President Obama announced that Susan Rice will replace Tom Donilon as head of National Security, with Samantha Powers heading to the United Nations as our new ambassador. Rice will not requires Senate confirmation, which means we’ll be spared a repeat of Republican style obstructionism and misogyny for her. Samantha Power will undoubtedly have Republicans blowing gaskets.
Of the benefits that come with these appointments, watching Republicans heads turn 360 degrees is probably the most fun, but also the least important. Rice and Powers have stellar qualifications and will definitely offer some needed new perspectives in their respective positions.
Susan Rice earned a B.A. in History at Stanford University. She went to Oxford as a Rhodes Scholar where she earned a Masters of Philosophy and Doctorate of Philosophy. It’s worth noting that Chatham House British International Studies Association honored her doctoral thesis as the U.K.’s most distinguished in International Relations.
Rice’s career path began as a foreign policy aid to Michael Dukakis in his 1988 presidential campaign. She worked as a global management consultant for McKinsey and Company before working on former President Clinton’s election campaign. Between 1993 and 1997, Rice worked for the Clinton administration as an adviser to the National Security Council and as director of international organizations and peacekeeping. She served as a special assistant to President Clinton and as senior director for African Affairs from 1995 to 1997. Rice went on to serve in the Department of State as assistant Secretary of State for African Affairs. She served as the managing director and principle of Intellibridge before serving as a Senior Fellow on Foreign Policy with the Brookings Institute, where she focused on “U.S. foreign policy, weak and failing states, the implications of global poverty, and transnational threats to security.”
The Right Wing is already reacting to the news of Rice’s appointment with the predictable half-truths and innuendo. For example, under the Headline “Moving on Up” (perhaps referring to the theme song of the 1970’s series The Jeffersons?), Townhall tried to resurrect the GOP’s talking point concerning Rice’s television appearances following Benghazi. Fox News’ “article” on Rice also tried to resurrect the “scandal” of Benghazi.
Equally as in your face to Republicans who think women ruined the education system because they got jobs is the President’s choice to appoint Samantha Power as Diplomat to the United Nations. Aside from the problem that Republicans have with women having power over anything other than a stove, Power, like Rice, was well educated and outspoken. After attending Yale, Power wrote about the wars in Yugoslavia for U.S. News and World Report, The Boston Globe, The Economist and The New Republic. The year after graduating from Harvard Law, Power co-edited Realizing Human Rights: Moving from Inspiration to Impact. while serving as Executive Director of the Carr Center for Human Rights Policy at Harvard’s Kennedy School of Government. Power went on to write the Pulitzer prize winning book, A Problem from Hell: America and the Age of Genocide in 2003.
In 2005, Power said of John Bolton, who served as the U.S. Diplomat to the United Nations in the Bush Administration:
Bolton… seems averse to compromise, and is apparently committed to the belief that the U.N. and international law undermine U.S. interests. If he is to be an engine for U.N. reform, he will have to jettison his core values,” she wrote. “The appointment… has the look of a bureaucratic fix for an Administration that doesn’t really care what happens to the U.N.
In 2005, Power began a transition from journalism to politics as then Senator Barack Obama’s policy adviser fellow. She served as Presidential Candidate Obama’s foreign policy advisor in 2008, but resigned from the campaign after making some controversial remarks about Hillary Clinton.
More recently, Samantha Power led the White House’s Office of Multilateral Affairs and Human Rights.
Rice and Power are outspoken. Both are longtime advisers to the President. President Obama’s decision to appoint them to their respective positions is sending a message. As Jason Easley put it: “The clear message that President Obama is sending to congressional Republicans begins with an F and ends with a U.”
Nothing about Rice and Power suggests a desire by the Obama Administration to continue coddling or negotiating with Republicans who have done nothing but obstruct the President’s foreign policy (and domestic policy) at every turn. Republican obstructionism and so called fiscal restraint have been costly in ways that extend beyond their carnival act in Congress.
It’s about time.
Image from The Daily Beast