The GOP's Acceptance of Susan Rice, in 5 Stages

J.K. Trotter
The GOP's Acceptance of Susan Rice, in 5 Stages

Today feels like 2012 all over again: Conservative leaders and critics are once again focusing their attention on U.N. Ambassador Susan Rice, who many still believe deliberately misled Americans about the attacks in Benghazi last September. Despite withdrawing her name from consideration for Secretary of State in December, and having her name cleared by a trove of Benghazi-related emails released in May, Rice reoccupied the center of controversy on Wednesday, following reports that President Obama will appoint her to replace Tom Donilon as the White House's national security advisor. This time, however, the right is beginning to drop their defenses much more quickly — perhaps because there's no confirmation process for her new position, and there's nothing much they can ultimately do about it. Here's a guide, still with plenty of anger but ultimately acceptance, to that transformation in the making:

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Stage 1: But Rice Lied About Benghazi!

This stage is self-explanatory:

Rice appointment is a powerful statement that puts rogue YouTube videomakers around the globe on notice.

— Jonah Goldberg (@JonahNRO) June 5, 2013

If #SusanRice had only been #NationalSecurityAdvisor during the Boston bombing, we would have already figured out it was because of a video.

— Brad Thor (@BradThor) June 5, 2013

Susan Rice is a great appointment. The administration really needs someone who's good on the Sunday chat shows.

— John Podhoretz (@jpodhoretz) June 5, 2013

The Washington Post's Jennifer Rubin:

Ambassador to the United Nations Susan Rice, who leapt from dishonest talking points to out and out falsehoods (it was a spontaneous attack sparked by an anti-Muslim narrative!) on the Benghazi attack, gets her reward today — a promotion to national security adviser. 

Stage 2: But Rice is Incompetent!

In other words, there's no scandal-scandal, but she's a bad choice based on her merits (more about that here):

Susan Rice, failing up.

— Mary Kissel (@marykissel) June 5, 2013

Making Susan Rice National Security Advisor means no one can take what President Obama says about national security at his word.

— Amanda Carpenter (@amandacarpenter) June 5, 2013

The problem with putting SusanRice in charge of our national security is that she has been a weak advocate. Benghazi shows she reads points.

— Richard Grenell (@RichardGrenell) June 5, 2013

God forbid there is another terror attack on American soil. #Obama will have HELL to pay if #SusanRice is the top national security advisor.

— Brad Thor (@BradThor) June 5, 2013

Rubin, in the same post:

It is noteworthy that President Obama did not have the nerve to nominate her for secretary of state, where she would have faced an onslaught of questions about her infamous Sunday talk show performance.

Stage 3: Obama Just Wants Revenge!

Since Rice's new position doesn't require Senate confirmation, of course Obama chose Rice to get back at Republicans for attacking her last fall:

Obama sets a trap by naming Rice and Power to top jobs. If Republicans criticize his picks, he'll accuse them of a war on women.

— Fred Barnes (@FredBarnes) June 5, 2013

Republican can complain about Susan Rice all they want, but it doesn't matter: no Senate confirmation needed for National Security Advisor

— Jonathan Karl (@jonkarl) June 5, 2013

WH offil tells Fox -Tom Donilon resigning as nat security adviser. Susan Rice will get the job-does not need Sen confirmation for this post

— Bret Baier (@BretBaier) June 5, 2013

The natl. security advisor job does not need Senate confirmation; Rice's move to White House could be an "up yours" gesture to GOP by POTUS

— West Wing Reports (@WestWingReport) June 5, 2013

Rubin, again:

The move is an in-your-face insult to Congress, to the Americans killed in Benghazi and their families and another instance of utterly incompetent, dishonest loyalists getting the really big jobs (e.g. Chuck Hagel).

Stage 4: Resignation

Well, they tried:

Amb Rice did a disservice to the nation when she made misleading stmts abt #Benghazi.However, its POTUS' call & I'll work with her going fwd

— Kelly Ayotte (@KellyAyotte) June 5, 2013

To be honest, we would be safer with Susan Rice at State. Putting her in charge of protecting us is a very scary idea.

— Richard Grenell (@RichardGrenell) June 5, 2013

Obviously I disagree w/ POTUS appointment of Susan Rice as Nat'l Security Adviser, but I'll make every effort to work w/ her on imp't issues

— John McCain (@SenJohnMcCain) June 5, 2013

Corker, top R on Foreign Relations, withholds criticism of Rice, says he had "very good" conversation with her and wants to work together

— Manu Raju (@mkraju) June 5, 2013


The temptation is great for Republicans to lash out at people unconnected to or blameless in the Benghazi fiasco because they can’t get to the people really responsible (e.g. the president, the current and future national security advisers, Hillary Clinton). But we should have little patience with such behavior.

Stage 5: Acceptance, or, Let's Change the Subject!

It's really time to move on:

Obama's pro-Israel record in second term: Hagel for SecDef, Power for UN Ambassador, Rice to NSA. Well done, Jewish Democrats.

— Ben Shapiro (@benshapiro) June 5, 2013

The Russians are loving the appointment of Rice. They have been out-negotiating her for years.

— Richard Grenell (@RichardGrenell) June 5, 2013

what i like the most about the rice/power appointments is the commitment it shows president obama has to new ideas and outside perspectives

— Logan Dobson (@LoganDobson) June 5, 2013

Rubin, one last time:

By the way, where is the subpoena to demand Clinton’s and David Petraeus’s testimony?

(Both Clinton and Petraeus have testified about the Benghazi attacks.)