The Washington PostDemocracy Dies in Darkness

The Insiders: Susan Rice’s payday

The Susan Rice appointment, taken alongside other recent White House maneuvers, outbursts and clumsy antics, shows that President Obama is more interested in showcasing his grievances than he is in providing good governance, in wallowing in his administration’s failures and the assorted scandals instead of trying to rise above them.

Could Obama not find one fresh, enthusiastic, well-credentialed national security expert to serve as his national security adviser? Wouldn’t a new face somewhere in his administration do him some good?

Why do I get the sense that I have more optimism about the president’s remaining tenure than he does?  A lot of people are invested in Obama’s success. He did win a majority of votes in the 2008 and 2012 elections. And I believe he will always have pretty decent poll numbers; he’ll probably never sink below the mid-40s. A lot of people wish him well. They take pride in the fact that he is our nation’s first black president, and this affords him a certain amount of goodwill that other politicians don’t enjoy.

It doesn’t need repeating, but after the Benghazi attacks, it was Rice who was eager to do all five Sunday talk shows. She was perfectly willing to spread misinformation to prove to the real powers in the Obama machine — David Plouffe, David Axelrod and others — that she was a reliable political fixer.  She showed them she wasn’t particularly burdened by the truth. Well, today is payday for her loyalty.

But she is damaged goods. Republicans in Congress don’t trust her, and neither do many in the media. There’s not a chance in the world she would ever be confirmed again by the Senate. So by being appointed national security adviser, she can have her reward and not have to answer too many questions.

Yesterday, Obama refused to take the high road when announcing his judicial appointments, and today he shows defiance to Republicans — and to anyone who cares about the truth on Benghazi — by bringing Susan Rice into his White House. Combine this with Obama stonewalling over an IRS special prosecutor, parsing his own words to avoid the truth and taunting Republicans in Congress via Plouffe and others, and you have a political hardball operation that my old boss Lee Atwater would love. Lee was never much interested in the government side of politics either. But Lee never thought he should be president.

In short, Obama has shown a general forfeiture of any affirmative efforts at governing.  “Hope and change” is now “seething and scheming,” to avoid the truth and escape blame.