December 13, 2012
Susan Rice (Win McNamee/Getty Images)

Somewhere on Capitol Hill, Sens. John McCain,  Lindsey Graham and Kelly Ayotte must be smiling now that UN Ambassador Susan Rice has withdrawn her name from consideration for plum post of Secretary of State. Their ignoble hounding of Rice  is another sorry episode in the politics of personal destruction in Washington.

The Senators belittled her experience, questioned her competence and wondered about her temperament for a job that she was only rumored to be considered for. Their manufactured hysteria swirled around comments Rice made on the Sunday talk shows on Sept. 16 about the events in Benghazi, Libya, that led up to the murder of four Americans, including the U.S. ambassador, on Sept. 11. Yet, the senators’ meandering quest for “the truth” never led them to asking legitimate questions about failures in protecting the consulate in Benghazi by the State Department, Pentagon and the CIA.

“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,” Rice wrote in her withdrawal letter to the president. “That trade-off is simply not worth it to our country.”

In response, Obama said in part in a statement, “While I deeply regret the unfair and misleading attacks on Susan Rice in recent weeks, her decision demonstrates the strength of her character, and an admirable commitment to rise above the politics of the moment to put our national interests first.”

McCain and Graham issued statements of their own saying they respected Rice’s decision and wishing her well. But what they and Ayotte have succeeded in doing is stopping an able public servant from possibly advancing. They’ve politicized a position that is supposed to be above politics — petty and otherwise. And given the treatment of Rice, the two amigos and amiga have contributed to the view that to serve one’s country in appointed office is the highest form of masochism — or madness.

Jonathan Capehart is a member of the Post editorial board and writes about politics and social issues for the PostPartisan blog.
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