First was the story in Mother Jones dinging U.N. Ambassador Susan Rice for her potential conflict of interest on the Keystone XL pipeline. Then this from the New York Times, the New York-based communications arm of the White House, via Andrew Rosenthal:
Republicans seem to have finally scored one victory this fall — taking Susan Rice out of the running for secretary of state. . . . Senator Susan Collins of Maine, one of the only supposed Republican moderates left in Washington, essentially killed Ms. Rice’s prospects of becoming Secretary of State today. Ms. Collins said that Ms. Rice had played to presidential politics in her description of the Benghazi assault, which she said “began spontaneously” and were spurred by the YouTube video.
Rosenthal then adds the rationalization for Democrats to walk away from Rice. (“On MSNBC this evening, David Corn of Mother Jones noted that the fight over Ms. Rice is a distraction. ‘The big thing,’ he said, ‘is not what she said on a talk show. It’s what actually happened and what should be done afterward.’ ”)
Well, when Right Turn and Mother Jones agree, is there any room for doubt? (Or maybe it’s the sign of the apocalypse?)
Seriously, Sen. John Kerry (D-Mass.) may, as one Obama critic put it to me, have a “more developed world view,” and hence be more destructive in pushing the embrace-our-foes-kick-your-enemies-defer-to-the-U.N. foreign policy. (Indeed, he disastrously spoke of the “international test” for U.S. action in his 2004 debate with President George W. Bush.) But presumably he won’t say anything just to protect the president’s hide. That modicum of independence, plus his outsized ego, may require him to think about his long-term legacy and therefore be less than enamored of things like phony Iran deals that wind up giving the mullahs breathing space to get the bomb. At least there is hope in that regard.
It is also a cautionary tale for presidential advisers that there really are things you shouldn’t do and shouldn’t say for your boss. Obama will be gone in four years, but Rice’s reputation and career is forever tainted by her decision to be a good soldier for him.
UDPATE (12:10 p.m.): Maureen Dowd sympathizes with Sen.. Collins. (“Collins said that before she would support Rice for secretary of state, she needs to ascertain what was really going on. ‘Did they think admitting that it was an Al Qaeda attack would destroy the narrative of Libya being a big success story?’ Collins asked. As one of the administration champions of intervening in Libya, Rice was surely rooting for that success story herself.”)