Today, the Senator told CBS News that he would block Ambassador Susan Rice’s confirmation if President Obama nominates her as the next Secretary of State, saying she’s ‘not being very bright’ and ‘not qualified.’
Perhaps, but rumor has it Susan Rice has actual foreign policy experience that expands past what she can see from land here in America.
Watch here via CBS:
McCain said of Rice, “she’s not qualified.” This he based not on her ability to see Putin rearing his head over Alaska, but on the more subtle notion that Rice got something wrong about Libya when speaking the to the media. Specifically, McCain faults her for asserting that the attack was spontaneous in her initial media appearances. This, of course, was her knowledge based on the intelligence provided.
Here’s a refresher for McCain, who should know a bit about protocol by now — on her September 16 appearance in front of the media (emphasis mine):
RICE: Well, first of all, Chris, we are obviously investigating this very closely. The FBI has a lead in this investigation. The information, the best information and the best assessment we have today is that in fact this was not a preplanned, premeditated attack… Obviously, we will wait for the results of the investigation and we don’t want to jump to conclusions before then. But I do think it’s important for the American people to know our best current assessment.
It is not Rice’s assessment, but the Director of National Intelligence’s assessment that McCain is criticizing. On the 28th of September, they issued a statement saying that they initially thought the attack “began spontaneously” and that new information caused them to come to a new conclusion. How hard is this for Republicans like McCain (who’s gotten it wrong by rushing in head first time and time again) to understand?
McCain tried all of the Fox talking points about Rice (which aren’t worth repeating), and then suggested that perhaps she could be cleared via a select investigative committee for “misleading” the American people. No word yet on whether McCain regrets picking a secessionist supporter as his VP, or if he thinks perhaps he should be investigated for recklessly misleading the American people that his pick was qualified and/or mentally capable of being a Vice President. From many accounts, she was neither.
McCain also said at minimum Rice was “not being very bright.” We are unclear what the problem is, if indeed the Senator does think this, unless the Senator has buried the painful memories of his Vice Presidential pick Sarah Palin. Palin thought a VP got to tell the Senate what to do, thought we shared a border with Iraq, and didn’t know the difference between North and South Korea. Sarah Palin was stumped by Katie Couric when asked what she read to keep informed. Palin never got over that “gotcha”.
But McCain should take great comfort in the knowledge that in Republican circles, being bright is only a detriment to service as a puppet to the elite. Furthermore, as he set about trying to prove in 2008, being bright isn’t a qualification for being a heartbeat away from the Presidency in the GOP.
McCain keeps reminding us that he still thinks Palin was a great pick. When the man who gave you Sarah Palin tells you that Susan Rice is not bright or qualified, it’s best to run that through the McCain filter for context. Susan Rice can tell you what she reads, and she has never pointed her fingers skyward to claim that being able to see the skies gave her foreign policy experience. Susan Rice has actual foreign policy experience as the U.S. Permanent Representative to the United Nations.
In fact, Susan Rice would have been a better VP pick for John McCain in 2008 based on her resume alone. To wit, according to her bio, Rice “served as a Senior Advisor for National Security Affairs on the Obama for America Campaign. She later served on the Advisory Board of the Obama-Biden Transition and as co-chair of its policy working group on national security. From 2002-2009, she was a Senior Fellow at the Brookings Institution where she focused on U.S. foreign policy, transnational security threats, weak states, global poverty and development. From 1997 to 2001, Ambassador Rice was the U.S. Assistant Secretary of State for African Affairs. As Assistant Secretary, she oversaw the management of 43 U.S. Embassies and over 5,000 U.S. and Foreign Service national employees, with a bureau-operating budget of over $100 million and a program budget of approximately $160 million annually. In 2000, Ambassador Rice was co-recipient of the White House’s 2000 Samuel Nelson Drew Memorial Award for distinguished contributions to the formation of peaceful, cooperative relationships between states. From 1995-1997, Ambassador Rice served as Special Assistant to President William J. Clinton and Senior Director for African Affairs at the National Security Council at the White House.Prior to this position, she served as the Director for International Organizations and Peacekeeping on the National Security Council staff from 1993 until 1995.”
Also, Rice has a PhD in International Relations from New College, Oxford University, England, where she was a Rhodes Scholar. Meh — I won’t go on about her winning a prize for the most distinguished doctoral dissertation in the United Kingdom because I fear it will only distress Republicans who already harbor suspicions about smart people.
But see? As U.S. Assistant Secretary of State for African Affairs, Susan Rice probably knows that Africa is a continent and not a country, as the Senator’s Vice Presidential pick thought. Qualifications!
John McCain hasn’t been the same since he sold his soul to the devil only to lose in the end after making an international fool of himself by picking Sarah Palin (and, unwittingly, it seems, her witch doctor) as his VP. Not bright! Anyone would be bitter.
Senator John McCain wants Ambassador Susan Rice and her PhD and her decades of experience to get off his tinfoil lawn. Winkers only, please.
Update: In his press conference this afternoon, President Obama was asked about McCain’s attacks on Susan Rice. He was righteously outraged, saying, “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.”
Ms. Jones is the co-founder/ editor-in-chief of PoliticusUSA and a member of the White House press pool.
Sarah hosts Politicus News and co-hosts Politicus Radio. Her analysis has been featured on several national radio, television news programs and talk shows, and print outlets including Stateside with David Shuster, as well as The Washington Post, The Atlantic Wire, CNN, MSNBC, The Week, The Hollywood Reporter, and more.
Sarah is a member of the Society of Professional Journalists.