Democratic women defend Susan Rice, call out her critics’ sexism, racism, and mediocrity

This is gratifying; Democratic women have gone to bat for UN Ambassador Susan Rice, defending her against racist, sexist attacks by conservative Republican critics. In case you missed it, as part of the right’s pathetic campaign to gin up a huge scandal over Benghazi, leading Republicans have lately been directing their fire at Rice. Their criticism has been not only nasty but unusually personal. John McCain, for example, called her “not very bright” and “not qualified.” Lindsay Graham portrayed her as a dizzy, delusional untrustworthy broad, alleging that “She is so disconnected from reality that I don’t trust her.” Both have pledged to do “whatever is in our power” to block Rice’s appointment as Secretary of State, should President Obama nominate her.

This isn’t the only heavy-handed, sexist, racist criticism that has been aimed at Rice. It’s not just conservative lawmakers who been going after Rice; the Villagers clearly have the knives out for her as well. Villager-in-good-standing Dana Millbank has impugned Rice’s allegedly “tarnished resume” and apparently finds her behavior most unladylike (though the euphemism he prefers to use is “undiplomatic”). Among Rice’s sins, according to Millbank, is this:

Back when she was an assistant secretary of state during the Clinton administration, she appalled colleagues by flipping her middle finger at Richard Holbrooke during a meeting with senior staff at the State Department, according to witnesses. Colleagues talk of shouting matches and insults.

Oh noes! Bring out the smelling salts! This stuff is especially odd coming from Millbank, known for writing nauseating fanboy drivel about Rahm Emanuel, a man not exactly famous for his dainty language or decorous approach to politics.

Another of Rice’s sins, according to Dana Millbank, is “insulting” Hillary Clinton, during Hillary’s campaign for president. Here is his sole example of Rice’s “insulting” behavior, in its entirety:

Rice condemned Clinton’s Iraq and Iran positions, asking for an “explanation of how and why she got those critical judgments wrong.”

But hey, I guess the man who unapologetically called Clinton a bitch knows from insults!

That McCain, Graham, Millbank, and other known antifeminists have been going after Rice in such clearly gendered ways has been infuriating. That’s why I appreciated President Obama’s strong words in support of Rice earlier this week. (I also his appreciated him showing his rarely seen “bring it on” side. More like this, please!)

All of which explains why it has been so gratifying to see Democratic women coming to Rice’s defense. I especially enjoyed this:

The Democratic women directed particular ire against McCain, who said Rice was “not being very bright” in her comments. The women pointed out that Rice was a Rhodes scholar who graduated tops in her Stanford University class whereas McCain was in the bottom of his class at the U.S. Naval Academy.

I so love that they went there. It’s maddening that this country is more or less run by old, white, out of touch, sexist, racist men like McCain and Mitt Romney, whose accomplishments, intellectual and otherwise, are dubious, and who would reaped enormous unearned benefits from the wealth and connections they were born into. And yet these same people, rather than being humble about their own modest abilities and respectful of others who have accomplished so much in the world despite facing far more formidable obstacles, have the unmitigated call to question their credentials.

The right does this time and again. Women and nonwhites in the public eye constantly have their qualifications and competencies questioned in ways that those of white men never are. No matter how glittering a person’s resume is, how dazzling their accomplishments are, if a prominent person is nonwhite and/or female, he or she is treated as an unqualified usurper. Moreover, they are treated this way not just by the wingnut fringe, but by such icons of the GOP establishment as John McCain. We see this in, for example, the obsessive attempts by those on the right to get Barack Obama to release his college transcript, their bizarre assertions that Bill Ayers wrote Obama’s books, and their ludicrous belief that Obama can’t put a coherent sentence together without a teleprompter. We also saw it, all too clearly, in the disgustingly racist, sexist treatment many on the right dished out to Sonia Sotomayor.

The G.O.P. just suffered an overwhelming presidential defeat, in large part because they have repeatedly made it loud and clear to women and nonwhites that we are less than, that we are not welcome in their America. And yet, in spite of the devastating rejection they just received by the American electorate, they just can’t help themselves. They cluelessly go on their merry way, blithely insulting huge swathes of America, and denying the competency and legitimacy of some of the most accomplished people in America, simply because they possess the wrong genitals and/or skin color. Awesome way to talk yourselves ever more deeply into irrelevancy, dudes! These guys can’t exit the stage soon enough, as far as I’m concerned.

Kathleen Geier

Kathleen Geier is a writer and public policy researcher who lives in Chicago. She blogs at Inequality Matters. Find her on Twitter: @Kathy_Gee