Commentary: Susan Rice's Revenge

Commentary: Susan Rice's Revenge

By attacking Susan Rice, Republicans have unintentionally helped to ensure that her star will continue to shine.

Published June 5, 2013

When Susan Rice withdrew her name from consideration to be secretary of state last December, many of us speculated she might one day become President Obama's national security adviser.

“I don't know where Susan Rice will end up next," I wrote back in December, "but I can tell you this: A well-known 48-year-old Rhodes Scholar with senior government experience in two presidential administrations and a Ph.D. from Oxford isn't going to suddenly disappear from the public spotlight."

Turns out we were right, and today the president formally named Rice to the national security post at the White House, a job that does not require Senate confirmation.

This is the second act of vindication for Ambassador Rice. The first took place last month when the White House released 100 pages of emails that proved Rice had nothing to do with the creation of the controversial Benghazi talking points she used on her Sunday morning show appearances last September.

After the emails were released, some observers called for Republicans to apologize to Rice for character assassination. True to form, however, Republican Sen. Lindsey Graham tweeted that "Ambassador Susan Rice deserves a subpoena from the Congress, not an apology."

Rice's appointment today comes just as Republicans find themselves engaged in clearly partisan attacks on other prominent women and minorities in the administration. After spending the better part of the past four years attacking Obama's legitimacy, Republicans have spent the past four months trying to bring down his likely successor, former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton. And of course they've waged an ongoing campaign to undermine Attorney General Eric Holder. It's no wonder the GOP is struggling to win women and minority voters when they spend so much time attacking influential women and minorities.

Largely because of Republican obstructionism, only 83 percent of Obama's judicial nominees have been confirmed by Congress, compared to 92 percent who were confirmed under President Bush. Given the GOP's resistance to women and minorities, perhaps it's not surprising that 37 percent of Obama's appointees have been minorities and 43 percent have been women. In contrast, just 17 percent of Bush's judicial appointees were minorities and only 22 percent were women. It's as though Republicans can't stop themselves from attacking women and people of color.

That's why today's appointment of Susan Rice is so important. It comes just one day after the president nominated three new candidates for the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia, two women and a black man. Republicans misleadingly call this “court packing.” Actually, it’s called filling vacancies that the president is obligated to fill under the Constitution that conservatives claim to love so much. But when you live in the fantasy world of the GOP, everything President Obama does is either "an attack on freedom," "unconstitutional" or a "scandal," or in some cases all of the above.

By appointing Susan Rice and nominating the three judges to the D.C. Circuit this week, the president seems to be daring Congress to fight him on these talented four women and minorities and on others to come. Of course, he may not win every battle in this ongoing turf war, but even in defeat, the president forces the opposition to portray themselves as a narrow-minded, old-fashioned, mostly white group of obstructionists. That's exactly the image that cost them the White House in the last two elections.

Call it Susan Rice's revenge. By attacking Susan Rice, Republicans have unintentionally helped to ensure there will be more Susan Rices to come in the future. As I wrote in December, the GOP may soon live to regret what they did to her.


Keith Boykin is a New York Times best-selling author and former White House aide to President Clinton. He attended Harvard Law School with President Barack Obama and currently serves as a TV political commentator. He writes political commentary for each week.

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Written by Keith Boykin


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