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Susan Rice Withdraws Her Name From Consideration As Secretary Of State

U.N. Ambassador Susan Rice has taken herself out of the running to replace Hillary Clinton at the State Department:

United Nations Ambassador Susan Rice has pulled her name out of consideration for nomination as the next secretary of state.

“If nominated, 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,” Rice wrote in a letter to President Obama obtained by NBC News. ”That trade-off is simply not worth it to our country…Therefore, I respectfully request that you no longer consider my candidacy at this time.”

Rice has come under sustained criticismfrom Republicans both for her handling of questions about the attack on a U.S. diplomatic outpost in Benghazi.

President Obama responded in a statement of his own, saying that he is “grateful” that Rice will continue to serve as ambassador to the United Nations and as a “key member” of his national security team.

In a lot of ways this is not a surprise. The criticism of Rice over her handling of the Benghazi attacks, as well as other matters, was not dying down at all and even moderate Republicans like Susan Collins were expressing skepticism over the idea of Rice being nominated for Secretary of State. Had the President put her name forward, it’s clear that her nomination would have ended up being a long inquiry into all of these matters, and the threat of a Republican filibuster of the nomination would mean that there would be no smooth transition in America’s top diplomatic post at a time when there are numerous crises brewing around the world.

This would seem to guarantee that President Obama will name Senator John Kerry to fill the Secretary of State position. He was the name being mentioned most often alongside Rice’s since Election Day, and there really doesn’t seem to be anyone else on the short list at this point. Of course, picking Kerry means an open Senate seat in Massachusetts and a possible comeback for Scott Brown.

As for Rice herself, she could stay at the United Nations if that’s where the President wants her but there is speculation that she may end up as National Security Adviser, a position which does not require Senate confirmation.

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About Doug Mataconis
Doug holds a B.A. in Political Science from Rutgers University and J.D. from George Mason University School of Law. He joined the staff of OTB in May, 2010 and also writes at Below The Beltway. Follow Doug on Twitter | Facebook

Comments

  1. Tsar Nicholas says:

    Probably the best result all the way around, given the horrific alternatives.

    Putting Susan Rice in charge of State was tantamount to making Jon Corzine head of the SEC. Meanwhile John Kerry at DOD would have been akin to Jane Fonda at DOD. Might as well have just chugged the Hemlock and have been done with it.

    Now Kerry can head over to State, where he’ll be a disaster, granted, but where he’ll do far less damage. And if we survived Tom Donilon as NSA then ipso facto we can survive Susan Rice as NSA.

    Poorly-rated. Helpful or Unhelpful: Thumb up 6 Thumb down 31

  2. Geek, Esq. says:

    The Republican goal all along was to temper tantrum their way into getting a vacancy for the Massachusetts Senate seat, with Fox News riding shotgun.

    They got their scalp.

    Hopefully, the administration will give them an extra twist of the knife in fiscal negotiations.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 15 Thumb down 3

  3. Anderson says:

    Well good, Obama has the support of the Tsar Nicholases out there. Great move, Obama!

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 4 Thumb down 0

  4. Geek, Esq. says:

    @Anderson:

    It very well could be that Rice simply was not willing to go through that circus of a nomination process. Who could blame her?

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 11 Thumb down 2

  5. Aidan says:

    I’m still not sure why Scott Brown would want to run again in a special election for Kerry’s seat when he’d be up for reelection again in 2014. I know he still has a fresh campaign infrastructure but does he really want to run four Senate campaigns in four years?

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 5 Thumb down 0

  6. rudderpedals says:

    Any legal impediments for Bill Clinton as Secretary of State?

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 11 Thumb down 1

  7. Rafer Janders says:

    The criticism of Rice over her handling of the Benghazi attacks,

    What are you talking about? Rice is the UN Ambassador. She had no role in “handling” the Benghazi attack (attack singular, not multiple attacks as you have it), only in acting as an administration spokesperson in discussing the matter several days later.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 13 Thumb down 2

  8. Rafer Janders says:

    @rudderpedals:

    Any legal impediments for Bill Clinton as Secretary of State?

