Commentary: Obama Calls Susan Rice “Extraordinary” and She Is

The U.S. ambassador to the United Nations continues to be a standout even amid Republican attacks.

Posted: 11/28/2012 04:08 PM EST

Surrounded by his cabinet, President Obama pronounced that “Susan Rice is extraordinary.” And indeed she is.

Rice, the U.S. ambassador to the United Nations, is a brilliant, accomplished public servant who has been steeped in the intricacies of foreign policy for years. She was elected to Phi Beta Kappa at Stanford University. She was awarded a Rhodes Scholarship and earned a master’s degree in philosophy from the New College in Oxford. She has worked in think tanks and in the national security team of the Clinton administration. She is one of the great minds and masterful public servants of this era.

As a sign of how extraordinary she is, Rice traveled to the halls of Congress to meet with the very senators who have steadily — and unnecessarily — vilified her for doing nothing more than offering to the American public the details of the strife of Libya that she received from the Central Intelligence Agency.

Instead of taking her explanation at face value and offering her the benefit of the ill-placed doubt, the cabal of Republican senators, led by the man who lost to Barack Obama four years ago, only persisted in the demonizing of one of the most accomplished Black women in public service.

Sen. John McCain of Arizona, the 2008 Republican presidential candidate, continues in his rant, saying that Rice deliberately misled the public by not calling the incident in Benghazi a terrorist attack. This coming from a man who supported a war in Iraq that was based upon the Bush Administration’s inaccurate insistence that there were weapons of mass destruction there.

He said that if the president decides to nominate her for secretary of state, he will oppose that selection.

In reality, McCain’s pique has little to nothing to do with Rice. The Arizona senator is fighting — in an intensely unprincipled way — for relevance at a time when his party is feeling bruised by the loss of Mitt Romney. It’s a way to attempt to challenge the president.

But Obama has demonstrated that he is not dissuaded by the reaction of a few irrational GOP senators. If he decides to nominate Rice for secretary of state — not a bad prospect, by the way — he has the confidence of having a majority in the Senate and an American electorate that decided he should have a second term.

The president may well have signaled his intention when he told reporters on Thursday that when it comes to Rice, he “couldn’t be prouder of the job that she’s done.”

If he decides to nominate Rice for the job of secretary of state it would be a forceful demonstration of the fact that he is entitled to his choice of an important cabinet secretary. At the same time it would be a bold step to not only elevate one of the most impressive African-American women of our time. It would also serve as another reminder to Republicans of who, in fact, won the presidential election.

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(Photos from left: T.J. Kirkpatrick-Pool/Getty Images, Win McNamee/Getty Images)

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