Chris Cillizza
Reporter November 30, 2012

By most appearances, the week started off well for U.N. Ambassador Susan Rice.

Widely assumed to be President Obama’s pick to be the next secretary of state — as Hillary Rodham Clinton takes a few years off to plan her presidential bid, I mean, to relax — Rice headed to Capitol Hill to meet with a trio of Republican senators who have led the charge for more information about what she knew and when she knew it regarding the terrorist attack in Benghazi, Libya, on Sept. 11.

Chris Cillizza writes “The Fix,” a politics blog for the Washington Post. He also covers the White House. View Archive

It appeared as if Rice and Sens. John McCain (Ariz.), Kelly Ayotte (N.H.) and Lindsey Graham (S.C.) were going to make nice, paving the way for Rice to be nominated and confirmed as the country’s next top diplomat.

That so didn’t happen. “Bottom line, I’m more disturbed now than I was before,” Graham said after the meeting.

Rice, sensing that the anticipated kumbaya session had turned out very differently, put out a statement insisting that “neither I nor anyone else in the Administration intended to mislead the American people at any stage in this process, and the Administration updated Congress and the American people as our assessments evolved.”

Things got worse for Rice as the week went on. After she met with Sen. Susan Collins (R), the Maine moderate said she remained “troubled” by Rice’s description of the Benghazi attacks “at the height of a contentious presidential election campaign.” Collins later added that if Obama nominated Sen. John F. Kerry (Mass.) as secretary of state, he would be easily confirmed. Just in case, you know, anyone was wondering.

Obama, for his part, seemed unconcerned that the criticism was justified — calling Rice “extraordinary” during a Cabinet meeting, a moment that drew applause from administration officials. He may still nominate her for secretary of state, but this past week made clear just how difficult that would be.

Susan Rice, for watching as the next step in your career turned into a partisan fight, you had the worst week in Washington. Congrats, or something.

Have a candidate for the Worst Week in Washington? E-mail Chris Cillizza at chris.cillizza@wpost.com.

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