Ninety-seven Republicans in the House have signed a letter telling President Obama that he shouldn't appoint United Nations Ambassador Susan Rice to succeed Hillary Clinton as secretary of state. These conservative lawmakers argue that Rice threw her credibility into question by saying shortly after Sept. 11 that the deadly Benghazi attack appeared to be a spontaneous assault rather than a planned terrorist strike. Members of the House don't have any role in approving cabinet appointments — it's the Senate that has to confirm them — but two powerful GOP senators, John McCain and Lindsey Graham, have vowed to block Rice's confirmation if Obama nominates her. Obama forcefully defended Rice in his first news conference since re-election, saying that she'd only passed on the best intelligence assessments available at the time, a view supported by Senate Intelligence Committee Chairwoman Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.). Is the GOP battle against Rice misguided, or legitimate?
Republicans will regret their deluded attacks: Rice had "absolutely nothing" to do with Benghazi, says Michael Tomasky at The Daily Beast. She "was just being a good team player" by sharing the latest intelligence reports. Republicans are trying to take the newly re-elected Obama down a peg by getting "Rice's scalp." But in the end, Republicans will only compound their problems with women and minority voters if McCain filibusters Obama's black, female ambassador over this "absurd" criticism.
"The GOP's absurd atack on Susan Rice over Benghazi"
The GOP is right to push back against Rice: Obama has been using Rice as "a shield to deflect growing criticism" of his foreign policy in the Arab world, says Neil Munro at The Daily Caller. But Benghazi provided fresh evidence that his attempts to "undermine the Arab jihadi groups" by reaching out to Islamic political parties aren't working. And House Republicans can foil Obama by showing that Rice helped "cover up al Qaeda's role" in Benghazi.
"Obama's defense of Ambassador Susan Rice lures GOP fire"
This fight is risky for both sides: "If this is the fight Republicans want to pick," says Jay Newton-Small at TIME, the optics of "old white guys hectoring an African-American woman" definitely favor the White House. Still, Rice's confirmation hearings would rehash criticism of the administration's handling of Benghazi, raising questions about "whether Obama dropped the ball," and whether Rice "tried to cover up the missteps by blaming it on a protest that spiraled out of control."
"The pros and cons of picking Susan Rice for State"