Susan Rice's 'worst week' could derail Secretary of State bid
As critics go after her comments on the Benghazi terrorist attack, Susan Rice's race, gender, and personality have become part of the debate over whether she should be the next Secretary of State. Even those who might have supported her are floating other names.
Should President Obama nominate Susan Rice to be the next Secretary of State – and her loyal boss may have been pushed into doing so by the clatter of Senate Republicans eager to prevent that – Ambassador Rice already will have undergone a blistering public vetting.Skip to next paragraph
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Her race, her gender, her personality, and her personal investments – none of which have anything to do with her now-controversial comments shortly after the terrorist attack on the US consulate in Benghazi, Libya, in September – have been raised and chewed over by advocates and commentators.
We have learned, for example (courtesy of Scott Dodd, editor of OnEarth.org), that Rice “holds significant investments in more than a dozen Canadian oil companies and banks that would stand to benefit from expansion of the North American tar sands industry and construction of the proposed $7 billion Keystone XL pipeline.”
“If confirmed by the Senate,” Mr. Dodd notes, “one of Rice’s first duties likely would be consideration, and potentially approval, of the controversial mega-project.”
Meanwhile, the Washington Post reports, Rice and her husband “own modest stakes in companies that have until recently done business with Iran,” including oil companies. (So has Sen. John McCain, Rice’s chief inquisitor, by the way.)
Rice, according to the Center for Responsive Politics, is one of the richest members of the Obama Cabinet. (Her father owned a lumber company in British Columbia, and her husband is a former television producer.) She and her husband were worth between $23.5 million and $43.5 million in 2009, the Post reports.
Starting with columnist Dana Milbank two weeks ago, a growing number of pundits – including some who otherwise support her – have cited Rice’s frequently undiplomatic demeanor and abrasive temperament as problematic. It is noted that she once gave the late diplomat Richard Holbrook (he of no small ego) a rude, middle-digit gesture – “which suggests, if nothing else, moxie,” writes the Atlantic magazine’s Jeffrey Goldberg.
But all this talk about Rice’s prickliness and sharp elbows smacks of sexism to many.
“Why is she called abrasive, when clearly, similar toughness was hailed in our most powerful and respected secretaries of state – from Henry Kissinger to George Shultz to James Baker?” writes David Rothkopf, CEO and Editor-at-Large of Foreign Policy magazine. “All had their battles. Even reputedly smooth diplomats like Cyrus Vance and Warren Christopher could be all elbows behind the scenes.”