Maureen Dowd on Susan Rice

A tip of the Editor’s hat to Gretchen for the story.

Is Rice Cooked?

By  | Published: November 17, 2012

(Washington) Our Rice is better than your Rice.

That’s the argument Democrats are aggressively making against Republicans.

And it’s true. Condi Rice sold her soul. Susan Rice merely rented hers on the talk shows one Sunday in September.

Ambitious to be secretary of state, Condi jilted her mentor, Brent Scowcroft, who publicly opposed the Iraq invasion. In 2002, she bolted to the winning, warmongering side with W., Dick Cheney and Donald Rumsfeld, helping them twist intelligence and getting Foggy Bottom in return.

Ambitious to be secretary of state, Susan Rice wanted to prove she had the gravitas for the job and help out the White House. So the ambassador to the United Nations agreed to a National Security Council request to go on all five Sunday shows to talk about the attack on the American consulate in Libya.

“She saw this as a great opportunity to go out and close the stature gap,” said one administration official. “She was focused on the performance, not the content. People said, ‘It’s sad because it was one of her best performances.’ But it’s not a movie, it’s the news. Everyone in politics thinks, you just get your good talking points and learn them and reiterate them on camera. But what if they’re not good talking points? What if what you’re saying isn’t true, even if you’re saying it well?”

As one would expect, Miss Dowd got her facts wrong. She wrote that President Bush, Vice President Cheney and Secretary of Defense Rumsfeld “twist(ed) intelligence” concerning possible weapons of mass destruction in Iraq, as though it is some sort of established fact. As it happens, your Editor bought and reviewed the book by Valerie Plame Wilson, the exposed CIA operations officer, Fair Game: My Life as a Spy, My Betrayal by the White House, and in it noted that the CIA agent who had the greatest reason to hate President Bush and his Administration told the readers that in her branch, the Counterproliferation Division within the Directorate of Operations, the Agency believed that Iraq had WMD at the time.1

But Miss Dowd’s article gets more amusing as it goes forward. She had tried to claim that Dr Condoleezza Rice had “sold her soul” to obtain the job of being Secretary of State — ignoring the fact that she was already the Assistant to the President for National Security Affairs, a top-level job, that there were two more years left in President Bush’s first term, and that the then-current Secretary, Colin Powell, was not about to be fired — when it turns out that the President and his minions were busy hanging Ambassador Rice out to dry.

Some have wondered if Rice, who has a bull-in-a-china-shop reputation, is diplomatic enough for the top diplomatic job. But she would have been wise to be more bull-in-a-china-shop and vet her talking points, given that members of the intelligence and diplomatic communities and sources in news accounts considered it a terrorist attack days before Rice went on the shows. (The president and his spokesman also clung to the video story for too long.)

Rice should have been wary of a White House staff with a tendency to gild the lily, with her pal Valerie Jarrett and other staffers zealous about casting the president in a more flattering light, like national security officials filigreeing the story of the raid on Osama to say Bin Laden fought back. Did administration officials foolishly assume that if affiliates of Al Qaeda were to blame, it would dilute the credit the president got for decimating Al Qaeda? Were aides overeager to keep Mitt Romney, who had stumbled after the Benghazi attack by accusing the president of appeasing Islamic extremists, on the defensive?

The lovely Miss Dowd then tells us that the President has both harmed Ambassador Rice’s reputation, and may feel compelled to appoint her to succeed retiring Secretary Hillary Clinton, just to prove that he can’t be pushed around. “Their” Dr Rice would probably be better served if she declined such an appointment, because if John McCain and Lindsey Lohan Graham, two of the more centrist Republicans in the Senate, and members of the so-called “Gang of 14” are inclined to filibuster her nomination, she will not be confirmed.

  1. This is documented extensively in the linked book review.

Comments are closed.