Sunday, December 02, 2012

Old Themes Bubble Up in McCain Attack on Susan Rice

Premeditated GOP Assault on Susan Rice

Demands Rebuke, gets one from Fudge

Susan Rice, the U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations and once, if no longer, President Obama’s putative favorite to succeed Hillary Clinton as Secretary of State, is not the most diplomatic person Obama might consider to lead the nation’s corps of diplomats. There is ample evidence for her detractors to argue that she is aggressive and abrasive. She reportedly offered a middle-finger salute to a distinguished colleague during a meeting of senior staff while she was an assistant secretary of state in the Clinton administration. During the Obama-Clinton contest for the Democratic Party nomination in 2008, she pointedly criticized the woman she now would like to succeed; later that year she ridiculed Sen. John McCain for his “reckless” policies and said “his tendency is to shoot first and ask questions later.”    (Source)

While many see her assessment of McCain as spot on, it most assuredly has played a role in McCain’s assumption of a leading role in the assault of the GOP establishment on Rice’s performance tour on the Sunday talk shows in the wake of the attack upon our diplomatic mission in Benghazi, Libya that resulted in the killing of four US citizens, including our Libyan ambassador.

U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations Susan Rice

Notwithstanding that Rice may not fit McCain’s definition of charming, many of the attacks on her performance have been scurrilous and despicable. Detractors have implied that she is some combination of a “not very bright” incompetent liar.

Senate Republicans certainly want to prevent Rice from becoming Secretary of State as a way of damaging the President. But they are using language and tactics that demean black women while using them as surrogate targets.

A clear pattern is on display in the current assault on the intelligent, accomplished, well-educated Susan Rice, whose resume sports being a Rhodes Scholar among her credentials. The disrespect she is being accorded calls to mind the treatment awarded to among others: Anita Hill [portrayed as jilted lover of Supreme Court nominee Clarence Thomas]; Lani Guinier [caricaturized as the “Quota Queen” when nominated by President Clinton as an assistant attorney general]; and Michelle Obama [denounced as “unpatriotic”].

Accomplished black women who step up in any way or in any manner that challenges either white or male privilege are still stereotyped and demonized in a way unrivaled by any other demographic. 

Is it race or gender? If you are a black woman, it doesn’t really matter. This is just an ugly part of American history manifested in code words and other behaviors that are residues of the belief that confident and accomplished black women are in truth merely uppity and underserving “affirmative action babies”.

Black men need to join the women of all colors and beliefs [including some Republican women] who are not so quietly outraged at the dwindling party of white male privilege that perpetrates these outrages and the band of soggy liberals who permit it.

So let me here praise and thank my Congresswoman, Marcia Fudge, president-elect of the Congressional Black Caucus, for calling out Rice’s hypocritical detractors. Rep. Fudge this week held a press conference where she denounced critics of Rice who say she is “unqualified”, calling them “haters” who pick on women and minorities when something goes wrong. 

Her comments got some well-deserved play on Cleveland’s Ideastream and even showed up on The Daily Show, where Jon Stewart joked that she had turned the House into a Tyler Perry production. See full episode here.

A good friend of mine, an astute and well-informed observer on these matters, emailed me to say that that Fudge’s “comments about the poisonous race-gender admixture in the GOP treatment of Susan Rice [were] very powerful and made me really proud she represents me. " 


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