Three senators — Kelly Ayotte, John McCain, and Lindsey Graham — are calling for Watergate-style hearings into the Benghazi attack. All three also oppose the elevation of Ambassador Susan Rice to lead the State Department. Asked about their opposition to Rice during his annual press love fest on Wednesday, President Barack Obama visibly and audibly bristled at the idea that anyone would question Rice or his nomination of her. Obama took a “my way or the highway” approach Wednesday, just as he did in his first meeting with Republicans after his inauguration in 2009. “I won” has morphed into “Come after me,” despite the fact that the president earned fewer votes this time than in 2008 and his party remains out of power in the House and in most of the states.
In defending Rice, Obama played brave knight to the ambassador’s damsel in distress. That’s an interesting twist on the old fables, in which the brave knight did not actually put the damsel in her distress so that he could stage a fake rescue. That’s exactly what Obama has done in Susan Rice’s case; she delivered Benghazi misinformation on his director orders, inviting the Republican criticism of her.
“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,” Obama said.
The Obama White House knew during the attack that it was not sparked by a protest. It’s outrageous to question why Ambassador Rice spread misinformation about a terrorist attack that killed four Americans?
“But when they go after the U.N. ambassador, apparently because they think she’s an easy target, then they’ve got a problem with me,” Obama said, in big talk coming from a man who failed to defend the four Americans who died in Libya on 9-11-12. Obama defended Ambassador Rice against ordinary and reasonable Washington back-and-forth with more passion than he defended Ambassador Stevens. Why? He called her an “easy target.” What does that mean?
The fact is, Obama admitted that he trotted Rice out on those Sunday shows on September 16 without any deep knowledge of the issue at hand. He treated her as he treats his White House and campaign spokesmen, demeaning Rice’s role as ambassador and representative of the United States. He misused her, and he is the reason her credibility is shot.
His behavior in defending Rice suggests that Obama has already decided on nominating Rice to succeed outgoing Secretary of State Hillary Clinton. At this point it’s a matter of when, not if. He dispatched her on those Sunday shows either because she really did not know much about Benghazi and therefore could not be tripped up in any cross-examination, or to audition her to replace Clinton, or both.
His behavior Wednesday suggests that despite his pledge to consider ideas from all sides in his second term, he has no intention of actually doing so. It also signals that Obama will use every weapon at hand to get his way. The nomination of Susan Rice presents him with an obvious weapon.
If you think Obama won’t use race and gender to get what he wants, you’re an idiot.
Factor in, also, that Graham and McCain aren’t figures who inspire the GOP base (both tend to insult the GOP base).
Republicans are going to have to be agile and savvy if they want to stop Rice’s nomination. They have the votes to filibuster, but they will have the media assaulting them, and they will have Democratic race-baiters like Rep. Jim Clyburn delivering crossfire on Obama’s behalf. Republicans who choose to fight Rice’s nomination will have to account for both, along with Obama’s disingenuous and often nasty treatment of them.
Sens. McCain and Graham are poor choices to lead the opposition to Rice. Sen. Ayotte and perhaps Sen. Marco Rubio or newly elected Sen. Ted Cruz of Texas should lead the charge. Cruz could be especially effective at presenting what would amount to a legal case against Rice’s nomination. The Republicans should consider launching an informative ad campaign highlighting Rice’s serial misinformation statements. The ads should also pull together and highlight Rice’s performance as U.S. ambassador to the United Nations. She has not been a reformer in an institution that badly needs reform, and which is unpopular with the American people. Tie the UN and misinformation around her neck and dare Obama to nominate her.
Barack Obama will be nasty in his second term, probably nastier to Republicans than he was in his first. He believes that his narrow re-election grants him a sweeping mandate. On Wednesday the media’s disgraceful performance proved to him that he will get an easy ride with them. Republicans should be prepared to fight hard enough to win substantive battles against the Obama-media complex, or not fight at all.