    None, but, sadly, I don’t think the Big Dog can handle the physical demands of the job, given his heart condition. Too much travelling over too many time zones.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 4 Thumb down 0

  9. Brummagem Joe says:

    I’m sure Obama will get even over this. Being the NSA is almost as important as being SoS sometimes more so…..ask Henry Kissinger. Nor despite all the talk do I think Kerry a slam dunk. It’s impossible to know of course but I can think of a couple of surprise names that can’t be ruled out. Not Bill btw, too old and not healthy enough.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 1 Thumb down 0

  10. Brummagem Joe says:

    @Aidan:

    I’m still not sure why Scott Brown would want to run again in a special election for Kerry’s seat when he’d be up for reelection again in 2014.

    Have to agree…..Warren knocked some gilt off this guy’s gingerbread.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 8 Thumb down 0

  11. stonetools says:

    The criticism of Rice over her handling of the Benghazi attacks, as well as other matters, was not dying down at all and even moderate Republicans like Susan Collins were expressing skepticism over the idea of Rice being nominated for Secretary of State.

    There is really no such thing as a moderate Republican any longer, if by moderate Republican” you mean ” take a centrist position against the will of the conservative majority”.
    Ms. Collin joined in this shameful ginned up ” fake scandal” campaign because she wanted to have Scott Brown back in the Senate.

    I’m hoping Obama doesn’t give the Republicans the satisfaction of giving the Republicans another shot at that seat in Massachusetts. In effect, his preferred choice for SoS was denied and a qualified woman was denied a chance to advance over bulls#!t stirred up all over the Internet and in Congress

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 9 Thumb down 2

  12. rudderpedals says:

    @Rafer Janders: I hope you’re wrong about his health. I can’t think of an American who would start the job with higher expectations and potential for actual success on any number of issues than Bill Clinton, but that’s probably a failure of imagination on my part.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 1 Thumb down 0

  13. Barfour says:

    Obama could nominate Tom Donilon as SoS, I’ve heard that he is or was a diplomat, and replace him as NSA with Susan Rice. One other person that I think could be an excellent SoS is retired Admiral William Fallon. Fallon spent all of his public career in the military but he is a trained diplomat, plus he was both head of pacific command and central command. He knows about Asia, which is going to be a focus of US foreign policy in the years to come. I don’t know if he will be interested in the job though or if Obama would want him as his SoS.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 1 Thumb down 0

  14. Rafer Janders says:

    @rudderpedals:

    I’m not saying he’s dying or anything, just that travelling around the world in a high-stress job may not be the best choice for a man in his 60s with a heart condition. But yes, if he could handle the job, Bill Clinton would be the man for it. At the least, maybe Obama could make him Secretary of ‘Splaining the U.S.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 4 Thumb down 0

  15. Scott F. says:

    @stonetools:

    +1 on this. Collins forfeited the “moderate” label some time ago.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 4 Thumb down 0

  16. stonetools says:

    @Barfour:

    According to Wikipedia:

    Donilon worked as Assistant Secretary of State for Public Affairs from 1993 to 1996, and served as the Clinton administration’s Secretary of State’s chief of staff. Although he has no military experience and worked as a lobbyist, Donilon was “intimately involved in many major foreign policy issues, including negotiating the Bosnian peace agreement and the expansion of NATO”. [3]

    Donilon figures prominently during formulation of strategy for Afghanistan and associated discussions in Bob Woodward’s 2010 book, “Obama’s Wars.”[9]

    Donilon was ‘criticized’ by General Jones, who once disparaged Donilon, for his lack of overseas experience, telling him that as a result: “You have no credibility with the military”, according to Bob Woodward’s “Obama’s Wars”. Jones said that Donilon was not good in his dealings with his staff at the National Security Council, displaying “too little feel for the people who work day and night….”. Donilon did visit Afghanistan March 2010 during President Obama’s six-hour late-night visit to the country.[10]

