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What the Susan Rice pick says about Obama
Hint: He's still convinced Benghazi is no big deal, even though it is
 
President Obama walks with Susan Rice (center) and her successor Samantha Power after announcing a change in personnel on June 5.
President Obama walks with Susan Rice (center) and her successor Samantha Power after announcing a change in personnel on June 5. Alex Wong/Getty Images

Susan Rice just got a promotion.

Let me repeat: Susan Rice, the embattled United States ambassador to the United Nations who went on national television as the administration's… misinformed spokesperson in the aftermath of the Sept. 11, 2012, terrorist attacks on the American consultate in Benghazi, Libya, is about to become our nation's national security advisor.

I will not contend that Ambassador Rice is not qualified. She has served her country faithfully in a variety of very important positions and has repeatedly demonstrated her intelligence and ability in those various capacities. I'm sure she will make an adequate national security advisor.

The real problem with Rice's appointment has to do with President Obama and his apparent disinterest in the opinions of anyone who does not share his very specific perspective of who and what matters. The president has consistently essentially sneered at anyone who suggests that the administration's handling of the crisis in Benghazi was in fact a big deal. He sent that message when he began an ill-fated push to make Ambassador Rice secretary of state, despite her role in the administration's mishandling of the Benghazi fiasco.

The president could, can, and should be forgiven for periodically rolling his eyes at the manner in which Republicans are investigating what happened last September. Hearing some of the talk on Fox News, you might think that it is the worst government cover-up since Watergate. Of course, it is not. But the president is also badly mistaken if he thinks that the administration's response to Benghazi is only a big deal because Republicans are making it so.

The evidence to date suggests, at best, that the administration badly mismanaged the situation in Libya and ignored and/or withheld important information from the American public. That is not a big deal because Republicans say it is a big deal. It is simply a big deal. Which is exactly why a survey conducted last week found that 58 percent of respondents said they believe the State Department's handling of the Benghazi attack raises either major or minor doubts about the Obama administration's honesty and integrity.

Of course, the same survey showed that the number of Americans who trust Obama is holding relatively steady. But the decision to appoint a woman who the administration sent out to provide what we now know was factually incorrect material on a matter of major national security importance conveys the degree to which the president does not hold himself or his administration accountable for its own failures. Whether the deceit was intentional or not is beside the point: The administration failed in the wake of what happened in Benghazi. Had the president accepted that he and his administration failed, or even considered the possibility that the critics might have a point, he would never have promoted a woman who played a role in that failure.

 
Jeb Golinkin is a graduate of the University of Texas School of Law and writes about U.S. politics and policy for TheWeek.com. From 2008 to 2011, he served as an editor and reporter for Frum Forum/New Majority. Email him at jgolinkin@gmail.com.

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