Neither the left nor the right will have Susan Rice to kick around anymore. Nor will President Obama have to worry about throwing her under the bus, though there may have been some backroom pressure.
In any event, Rice withdrew her name as potential nominee for the next Secretary of State, apparently stepping aside after withering attacks from Senators John McCain, Lindsay Graham, and Susan Collins. There were also considerable factions on the left who assailed her mainly for her lack of assertiveness and clarity on African affairs.
Below is a portion of her resignation letter to President Obama:
The position of secretary of state should never be politicized. As someone who grew up in an era of comparative bipartisanship and as a sitting U.S. national security official who has served in two U.S. administrations, I am saddened that we have reached this point, even before you have decided whom to nominate. We cannot afford such an irresponsible distraction from the most pressing issues facing the American people.
I am grateful, as always, for your unwavering confidence in me and, especially, for your extraordinary personal support during these past several weeks. I look forward to continuing to serve you and our great country with enthusiasm and pride as U.S. permanent representative to the United Nations and as a member of your Cabinet and National Security Council.
It has been and remains my highest professional privilege to serve as your United Nations ambassador. I am deeply grateful for your steadfast support for all we do at the U.S. Mission to the U.N. and for my dedicated colleagues. Your vision and leadership have enabled the U.S. to restore our global standing, strengthen our national security, repair our relationship with the United Nations, and advance U.S. interests and values. I am proud of the many U.S. successes at the United Nations, including the protection of civilians from Libya to Cote D'Ivoire, strengthening the nuclear non-proliferation regime and increasing international pressure on Iran and North Korea through the toughest sanctions ever, our unwavering support for Israel, our contribution to the birth of the world's newest state, South Sudan, accelerating U.N. reform, and our bold defense of the equal rights of all human beings regardless of their race, religion, economic status or whom they love. I look forward to building on this major progress in your second term.
I am highly honored to be considered by you for appointment as secretary of state. I am fully confident that I could serve our country ably and effectively in that role. However, if nominated, I am now convinced that the confirmation process would be lengthy, disruptive and costly— to you and to our most pressing national and international priorities. That trade-off is simply not worth it to our country. It is far more important that we devote precious legislative hours and energy to enacting your core goals, including comprehensive immigration reform, balanced deficit reduction, job creation, and maintaining a robust national defense and effective U.S. global leadership. Therefore, I respectfully request that you no longer consider my candidacy at this time.
Though the discussion appears to be moot now that Susan Rice has apparently withdrawn her name from consideration to be secretary of state, the criticism of Rice’s undiplomatic style would seem to be compliments when coming from conservatives. But I fear an important point is being lost: this criticism was not coming from the right, by and large. The attacks on Rice’s disposition have been driven by the left. Indeed, what is remarkable about the controversy over Rice is how thoroughly the left took command of it–and greatly expanded the effort to prevent her nomination.
As I wrote a couple of weeks ago, Republicans on the Hill had basically limited their critique of Rice to her misleading statements following the Benghazi attack. Liberals, on the other hand, made it personal. Dana Milbank suggested Rice had an attitude problem. Maureen Dowd said Rice was too ambitious and unprincipled for her own good–or the country’s. Yesterday at the Daily Beast, Lloyd Grove launched a bizarre attack on Rice that accused her of having a personality disorder. The left has also been driving the less personal attacks as well. Howard French said Rice’s Africa legacy is the further empowerment of dictators. Human Rights Watch’s Tom Malinowski knocked Rice for essentially enabling atrocities in Congo.
Meanwhile, it should not go unnoticed that Hillary Clinton made her opposition to Rice clear to officials in Washington, which may explain the avalanche of leaks and criticism and personal sniping that came from the left as soon as the battle commenced. All of which makes Ben Smith’s piece at Buzzfeed today, headlined “Why The Republican War On Susan Rice Is A Terrible Idea,” so strange. Smith, usually more politically astute than this, allowed himself to be spun by Rice’s few allies to attack the right just as criticism of Rice from the left is everywhere (the Atlantic, for example, can’t seem to stop bashing Rice).
The lack of quotes of actual Republicans criticizing Rice in Smith’s article should be a clue that the GOP had not led this fight for quite some time now. Smith even mentions Dowd’s column as evidence of shifting GOP tactics, knocking the right for “circulating” Dowd’s piece. (Welcome to the Vast Right Wing Conspiracy, Maureen Dowd!)