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Susan Rice is President Obama’s call to make for Secretary of State

Earl Ofari Hutchinson | 11/28/2012, 7:52 a.m.

Susan Rice is President Obama’s call to make for Secretary of State

GOP house members are following a horrid precedent in trying to torpedo the possible nomination of Susan Rice for Secretary of State.

The precedent was laid down by their Senate counterparts who dithered, delayed and flat out obstructed Obama’s nominees. The most glaring example of this is their stonewalling of Obama’s judicial picks. They ensured that Obama almost had fewer of his judicial picks confirmed than any other president in recent times.

The GOP’s blatant partisan stonewall of Obama’s nominees was too much even for Supreme Court Chief Justice John Roberts, who publicly lambasted GOP Senators for their obstructionism.

So given the GOP’s dogged pattern of naysaying too many of Obama’s picks, it’s no surprise that the GOP would go after Rice. Her alleged duplicity in handling the terrorist Benghazi assault is the ostensible reason nearly 100 House members who have no say in Rice’s confirmation want her dumped before she’s potentially picked by Obama for Secretary of State consideration.

Rice has plenty of defenders. The Congressional Black Caucus, a bevy of other House Democrats and women’s groups loudly brand the GOP attack on Rice as racist and sexist. And more than a few have noted that the GOP seems to take special delight in targeting high-profile African Americans for pillorying. The names are well-known: Attorney General Eric Holder, Van Jones, Special Advisor Valerie Jarrett, and even Shirley Sherrod, an Agriculture Department official. And now Rice.

Though race can never be discounted in the GOP’s calculations to hammer Obama and Democrats, it’s probably not the driving force to nail Rice. The motive is Obama. The GOP, reeling from its election defeat, simply pulled a page from the playbook it used in 2008 to try and taint Obama. Then it went after Holder and dredged up every innuendo, hint and piece of alleged wrongdoing by Holder as Clinton’s Deputy Attorney General to try and wreck his confirmation, even before he was formally nominated. It didn’t work. Obama nominated Holder and he was confirmed.

Rice’s credentials for Secretary of State are impeccable. She is a seasoned diplomat, foreign affairs expert, and has gotten high marks for protecting U.S. interests and fighting for global and humanitarian concerns at the UN. Her experience ensures that the administration will have continuity in implementing its foreign policy initiatives.

As UN ambassador, Rice has dealt first-hand with the enormous challenges of the Middle East conflict, Syria’s civil war, and North Korea, and Iran’s nuclear threat. These are the same challenges that Obama’s Secretary of State will face in the coming months. These are touchy, sensitive issues that demand a firm leader at the state department.

Obama ironically has an immediate precedent for appointing Rice to the job. That’s the Bush Administration’s appointment of Condoleezza Rice. When Colin Powell announced that he would step down from the top diplomatic post after Bush’s reelection, Bush quickly picked Rice to replace him. Rice guaranteed continuity in handling Bush’s foreign policy matters. Bush ignored the protests from some quarters that Condoleezza Rice was deeply complicit in propagating Bush’s phony claim that Iraq had weapons of mass destruction and her part in selling the notion that the Iraq war had to be waged to eliminate them.