Rice, Kerry, and the Appointment Fight

In The Boston Globe, Robert Kuttner argues that John Kerry shouldn’t be nominated as secretary of state or defense. Doing so, he says, would legitimize baseless Republican attacks on UN ambassador Susan Rice, Obama’s top choice for one of the posts, who the GOP has been raking over the coals for Sunday talk show appearances in which she gave what turned out to be misleading information about the Benghazi attacks that killed US ambassador to Libya Christopher Stevens. It would also pull Kerry from his ultra-safe senate perch in Mass., potentially costing the Democrats a senate seat at a time when they have a narrow lead in that body and a vital midterm election is right around the corner.

As Kuttner points out, the GOP—many members of which are pushing for Kerry over Rice for what could be seen as pretty straightforward reasons—don’t actually have all that much leverage to stymie the appointment of the latter:

Obama seems to take the Republican attack on Rice personally, and may well stick with her as part of his new assertive stance. Republicans don’t have the votes to block her, and a Republican filibuster on a key appointment, at a time when Senate Democrats are seriously considering reform of the filibuster rules, could well backfire politically.

Oh, and just a friendly reminder that Benghazi-gate is pretty dumb. We should obviously do everything we can to investigate the tragic death of a US ambassador, but that doesn’t appear to be the goal of those claiming that Obama was involved in some sort of nefarious cover-up here.

Jesse Singal

Jesse Singal is a former opinion writer for The Boston Globe and former web editor of the Washington Monthly. He is currently a master's student at Princeton's Woodrow Wilson School of Public and International Policy. Follow him on Twitter at @jessesingal.