional eulogy for the late prime minister of Ethiopia Meles Zenawi, remembering him as "brilliant", "uncommonly wise, able to see the big picture and the long game" and "a true friend to me". Rice said she sometimes "profoundly disagreed" with Meles – who had a long track record of suppressing democracy, sometimes with bloody results – on some issues, but said he was "consistently reasoned in his judgements". Hmmm...

Perhaps The New Yorker has the best take on Rice's decision (if indeed it was her decision) to withdraw ::: "The big lesson of Ambassador Susan Rice’s decision to drop out as a candidate for Secretary of State may be that we should now expect top Administration officials to fall ill on weekends when there is bad news on their turf—lest they be the ones to carry a subsequently attackable official message onto the Sunday-morning talk shows. That was Rice’s great offense: she was the messenger, and so Senator John McCain set out to bring her down. McCain had his own petty personal beef with her: she had said a not-nice thing about him during his dismal run for the White House four years ago, and one thing McCain still knows how to do in politics is to hold a grudge. His bogus outrage about what Rice said and didn’t say on TV in the immediate aftermath of the assassination in Benghazi of our ambassador to Libya became a bogus media maelstrom—full-fledged but devoid of meaningful content. Obama had not nominated her to replace Hilary Clinton at State—he never said a public word about the possibility—but she was subjected to the roughest vetting of any public official in a very long time.

In reality, Rice was probably the sort of hard-nosed, half-realist, half-idealist foreign-policy type that a Republican like McCain ought to have been happy with: an establishment insider with a strong conventional sense of the national interest and a hawkish interventionist bent, especially when it comes to the waging of so-called humanitarian wars like the NATO-led revolution in Libya, which led to the blowback in Benghazi that has caused her such grief. For this reason, once Rice was under attack from the right she drew fire from critics on the left as well, for not quite having opposed the Iraq war while not quite supporting it, for having a weakness for African strongmen, and for generally being representative of the policies of the Presidents (Clinton and Obama) whom she has served. If you’ve been reading the papers recently, you might think she was the sole author of those policies, or at least of all that might be found wrong with them.

The New Yorker's most damning observation ::: "What has been missing from the chorus telling us why Susan Rice should not be Secretary of State has been any real discussion of who should be. The conventional wisdom has been that if she didn’t get the nod, Obama would go with Senator John Kerry. If anybody is excited about that possibility (which would give the Massachusetts Republican Scott Brown, a good crack at reclaiming a Senate seat), they have kept very quiet about it. Are we to take this silence to mean that everyone who was against Rice would be happy with Kerry, who lost the 2004 Presidential election in large part because he was for the Iraq war before he was against it, and couldn’t effectively push back against the disgracefully dishonest attacks on his indisputable honor as a Vietnam war hero? White House whisperers now say that Obama is considering several candidates. But maybe the bigger question is whether it really matters much."

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