    Donilon is a possibility. I think the Democratic leadership would give up a safe Massachusetts Senate seat only as a “last resort”-especially since this is certainly going to be cast as a successful Republican move aimed at getting that seat.Indeed, this framing seems so obvious that its possible that the Administration may refuse to choose Kerry, just so as not to be seen to cave to Republicans on this. Expect all kind of Republican statements praising Kerry as the perfect SoS candidate and insisting that their opposition to Rice had NOTHING to do with the Senate seat, but I doubt that’s going to prevent this incident being framed that way.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 2 Thumb down 0

  17. OldSouth says:

    Words have meaning, and officially sanctioned words about serious matters spoken in public have consequences.

    She mounted the talking heads shows repeatedly in the weekend following the Sept. 11 2012 attack to spread what the Administration already knew to be untrue: Blaming the deliberate, planned assault on the Benghazi embassy on ‘demonstrators’ upset about a video on YouTube.

    There were no demonstrators, only al-Qaeda fighters mounting an organized assault. The Obama White House saw this in real time, and did zero, nothing to save those poor people. She carried the misinformation to the nation, she agreed to be the designated bearer of the lie.
    She never has retracted those words, and never will, because to people like her, words are just noises to make to distract attention away from the facts.

    She has no credibility, and won’t have any as NSA, either.

    Words have meaning, and officially sanctioned words about serious matters spoken in public have consequences.

    Poorly-rated. Helpful or Unhelpful: Thumb up 2 Thumb down 25

  18. OldSouth says:

    @Rafer Janders: @Rafer Janders:

    In a role that far up the ladder in any administration, she has an obligation to perform due diligence to ascertain that the words she speaks are, in fact, true. It comes with the job.

    She didn’t. Either she didn’t care about the truthfulness of her words, or was simply too lazy to verify them for herself. Either way, she is not qualified to run the State Department on behalf of the citizens of this country.

    Poorly-rated. Helpful or Unhelpful: Thumb up 1 Thumb down 16

  19. Not Likely says:

    The Obama White House saw this in real time, and did zero, nothing to save those poor people.

    Citation needed.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 12 Thumb down 0

  20. cd6 says:

    Words have meaning, and officially sanctioned words about serious matters spoken in public have consequences.

    Is this guy for real?

    “Officially sanctioned words” about “serious matters” which are “spoken in public”??

    Who the hell talks like this?

    This is the clearest possible example of how scandal-free the Obama administration has been. Bush lied his way into a war which he completely boned by failing to plan in any way for the post war occupation. That’s a serious, obvious screw up.

    Team Obama, though, well, they used the wrong “officially sanctioned words” and heavens to betsy, it might just be impeachment time.

    Highly-rated. Helpful or Unhelpful: Thumb up 18 Thumb down 2

  21. Drew says:

    Heh. Let’s first stipulate that all the public commentary and pol staements are pure crap.

    Now. I don’t agree with her, and find her light, but I feel sorry for her for this. She was put out there with a ridiculous story. A water carryer who deserved better than to be sacrificed for Obama and Hillary’s political cover.

    My god, instigated by a video? When does Chris Mathews demand that Santa Claus is real, because Obama says so?

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 2 Thumb down 13

  22. stonetools says:

    @OldSouth:

    Words have meaning, and officially sanctioned words about serious matters spoken in public have consequences.

    Words indeed have meaning, and I find your words to be hypocritical nonsense. Rice did her job, which was to defend the Administration stance-which was not demonstrably untrue at the time.

    Did you apply this standard to the many officials of the Bush Administration, including President Bush, who lied us into a war with Iraq over non existent WMD?

    Thought not.

