The hard-core commenters on the Post Opinions page might still feel like boa constrictors digesting a sow. They might have stood in line all night in pursuit of the Black Friday Questing Beast. But none of that has kept them from leaping upon a Post editorial and covering it with nigh-unheard-of-for-an-editorial 5,000 comments. It is the sort of thing that even PostScript, digesting her sow deep underground in the PostScript bunker, notices, cautiously. It must, somehow, be more important than eating and buying stuff, which is what we’re all supposed to be doing today.
Or perhaps it’s a trap.
The editorial remarks upon the “bizarre” attention United Nations Ambassador Susan Rice is receiving, both for comments she made about the Benghazi attacks on Sept. 11 and for the assumption that she will be nominated to be next secretary of state. Neither aspect really makes sense to the Editorial Board, which cautiously suggests that House Republicans might have slimy motives for pursuing this matter so aggressively. It might be regular partisan animosity, and it might be racism, but either way it seems way out of proportion to the editorial writer.
So, what would indicate to commenters that the House GOP is fueled by, among other things, racism?
SMB3 says it’s because the targets of this kind of out-of-proportion political rage are more often than not black. It’s not clear if SMB3 means Republicans, conservative media, conspiracy theorists or elected officials by “they,” but:
They also go after high ranking figures of color — Eric Holder, Valerie Jarrett, Shirley Sherrod, Michelle Obama, Van Jones, et al.
TheHillman says that the behavior of the House GOP is irrational, implying the motive might be emotional or based on prejudice:
I really hesitate to suggest racism. But honestly at this point I’m not sure what else you could pin this on. The CIA and FBI and State and everyone involved has backed Susan Rice. Yet the Republicans persist. Against all reason and contrary to all ‘facts on the ground.’ It just makes absolutely no sense.
So if it’s not strategic, it’s the racist id bubbling up, then?
blbixler thinks the lawmakers are more likely exploiting racism than embodying it themselves:
This attack is a political ploy to get John Kerry appointed instead of Susan Rice, with the hope that Scott Brown will take over his seat in the Senate. The fact that this allows the GOP to indulge in racism and misogyny is just gravy to that bunch of old white males.
Oy. Okay, what about reasons racism wouldn’t be a factor?
kurtisfechtmeyer says the whole weirdness is about protecting President Obama’s reputation after a huge screwup:
The facts are clear and have always been clear: on the 11th anniversary of 9-11, a coordinated attack by Al Qaeda on our consulate in Benghazi and a CIA outpost killed four Americans. Every single person in a position of responsibility knew this from hour one, including the President, . . . Rice, Panetta, Petraeus, etc. knew it. To pretend otherwise it stupid or dishonest.
It is also obvious that this fact would be embarrassing for a President who campaigned heavily on “Al Qaeda is decimated” and “Bin Laden is dead.” If the facts behind the Benghazi attack did not support this contention, a major thesis for the reelection of President Obama was gone. So, how did the Obama campaign handle this huge political embarrassment? They arrested an irrelevant American video-maker for “parole violations” and sent surrogates on the airwaves to lie about the situation in Benghazi.
The administration’s actions are grotesque and deserving of no defense. The only thing more grotesque than the administration’s actions are those who want to cover them up by smearing other people as racists.
Even accepting that, PostScript still isn’t sure why Ambassador Rice is the big target. Do we really think that we can get a U.N. ambassador or secretary of state who will go on talk shows and say things the administration doesn’t want her to say? How would that help anything? If there’s a giant coverup conspiracy already, how would holding up someone’s confirmation or calling her incompetent be key to unraveling the conspiracy?
RichardCollins says that the House GOP’s weirdness is in direct response to the administration’s weirdness:
There should be serious questions raised about both what happened and why Ms. Rice said what she did. How can State and other government agencies argue for money for security and then apparently not recognize a threat in a region that is generally considered a high threat one? Who made what decisions based on what rationale?
Why did the UN ambassador make the statement? She is not Secretary of State. The attack was not on a UN related facility or related to her duties at the UN. Why wouldn’t Ms. Clinton, State’s spokesperson or the assistant secretary for NEA (bureau in State to which the late Ambassador Stevens and his staff reported) be the one to make the public statement? Why didn’t she simply say that we didn’t know?
jheath53 agrees that the irrational motivations that TheHillman suspected don’t have to be racist:
While one might legitimately question why Susan Rice related information that later turned out to be untrue, to immediately call her a liar and unqualified to be Secretary of State reveals that it isn’t really about Benghazi, but about Republicans trying to regain the upper hand on national security issues after three decades of incompetence, criminality and treason.
SF_Conservative has non-race-based, non-Benghazi reasons for people to get this angry about Susan Rice:
At the time of the 1994 Rwandan Genocide, Rice reportedly said, “If we use the word ‘genocide’ and are seen as doing nothing, what will be the effect on the November [congressional] election?” Rice subsequently acknowledged the mistakes made at the time and felt that a debt needed repaying. The inability or failure of the Clinton administration to do anything about the genocide would inform her later views on possible military interventions. She would later say of the experience: “I swore to myself that if I ever faced such a crisis again, I would come down on the side of dramatic action, going down in flames if that was required.”
In a 2002 op-ed piece in the Washington Post, former Ambassador to Sudan Timothy M. Carney and news contributor Mansoor Ijaz implicated Rice and counter-terrorism czar Richard Clarke in missing an opportunity to neutralize Osama bin Laden while he was still in Sudan in 1996. They write that Sudan and Secretary of State Madeleine Albright were ready to cooperate on intelligence potentially leading to Bin Laden, but that Rice and Clarke persuaded National Security Advisor Sandy Berger to overrule Albright. Similar allegations were made by Vanity Fair contributing editor David Rose and Richard Miniter, author of “Losing Bin Laden,” in a November 2003 interview with World.
This appears to be from Wikipedia. PostScript doesn’t understand what is so incompetent about the Rwanda part and why the House GOP contingent isn’t bringing up the second part more often, especially if it’s the real reason they’re so angry.
RealChoices wonders what effects this sideline story is having on the bigger picture:
Susan Rice is a poor choice for Secretary of State and her critics should have conveyed this to President in private. Having said that, by flogging this ridiculous conspiracy theory so excessively, the GOP has probably made her nomination more likely.
OldUncleTom agrees that we’re all being distracted.
There may be compelling reasons why Susan Rice should not be Sec State, but we have to wade through all the nonsense about Benghazi before we have even a tiny chance of learning about them.
So there are other reasons we should be wary of Susan Rice, and there are other questions yet unanswered about the vulnerability of the Benghazi Consulate/CIA building, but we’re talking instead about whether she’s incompetent or a Rhodes scholar and who gave her talking points when she went on talk shows. It was a trap after all!