UN Ambassador Susan Rice has become another casualty of the nasty dysfunctional street brawl that politics in Washington has become, sending President Obama a letter today withdrawing her name from consideration as his next Secretary of State.
With her distinguished career reduced to some comments she made during Sunday morning talk shows in September about the terrorist attack in Benghazi, Rice has removed herself from a confirmation fight that was obviously going to be bitter and potentially harmful to the president and his agenda. Rice will keep her job as UN Ambassador.
In her letter to President Obama, Rice said she could have done the job “ably and effectively,” but added that “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.”
Obama praised Rice in a statement released by the White House, but he took the opportunity to criticize the “unfair and misleading attacks” on her by Senate Republicans and others over the Sept. 11 attack on the U.S. consulate in Benghazi, Libya.
“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. “Today, I spoke to Ambassador Susan Rice, and accepted her decision to remove her name from consideration for Secretary of State. For two decades, Susan has proven to be an extraordinarily capable, patriotic, and passionate public servant.”
“As my Ambassador to the United Nations, she plays an indispensable role in advancing America’s interests. Already, she has secured international support for sanctions against Iran and North Korea, worked to protect the people of Libya, helped achieve an independent South Sudan, stood up for Israel’s security and legitimacy, and served as an advocate for UN reform and the human rights of all people.
“I am grateful that Susan will continue to serve as our Ambassador at the United Nations and a key member of my cabinet and national security team, carrying her work forward on all of these and other issues. I have every confidence that Susan has limitless capability to serve our country now and in the years to come, and know that I will continue to rely on her as an advisor and friend.”
Just last week it appeared that Rice was gaining some momentum in her possible bid to be elevated to the Secretary of State job.
Illinois Sen. Dick Durbin said on Sunday that he believed she would win approval by the Senate—if President Obama nominated her.
Durbin, the Senate Majority Whip, made his comments on NBC’s “Meet the Press,” where he predicted that she would be able to get the nomination because all the Democrats and some Republicans would vote in favor of her—despite the vocal attack against her by Republican Senators John McCain of Arizona and Lindsey Graham of South Carolina and a coalition of 97 House Republicans sending a letter to Obama saying they opposed her nomination (though members of the House don’t get a vote on presidential cabinet nominees).
Durbin called Rice an “extraordinary person” and said, “Some of the criticisms against her have been unwarranted.”
Meanwhile several prominent Jewish leaders have expressed their support for Rice, saying she has long been a strong and vigorous defender of Israel.
“She has proven herself as an ardent defender of major Israeli positions in an unfriendly forum,” Abraham Foxman, the Anti-Defamation League’s national director, told the Jerusalem Post. “And I’m more comfortable with the person I know than the person I don’t know. She is close to the president and that’s important in that position if you have someone you can relate to and understands us.”
A leading U.S. diplomat, John Prendergast, who worked for Presidents Clinton and Bush, penned a forceful defense of Rice for Politico, calling her “a consummate diplomat who fought fiercely for American interests and who promoted a global vision of U.S. partnership with Africa that benefited real people on both sides of the ocean.”