Thursday, November 29, 2012

GOP Gauntlet: Susan Rice's Practice Run

To succeed Hillary Clinton as Secretary of State, the current UN ambassador must overcome a diplomatic challenge as formidable as any that might face her on the world stage: winning over paranoid antagonists with hostile intentions—-members of the US Senate.

Even before being nominated, she is trying to do just that in a process usually followed by those who have already been named for high position, a tour of one-on-one meetings with Senators who would vote to confirm her or not.

Ambassador Rice’s meetings follow the growth of potential opposition beyond the McCain-Graham-Ayotte gang of three Amigos as Maine Sen. Susan Collins tells reporters, “I continue to be troubled by the fact that the United Nations ambassador decided to play what was essentially a political role at the height of a contentious presidential election campaign.”

Meanwhile, the molehill that became a mountain prompts scurrying to cover agency backsides as the FBI and CIA point fingers at each other in what normally would be seen as dropping the ball in a confusing local conflict but has now been inflated into a world crisis.

McCain, Graham et al, consciously or not, are following the 1950s playbook of Sen. Joe McCarthy who pumped up every incident into a global accusation (“Who lost China?”).

No responsible person wants to sweep under the rug a situation that resulted in US deaths on foreign soil, but the torrent of accusations against Rice is coming from Republican partisans who hardly fit that description.

If Ambassador Rice is nominated, a full inquiry into her qualifications by sober Senators would be in order. Meanwhile, she is running a gauntlet of accusations by a few who are drunk on petty power.

If she emerges victorious, the new Secretary of State would do so with enough scar tissue to combat tinpot tyrants around the world.  

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