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Baghdad vs Benghazi: A Tale of Two Rices

11/20/2012 04:03 pm ET | Updated Jan 20, 2013

Despite the fact that I'm a flaming limousine liberal, I have nothing but love for Dr. Condoleeza Rice. Like myself, she is a Black Southern woman who attended an elite private college and has committed herself to public service. She as a professor, me as a writer. See the similarities?

Even though our politics could not be more different, I've always had a great deal of respect for Dr. Rice, as she has broken ground and glass ceilings for Black women everywhere as the first woman National Security Director and the first African-American woman to hold the position of Secretary of State.

Yet and still, the big huge tarnish on Rice's career is Iraq. As the search for weapons of mass destruction raged on, as thousands of Iraqis and U.S. troops died, it became increasingly apparent that someone, somewhere had lied to the American people. Was it Condi? President Bush, shadowy and uber suspect VP Dick Cheney? It's 2012 and we still don't know. Yet, Dr. Rice's name has remained relatively untarnished in history. In fact, as the years progress, I become increasingly confident the American people will never truly know how intelligence agencies all over the world, got it so wrong in Iraq.

Today, we face another national quandary on the foreign front, as Washington scrambles to figure out what happened in Benghazi, that led to the death of Ambassador Christ Stevens and others.

Republicans John McCain, Lindsay Graham and 97 members of the United States House, have firmly decided Ambassador Susan Rice is to blame, as she told Meet The Press the attacks were the result of an inflammatory YouTube video that had recently been posted. Rice has a long record of public service under multiple presidents and as a native of Washington, DC is no stranger to Beltway politics.

When a tenured Senator like John McCain makes a comment like "she should have known better," in reference to Ambassador Rice, it doesn't seem like a fair or delicate critique. What is it that she should have known? Like Dr. Rice, Ambassador Rice was working off of the best intelligence available at the time. This has been confirmed on Capitol Hill following the testimony of former CIA head David Petraeus and others last week before a Senate intelligence committee.

Republicans commitment to demonizing Ambassador Rice is laughable in the face of their vigorous support of Dr. Rice as she moved from the position of National Security Advisor to the even higher post of Secretary of State. As ambassador, it is not the job of Susan Rice to provide security, make deductions on intelligence that comes in or even make decisions about what information can be made available to the American people. During her Meet the Press appearance, for which she is being panned, Ambassador Rice was serving as an emissary of the White House. To put it in short, she was just doing her job.

Yet, Republicans have made it clear this is their next breadbox issue. One they are willing to use to attempt to mute the momentum of President Barack Obama's reelection and also attempt to show some relevance amongst their own ranks. The wound licking and Romney distancing still in full effect. As they reform the party brand, Republicans are taking a huge gamble, using Ambassador Rice to discredit the president and his handling of foreign relations in the Middle East.

When asked what the difference was between the Condoleeza Rice blunder and that of Susan Rice, Senator John McCain said that every major intelligence outlet in the world was on board with the United States in believing there were weapons of mass destruction in Iraq.

It's troubling to think Republicans see Rice as a target, not because she has made a legitimate error, but because she is a young, Black woman, tied to a Black President, who the GOP and it's supporters have labeled lazy, incompetent and everything else, but a child of God. Playing on the racial frustrations of white America is the oldest trick in the Republican playbook and one they're obviously not afraid to call, even though culturally inclusive America beat them back on election day.

If Susan Rice must be held to account, so must Condoleeza Rice. Leading America into a costly and deadly war that has no real signs of ending has been a detriment to our economy and families everywhere who've lost family members or had them return home in a condition far worse than when they left.