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Posted at 09:30 AM ET, 11/27/2012

Grover Norquist and Susan Rice: Odd couple in the news

Today, three Republican senators will meet with U.N. Ambassador Susan Rice. Rice famously said some incorrect things about the circumstances surrounding the tragedy in Benghazi.  Her comments were probably at least partially shaped by her desire to be a partisan political participant and not limit herself to diplomacy. It appears that she wanted her colleagues to escape any responsibility for what happened, so she peddled a not-quite-true version of what sparked the attack.

The GOP overhyped the story and tried to escalate the debacle into malfeasance and an administration coverup that the facts didn't fully support. Some in the GOP need to walk back some of what was said or develop a case of amnesia and simply move on to other issues. The story of what was said and what was meant, what was true and what wasn't, and what mattered and what didn't will never be resolved in a way that satisfies everyone. But the question that hangs over Washington is whether the matter is sufficiently settled so that Rice can be nominated and then confirmed by the Senate as secretary of state.

A lot of Democrats join Republicans in hoping that doesn't happen. Who says there is no bipartisanship in the Capitol? The hand-wringing, anxiety and outright horror at the prospect of a Secretary Rice has unified parts of the GOP and Democratic national security establishment. Many who know her best don't think she has the temperament or the skills to lead the State Department, and there is near panic among some Obama appointees at the thought of her selection. There is nothing Rice can say that will completely satisfy Republican Sens. McCain, Graham and Ayotte regarding Benghazi, but a lot of Democrats are hoping that their meeting won't become such a lovefest that the Republican senators abandon their opposition to her nomination.

Speaking of lovefest, many in the media want to see a breakup of the GOP and Grover Norquist. A lot of elected Republican officials over the years have promised not to raise taxes. Norquist has done decades of work to help candidates manifest that position and to help brand the Republican Party as the low-tax, pro-growth party. Good for him. Before we join the media in celebrating the GOP independence from Norquist, we had better realize where this parade — which the left wants to see — is going. Not one Republican has been elected by saying they would raise taxes and cut benefits. Yet the media swoons over every Republican who moves in that direction. Every day, it seems more Republicans are looking for more ways to say we will support tax increases.

I haven't heard one Democrat say what he or she would be willing to give in entitlement savings in exchange for a Republican capitulation on tax increases. We are negotiating with ourselves. If real, enforceable entitlement reform is ever on the table, we should consider increasing revenue — if the net effect on the economy is positive. Until then, volunteering to raise taxes, belittling Norquist and not challenging the Democrats on spending doesn't seem to be good politics or a path to good policy.

By  |  09:30 AM ET, 11/27/2012

 
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