THE BLOG

Susan Rice Is a Victim of the Politics of Personal Destruction

12/14/2012 04:48 pm ET | Updated Feb 13, 2013

The morally and intellectually bankrupt Republican Party has repeatedly used the politics of personal destruction to try to bring down the Obama administration. And Susan Rice is its latest victim.

After winning decisively in 2008, President Obama has been subjected to an unprecedented barrage of personal attacks. Those in the birther movement continue to insist he was born in Kenya. His health care plan, the stimulus and the rescue of the auto industry inspired many in Republican politics and its allies in the conservative media to label him as a Socialist. And a Congressman from South Carolina infamously shouted "You lie!" during his State of the Union address.

But all of that Republican venom could not defeat President Obama. And so they broadened their targets to include his closest colleagues in his administration. Attorney General Eric Holder was voted by House Republicans to be in contempt of Congress, in another manufactured "scandal," the Fast and Furious program. After releasing voluminous documentation and hours of testimony that revealed no wrongdoing by Holder, Republicans still pressed their attack on Holder, hoping to force him to resign. But Holder held his ground, and that issue began to fade.

The tragic attack in Benghazi gave the Republicans another chance to try to bring down another administration official close to the president.

Instead of standing together as a country, as Democrats and Republicans did after the 9/11/01 attacks, Republicans immediately exploited the Libya attack for political gain. Mitt Romney's first response after the attack was to criticize the Administration's remarks, even though Romney had the timetable of events wrong.

And when Susan Rice appeared on the Sunday talk shows six days later, they seized on her comments in an attempt to bring her down even though she was saying what any other administration official would have said in that situation. Yet it seems unlikely that if General Petraeus or Hillary Clinton had been the spokesperson, Republicans would have accused them of being a liar or incompetent, as they did with Ambassador Rice.

Until yesterday it seemed as if Rice would still emerge as the nominee for Secretary of State. The president strongly and passionately defended her at his post-election news conference. And had she been nominated, she likely would have been confirmed.

But the petty vindictiveness of John McCain, still bitter over his 2008 loss to Obama and seething over a criticism leveled at him during that campaign by Rice, won this battle.

Republicans can't win national elections, or capture the hearts and minds of a majority of Americans. But they can use the politics of personal destruction to give them the twisted satisfaction of taking down a highly intelligent, exceptionally qualified potential nominee for Secretary of State.