YAKIMA, Wash., December 1, 2012 — Like it or not, Susan Rice is tainted. She has been roundly attacked by Senator McCain and the Republican right. Her initial statements about the Benghazi attack, which she claims were based on U.S. intelligence sources given her at the time, have been used politically in an attempt by the Republicans to discredit President Obama. Sadly, her comments have discredited her, too.
Susan Rice has had up to now a distinguished career. A graduate of Stanford University, she was a Rhodes scholar who wrote her international relations dissertation on Zimbabwe. She’s a former Brookings Institution Fellow (a think-tank famed for its research), served in the Clinton Administration, and is now our UN Ambassador. She would be a credit to our country, she would serve the President well, but for whatever reason, she misspoke. Senator McCain and a few Republicans are unforgiving.
To Obama’s credit, he has defended and supported Rice in this difficult time, but in the end he’ll have to dump her. The Republicans will neither forget nor forgive what Rice said on Face the Nation. They will use her statements to discredit the President and his foreign policy.
The President needs to move on to a more likely candidate for Secretary of State.
It will not be an easy task to replace the successful and popular Hilary Clinton in that job. Clinton’s success in brokering an Israeli-Palestinian cease-fire is her latest in a long line of successes. Replacing her will be a Herculean task for the President.
Who should he choose? It must be a person of substance, someone devoted to public service, someone with an understanding of America’s place in the world and who understands the Middle East. It must be a person of high character, respected both abroad and at home, and a person who can reach across the corridors of power worldwide and the political aisles of Congress at home.
Recalling Colin Powell from retirement would be a statesman-like decision to fill this vital post.
Colin Powell is a past Secretary of State, a past Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff during the war in Iraq, and Ronald Reagan’s National Security Advisor. He’s a man of substance and high character, highly thought of by the American people, and respected around the world.
While there are many areas of uncertainty in the world, the most prominent hot spot at the moment is the Middle East. Iran is close to having a nuclear weapon capability, Syria is spiraling out of control, and Israel and its neighbors remain in perpetual conflict. Having held the position of Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff during the Persian Gulf War, Powell would be an ideal candidate who understands the shifting sands of the Middle East.
President Obama, think “Colin Powell” for our next Secretary of State.
General Powell was very circumspect about invading Iraq, but served President Bush (who had decided to invade) faithfully and well. Powell consistently stated that victory in Iraq needed to be a political victory, not just a military solution.
Like General Eisenhower before him, Powell understands the military is not a panacea for every international problem.
Powell is a highly regarded Republican. In the 2008 presidential election he donated the allowable maximum to the McCain campaign, but then announced his support for Obama after McCain chose Sarah Palin as his running mate. Powell saw Obama as a transformational leader, while questioning McCain’s choice of Palin. He believed that picking her moved the Republican Party too far to the right.
In 2012, Powell continued to support Obama, citing his successes and progress both at home and abroad. He stated that he likes the President’s sound decisions and leadership.
Colin Powell believes in the American dream, but he understands the Republican approach to balancing the budget and creating jobs. In Romney, he saw a lack of understanding of the international picture, coupled with a lack of connection with everyday American workers and their families. While Powell thinks a balanced budget and more job creation are important, he concedes that Obama has moved the country forward, albeit slowly.
President Obama, Republicans can support a Powell nomination for Secretary of State. Colin Powell would make an outstanding Secretary of State once again, and he could hit the ground running.
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