The move is an in-your-face insult to Congress, to the Americans killed in Benghazi and their families and another instance of utterly incompetent, dishonest loyalists getting the really big jobs (e.g. Chuck Hagel). Rice was, of course, front and center in the do-nothing approach to the Rwandan genocide during the Clinton administration. She delivered a blistering diatribe against Israel after being obliged to veto a U.N. Security Council resolution condemning Israel for housing construction. In other words, she is the perfect choice for a president who has misread almost every foreign policy dilemma, has had a prickly relationship with Israel and doesn’t give a fig about genocide in Syria.
To backfill Rice’s post, the president is appointing Samantha Power, best known for calling Hillary Clinton a “monster” during the 2008 campaign. It is that kind of forthrightness that could come in handy at the U.N. Ironically it was Power who deplored Rice’s behavior on Rwanda. That would be two pluses in her column. It is true that in the past Power has counseled a brand of foreign policy too conciliatory for my taste (but then the president is the chief proponent of that world view), but previously in the administration she at least nudged the president to intervene in Libya. There is no reason to hold up her nomination, although she should be questioned as to our post-Gaddafi strategy and how and why so little action was taken to bolster the regime and tamp down on jihadists (who eventually killed four Americans). Her views on genocide and the need to incorporate human rights into our foreign policy should prove to be interesting. It also is important to get her take on whether our continued participation in the heinous, dictatorship-stocked U.N. Human Rights Council has accomplished anything other than to legitimize the most anti-Semitic arm of the U.N. (and that is saying a lot).
The temptation is great for Republicans to lash out at people unconnected to or blameless in the Benghazi fiasco because they can’t get to the people really responsible (e.g. the president, the current and future national security advisers, Hillary Clinton). But we should have little patience with such behavior. When they had a chance to hold up the nominations of John Brennan and Chuck Hagel, they folded. When Clinton was testifying, they did not ask her key questions (e.g. had she sent Christopher Stevens to Benghazi, why raise the anti-Muslim video at the casket ceremony on Sept. 14, did she take her eye off the ball in Benghazi). By the way, where is the subpoena to demand Clinton’s and David Petraeus’s testimony?