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Who Is Susan Rice?


I have known Susan Rice for decades. We worked together in the '80s. I followed her career in the '90s. She served her country with intelligence and integrity during the Clinton administration and for the past four years as our country's representative to the United Nations.

So why are Republicans making (very loud) noises about a bruising confirmation battle should the president choose his trusted aide to serve as secretary of state?

I've seen two reasons.

First and most significantly: because of what she said on a television show. Not because of anything she did wrong at the United Nations. Not because she stood before the United Nations and claimed we had proof of weapons of mass destruction (we didn't). Not because she presided over the 1983 massacre of 220 Marines that an investigation concluded might have resulted in fewer deaths had there been something more than barbed wire and guards carrying unloaded weapons at the post. That was Ronald Reagan, re-elected a year later.

Rice went on a television show. She misspoke on a television show. She followed the talking points. If misspeaking on a Sunday television show were grounds for not serving in high office, if repeating talking points were a fatal offense, Washington would be empty tomorrow.

Besides, no one is contending that Rice was responsible for security in Libya, that Rice did the investigation, that this was a United Nations issue. If John McCain wanted to go after someone, the "logical" person would be the most popular politician in America: Hillary Clinton. But that would be political hara-kiri. So he picks on a woman who has yet to build the kind of constituency that made people like Colin Powell (wmd's) and Reagan untouchable.

The other rap on Rice, trumpeted in the press more than in the Senate, is that she is "difficult" — too tenacious, too harsh, picks fights.

Gee. I've never met a politician like that. I've never seen a powerful man who is rude, difficult, harsh and demanding. In my research, men who behave like that tend to be considered aggressive and commanding. Women are "difficult." In my experience and research, every successful woman over the age of 40, especially those on the younger side like Rice, is considered "difficult."

Has Rice made mistakes? Yes. Has she learned from these mistakes? Almost certainly. Do the worst of the incidents being bandied about now date from years ago? Yes. Were it not for Benghazi, would Republicans really be claiming that this was disqualifying?

Is this even an accurate description of the ambassador? Not based on my experience. Back in 2000, one of my very conservative colleagues made a mistake in an interview with Rice that could easily, and not unfairly, be denounced as racist. There were, at the time, two African-American women with the last name of "Rice" who were dealing with foreign policy issues. Susan Rice and Condi Rice do not look alike, work for the same party or have the same views, and are not otherwise easily confused. I introduced her to one of the Fox brass, and the two of us apologized profusely. She laughed it off, saying she was far more interested in substantive debate than playing the race card.

I would not call her difficult. I would call her classy, informed, intelligent and committed — precisely the sort of person we need in government.

A witch-hunt over this fine woman would send the message loud and clear that the best and the brightest should look elsewhere to shine. Our loss.

To find out more about Susan Estrich and read features by other Creators Syndicate writers and cartoonists, visit the Creators Syndicate website at



13 Comments | Post Comment
This fine woman may well be a sacrificial lamb. If she sincerely believed the talking points she was reading from, and she read them correctly, who, then, was pretending a video caused the problem? And it was not just one Sunday TV show, as Estrich knows perfectly well.

Something here is fishy.
Comment: #1
Posted by: Plain Jane
Thu Nov 29, 2012 10:45 PM
If this happened during the Bush administration the liberals would want her hung for war crimes.
Comment: #2
Posted by: Liam Astlel
Fri Nov 30, 2012 3:51 AM
Who is Susan Rice let me tell the truth.

Rice is a congenital liar who on behalf of the reprobate Bill Clinton ( not the "Miss Piggy" like doormat Hilary Clinton), first lied the public on the issues of ethnic cleansing and genocide in Africa, who has missed several key votes in the wholly corrupt anti America UN, has utterly failed to oppose nations with horrific human rights records in their successful bids to head up key U.N. committees, has hopelessly failed to properly oppose Iran's march to nuclear capability or to oppose China's muscle flexing in the East China Sea.

She is another lying incompetent America hating radical who as a reward for lying repeatedly re Benghazi is in line for appointment to Sec of State by the America hater and liar in chief obama.

Her record of shameful political cronyism is now smeared with the blood of four Americans that was spilt by obama.

Her defenders are trying to make this about her race and gender and are doing so because loyalty to America is always trumped by loyalty to a corrupt dishonest deceitful president who has yet to explain his role in abandoning a US Ambassador and others in their time of greatest need and then lying repeatedly about it.
Comment: #3
Posted by: joseph wright
Fri Nov 30, 2012 4:51 AM
Ms. Estrich stated: "A witch-hunt over this fine woman would send the message loud and clear that the best and the brightest should look elsewhere to shine. Our loss."

I'll send a note along to Judge Bork. I'm sure he'll sympathize with her.

Seriously, you are just now worrying about this kind of activity? In my adult lifetime politics has become an extremely rough sport and destroying an individuals reputation is one of the most common tactics (e.g., Bork, Kerry's Vietnam record, Sarah Palin, etc...). Why didn't you raise this topic during the demonization of the most recent Republican presidential nomiinee? An administration that uses character assassination as a political tool shouldn't complain when similar ammunition gets shot back at it. But don't worry Ms. Estrich, there will be plenty of similar innocent casulaties during the next Republican administration.
Comment: #4
Posted by: Old Navy
Fri Nov 30, 2012 4:57 AM
Susan Rice lied to Americans and she's wise enough to know she was not telling the truth. She therefore lacks personal principles and should not be rewarded with a job above her ability!
Comment: #5
Posted by: Oldtimer
Fri Nov 30, 2012 5:44 AM
Re: Old Navy
You miss the point. What happened to Kerry and the criticism of Rice was not/ is not character assassination.
It was for Kerry and is for Rice simply the plain telling of the truth about a kept man ( Kerry) who lied in order to falsely receive military decoration, who lied about his fellow veterans and for whom the only target rich environment is a room full of wealthy widows and an incompetent liar and disgrace to the post she currently occupies (Rice) and who is simply not qualified or competent to hold the office of Sec of State because of her self demonstrated propensity for political cronyism and utter dishonesty.