    Old South, hey? Well, maybe you just have a problem, like many Republicans , with someone like Susan Rice not knowing her place.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 14 Thumb down 1

  23. Rafer Janders says:

    @OldSouth:

    In a role that far up the ladder in any administration, she has an obligation to perform due diligence to ascertain that the words she speaks are, in fact, true. It comes with the job.

    *sigh* She repeated what she had been told by the CIA. According to the WSJ:

    “The officials said the first draft of the talking points had a reference to al Qaeda but it was removed by the Central Intelligence Agency, to protect sources and protect investigations, before the talking points were shared with the White House. No evidence has so far emerged that the White House interfered to tone down the public intelligence assessment, despite the attention the charge has received…..Officials placed the talking points that day in a binder that was hand-delivered to Ms. Rice at around 8 p.m. at her home in Washington, where she was making last-minute preparations before making the rounds of the news shows the following morning.”

    So Ambassador Rice was handed a CIA intelligence assessment, which she relied on…and you say she, had a responsibility to conduct a separate investigation over and above what the CIA was doing? How exactly would she do that? Develop a network of on the ground sources before every talk show?

    You’re an idiot.

    Highly-rated. Helpful or Unhelpful: Thumb up 16 Thumb down 1

  24. JoshB says:

    @Not Likely:

    Your name sums up the chances of a response.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 2 Thumb down 0

  25. Rafer Janders says:

    @OldSouth:

    The Obama White House saw this in real time, and did zero, nothing to save those poor people.

    Worse than that — I hear that while President Obama watched the video feed, he was rubbing his hands together and cackling “die, American scum, die at the hands of my jihadi brothers!”

    Highly-rated. Helpful or Unhelpful: Thumb up 15 Thumb down 0

  26. bill says:

    this was all a ruse to pave the way for kerry. rice was tainted from the get go and would have crumbled if she had to go to anymore hearings.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 2

  27. OldSouth says:

    The issue is not her gender or her race. The issue is her credibility.

    She ran through all of it when she appeared on five different talk shows and spread misinformation, and never ever went back to retract and correct the record.

    Call me and mine names all you want, folks. This scandal is not going away.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 11

  28. bk says:

    @OldSouth:

    This scandal is not going away.

    What “scandal”, redneck?

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 9 Thumb down 0

  29. OldSouth says:
  30. HarvardLaw92 says:

    @OldSouth:

    Try to grasp this: her commentary was vetted by the CIA. Intelligence procedure and law prevents her from saying whatever she’d like to say, or, to be frank, from revealing 100% of the truth when doing so will compromise ongoing intelligence activities.

    It’s very much a case of someone in her position being told “this is what you can say. It’s all you can say. Don’t deviate from it, don’t expand on it and don’t volunteer anything that isn’t in the material we’ve approved.” She doesn’t get to blurt out whatever she likes, even if she wants to and even if she thinks its the right thing to do.

    And yes, even if it’s the truth …

    Nothing really establishes that she, or anybody else in the administration, had knowledge which validates your assertions. Even if they had, they’d have been barred by law from telling you about it.

    And yea, the “scandal” will go away. Just like Fast & Furious went away. Once there is no political traction left for Republicans to mine from it, it will dissapear faster than a snowball in Hell.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 6 Thumb down 0

  31. cd6 says:

    @Rafer Janders:

    Worse than that — I hear that while President Obama watched the video feed, he was rubbing his hands together and cackling “die, American scum, die at the hands of my jihadi brothers!”

    This guy

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 1 Thumb down 0

  32. David M says:

    @OldSouth:

    She ran through all of it when she appeared on five different talk shows and spread misinformation, and never ever went back to retract and correct the record.

    Even if so, why should I care? It’s not like she went on TV and spread misinformation to invade Iraq, and never ever went back to retract and correct the record. The GOP has previously said it’s OK for that person to be Secretary of State, even though that seems immeasurably worse.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 8 Thumb down 0