Last week, when President Obama won reelection, we predicted that despite her highly odd behavior in the aftermath of the attacks in Benghazi, UN Ambassador Susan Rice would almost certainly still be a favorite to replace retiring Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton. Now several reports – as aggregated by the National Journal – are confirming precisely that.
First, there is a New York Times report, which states:
Ms. Rice, an outspoken, ambitious diplomat with close ties to Mr. Obama, has emerged as the clear favorite. But she would face stiff resistance on Capitol Hill, where she has come under withering criticism from Republicans for asserting that the deadly attack on the American mission in Benghazi, Libya, might have been a spontaneous protest rather than a terrorist attack.
Then, there is this passage from a Washington Post story:
Although Kerry is thought to covet the job of secretary of state, senior administration officials familiar with the transition planning said that nomination will almost certainly go to Susan E. Rice, the U.S. ambassador to the United Nations.[...]
Rice, one of an inner circle of aides who have been with Obama since his first presidential campaign in 2007, is under particular fire over the Benghazi incident, in which U.S. Ambassador J. Christopher Stevens and three other Americans were killed.
Some Republican lawmakers have suggested that she was part of what they suspect was an initial election-related attempt to portray the attack as a peaceful demonstration that turned violent, rather than what the administration now acknowledges was an organized terrorist assault.
Rice’s description, days after the attack, of a protest gone wrong indicated that she either intentionally misled the country or was incompetent, Sen. Lindsey O. Graham (R-S.C.) said Sunday. Rice, he said, “would have an incredibly difficult time” winning Senate confirmation as secretary of state.
But several White House officials said Obama is prepared to dig in his heels over her nomination to replace Hillary Rodham Clinton, who has long said she will serve only one term.
Needless to say, if these predictions turn out to be true, Rice’s confirmation hearings may become the closest thing available to a full-scale floor fight over the attacks in Benghazi. However, in the absence of clear-cut evidence of wrongdoing on her part, it is possible that she will squeak by, given the increasingly Democratic makeup of the Senate.
In fact, ironically enough, the size of the Senate Democratic majority may be a factor impeding the other top contender, Massachusetts Sen. John Kerry, whose seat is reportedly seen as being in jeopardy if he is tapped for a senior administration post.