Apparently grossly misleading the public about a terrorist attack -- whether through deliberate lies or under-informed shilling -- does have consequences. As of this afternoon, US Ambassador to the United Nations, Susan Rice, is officially out of the post-Hillary SecState sweepstakes. The question is, did she withdraw on her own volition, or was she given a little shove by the White House? NBC News has the exclusive:
Embattled U.N. envoy Susan Rice is dropping out of the running to be the next secretary of state after months of criticism over her Benghazi comments, she told NBC News on Thursday. “If nominated, I am now convinced that the confirmation process would be lengthy, disruptive and costly – to you and to our most pressing national and international priorities,” Rice wrote in a letter to President Obama, saying she’s saddened by the partisan politics surrounding her prospects. “That trade-off is simply not worth it to our country...Therefore, I respectfully request that you no longer consider my candidacy at this time,” she wrote in the letter obtained by NBC News. Brian Williams will have an exclusive interview with Rice on tonight’s “Rock Center With Brian Williams” at 10p/9c. Rice had been viewed as one of the front-runners to replace Hillary Clinton as the nation’s top foreign policy official.
As far as sword-falling goes, that's a pretty solid performance. In an interview with Brian Williams, Rice says she's "saddened" by the fierce partisanship that she believes torpedoed her would-be nomination. More or less saddened than by what happened in Benghazi, I wonder? It's possible that she simply wasn't looking forward to answering any of these questions during contentious confirmation hearings, so she chose to step aside. It's equally possible (if not more so) that the White House was decidedly uninterested in Benghazi returning to the headlines, and made Rice keenly aware of that sentiment. If Obama's political team is responsible for nudging Rice out of the running, does that make them sexist racists? Or were they merely reacting to the unfortunate climate fostered by the true sexist racists? And where do liberal critics of Rice's temperament and other baggage fit into the "-ism" extravaganza? We may never know. So, who's ready for Secretary of State John Kerry? He's the clear front-runner and would sail through the confirmation process if nominated, despite all of this. If that eventuality does come to pass, who's excited for special election Senate candidate Scott Brown again?
UPDATE II - Ten bucks says that every time his phone rings, Kerry silently prays that it's Obama calling, then answers: "I'm John Kerry, and I'm reporting for duty."
UPDATE III - Obama accepts Rice's letter with "deep regret:"
“While I deeply regret the unfair and misleading attacks on Susan Rice in recent weeks, her decision demonstrates the strength of her character, and an admirable commitment to rise above the politics of the moment to put our national interests first,” Obama said. “The American people can be proud to have a public servant of her caliber and character representing our country.”
Please explain why the attacks have been unfair and misleading, Mr. President. And are you referring to Republican critics alone, or fellow liberals who didn't think she has what it takes to serve in that position? Now that Rice has played the good soldier, she'll certainly end up with a very soft landing, either with a plum gig within the administration (one without a Senate confirmation requirement), or in a lucrative job within the Democratic private sector network. Not that she needs the money -- she and her husband are worth tens of millions; some of which they invested in...the Keystone Pipeline. Anyone else get the sense that Benghazi is only a small part of the picture here?
UPDATE IV - This is absolutely spot on:
It's very weird that the most senior official to pay a price for Benghazi is the UN Ambassador who wasn't actually involve[d] in it. #Teflon— DrewM (@DrewMTips) December 13, 2012
Obama himself said Rice knew nothing about the situation on the ground in Benghazi (which begged the question of why she was the one sent out to regurgiate false talking points). Now, when Republicans -- or anyone, for that matter -- continue to ask questions about the attack, liberals will sneer about how conservatives already "claimed their scalp" on the issue. This will expose their ongoing category error; they see Benghazi as a political football. Others see it as an outrage that remains unresolved.
UPDATE V - Senators McCain and Graham say Rice's withdrawal won't slow the Benghazi investigations.