With Bork and Romney it was premeditated character assignation by the spreading of what were known to be manufactured lies by lying liars, to wit, all Democrats and their politburo accomplices.
Comment: #6
Posted by: joseph wright
Fri Nov 30, 2012 6:19 AM
Many people serve faithfully but what did she actually accomplish? She decided to let herself be placed in this position. Did she never question why she was the one going on those shows since she, as Susan states, was not responsible for security in Libya? She knew full well that she was going out to put out the politically expedient line that would help her boss in the election. She knew that if every bought the lie she could be the next Sec State. Unfortunately she rolled the dice and lost. We should not reward people who lie or are incompetent enough not to know the difference between cronyism and patriotism.

What the Republican really want to do is go after Hilary Clinton, who really was responsible, or President Obama, who should have not used this incident as election ploy, but those cowards let Rice take the heat.
Comment: #7
Posted by: david
Fri Nov 30, 2012 7:56 AM
Joseph Wright wrote:"You miss the point. What happened to Kerry and the criticism of Rice was not/ is not character assassination. "

I think you missed my point. I expressed no opinion on the causes of Ms. Wrights problems. SEN Kerry is a bit more complicated.

I'm no great fan of SEN Kerry. I certainly didn't vote for him. However, I don't agree that he deserved the trashing he received for his service IN Vietnam. He, in fact, did serve in the military at a time when many were trying to stay out. He did serve in Vietnam at a time when almost no one wished to go there. He was, in fact, in combat. His medals may have been a bit tainted, but he received them at a time when the awarding of such medals and citations was greatly diluted. Do we really want to go back and look at all the medals awarded back then? Would his detractors (The Swift Boat Vets) stand up under the same scrutiny? Second guessing this kind of stuff after 30+ years is pointless and likely harmful (You only have to look at the sad end of ADM Boorda to see that).

That having been said, I do think the criticism of his post service statements regarding the Vietnam War and Vietnam veterans was justified. How the man and his staff could think that these topics wouldn't come up in a national election and their not having a well prepared defense still amazes me. Here SEN Kerry got what he deserved.
Comment: #8
Posted by: Old Navy
Fri Nov 30, 2012 8:33 AM
No US official has the right to lie to the American people. As smart as Ms. Rice is, the whole world agrees that she didn't tell the truth about what caused the murder of the United States ambassador and three other Americans at the Benghazi consul. She told a false story five different times on five different television programs to a national audience. For a smart person she acted pretty dumb.

If Ms. Rice knew the story was false then, rather than just being dumb or hard to believe, she is actually a liar. Reports now say that she was informed that terrorists might have done the killing at Benghazi. More importantly, it is reported she knew that the reference to terrorists had been edited out of the talking points which she went on to deliver on television. So she knew or should have known that her story was false. Deliberately telling a false story and representing it as true is telling a lie.

Equal justice. No administration may tell lies. I'm sorry that Ms. Estrich won't see her friend as Secretary of State, but there's more to good government than simply knowing influential people in high places.
Comment: #9
Posted by: Cowboy Jay
Fri Nov 30, 2012 8:58 AM
Re: Old Navy

Kerry was not trashed for is service in Viet Nam, Kerry trashed service in Viet Nam, he trashed the service of his fellow veterans, he trashed the idea of decoration for valor by (a) lying about his own actions and (b) by throwing away the decorations of another man in order to deceive that he was throwing away the decorations he falsely received and he then trashed the United Sates in general.

Kerry is said to be in line for the post of Secretary ort State or Secretary of Defence. A nomination of Kerry for either of these Offices would be an outright and deliberate insult to the Office.

Any such nomination should be vehemently opposed and for the same reason that any nomination of Rice should be opposed, to wit, the dishonesty and moral turpitude displayed regularly by each.
Comment: #10
Posted by: joseph wright
Sat Dec 1, 2012 2:01 PM
The easy (or perhaps not so easy) solution to the controversy here is for the Obama Admin to explain exactly how the "mis-communications" occurred. Maybe it was because of legitimate mistakes.

How about the Admin telling us in the spirit of openness its findings as to how this happened? Surely they have investigated and don't want this to happen again. The allowance of continuing mystery about what should not be a mystery kind of invites skepticism, doesn't it?
Comment: #11
Posted by: Masako
Sun Dec 2, 2012 7:37 PM
why doesnt she just take a lie detector test and so why doesnt obama take a lie dectector test yeah thats what i thought. or the truth in america wow wouldnt that be a miracle hahhahahaha. ungodly nation ungodly leaders case closed.
Comment: #12
Posted by: steve servello
Mon Dec 3, 2012 9:45 AM
A lie detector test is unbecoming of our nations leaders. We just assume they are always lying. Honestly, if we knew a tiny fraction of the stuff they keep covered up, we'd form an angry mob and overthrew them. Or at least try.
Comment: #13
Posted by: Chris McCoy
Mon Dec 3, 2012 3:26 PM
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