CHARLOTTE, November 17, 2012 — Barack Obama was less than cordial at his press conference last Wednesday when asked about his possible nomination of Susan Rice as Secretary of State and Republican efforts to derail her confirmation.
Obama feigned bravado when he defended Rice against Senators John McCain and Lindsey Graham with a “they should go after me” comment in the East Room of the White House. Within hours, Rep. James Clyburn (D-SC) went on the attack, accusing Republican’s with being concerned with Rice’s race, not her qualifications.
It has been well documented that Susan Rice, the United States Ambassador to the United Nations, was hardly the best choice to appear on five Sunday news shows on September 16 to respond to the terrorist attack in Benghazi.
Even Obama claimed that Rice “had nothing to do with Benghazi.” So the questions become: Why was Rice the spokesperson for the administration on the Benghazi situation and what does objection to her appointment have to do with race?
The most glaring result of Rice’s appearance in the aftermath of the Libyan events is that she is ill qualified to become the next Secretary of State. Rice not only lacks the credentials required for the position, or held by her predecessors, but we must remember she has been overlooked for this position since 1997.
Not an issue on US soil, but in the theater of the Middle East, being a woman would most likely be a detriment when dealing with the complexities of global terrorism and governments in the Middle East.
A female serving as the nation’s top diplomat may very well place us at a disadvantage from the outset. Not because Rice is a woman in the US, but how she will be responded to by governments that still deny woman the simplest freedoms or education.
Given the hypothetical that Rice is confirmed as the fourth female Secretary of State, with Colin Powell being the only male in that position in this century, she would also be the least equipped of the quartet of women to hold the post.
Madeleine Albright was the first Secretary of State, and she, like Rice, was Ambassador to the United Nations. Not only was Albright highly qualified for the position, she also brought incredible linguistic skills to the job, being fluent in French, Russian, Czech and English as well as the ability to speak and read Polish and Serbo-Croatian.
No small advantage when negotiating on an international scale.
From 2005 – 2009 Condoleezza Rice held the position. In case Rep. Clyburn didn’t notice, C. Rice, who is a Republican, was the first female African-American secretary of state. This is not about a nation afraid of color. Powell and Condoleezza Rice are both African Americans.
As National Security Advisor from 2001–2005 in the Bush administration, C. Rice worked closely with CIA Director George Tenet after the 9/11 attacks to prevent further terrorism against American targets.
It can be debated whether C. Rice or Albright possessed the most impressive qualifications for the position of Secretary of State, but the fact remains, they had to overcome the gender barrier in a world where women are not given equal status.
Some observers believe that Hillary Clinton, the current Secretary of State, has done an admirable job during her tenure. The question arises however, whether that is a product of minimal media exposure rather than a strong diplomatic portfolio.
Certainly recent events in Benghazi highlight America’s weakness in dealing with Islamic radicalism. In the waning months of Clinton’s term, this can hardly be an endorsement of her skills as an international diplomat.
Neither C. Rice nor Albright could claim Clinton’s advantage of eight years in the White House as First Lady, and later as U.S. Senator from New York. However, both of Clinton’s predecessors were better qualified for the position than she.
Name recognition carries less credibility and weight than on the job experience.
Susan Rice, on the other hand, is without doubt the least qualified of the four women for the position of Secretary of State during a time when we need the strongest possible candidate.
Then there is the concern that she has alienated more than her share of people at home and abroad in a field where diplomacy is the ultimate job requirement. In Oregon Live, writer Dan Milbank (WAPO) writes”
“Rice’s pugilism provoked an attempt by the Russians to weigh in last week in opposition to Rice as secretary of state. The Russian business daily Kommersant quoted an anonymous Russian foreign ministry official saying Rice, who quarreled with Russia over Syria, is “too ambitious and aggressive,” and her appointment would make it “more difficult for Moscow to work with Washington.”
Though she did work as an Assistant Secretary of State in the Clinton administration, there are numerous accounts of shouting matches between Rice an her colleagues. There was even one instance where, as also reported by Milbank, she gave the “Rockefeller Gesture” to the esteemed US diplomat Richard Holbrooke (dec), the US Special Envoy for Afghanistan and Pakistan and US Ambassador to the United Nations, during a senior staff meeting at the State Department.
None of which has anything to do with race, but has everything to do with tact and diplomacy.
Coupled with the inherent difficulties of dealing with a male dominated society in the Middle East where women get little, if any, respect, the prospects of Susan Rice as our next Secretary of State make the initials S.O.S. a clear warning regarding American weakness in an increasingly dangerous world.
With a president who seems to have no interest in providing assistance to Israel, while appeasing a Muslim world where radical Islam is gaining strength, a female puppet with the title of Secretary of State is a gamble where the odds are against us.
Peabod is Bob Taylor, owner of Taylored Media Services in Charlotte, NC. Taylor is founder of The Magellan Travel Club, which creates, and escorts customized tours to Switzerland, France, and Italy for groups of 12 or more. Inquiries for groups can be made at Peabod@aol.com
Taylored Media has produced marketing videos for British Rail, Rail Europe, Switzerland Tourism, the Swedish Travel & Tourism Council, the Finnish Tourist Board, the Swiss Travel System, and Japan Railways Group among others. As author of The Century Club book, Peabod is now attempting to travel to 100 countries or more during his lifetime. To date he has visited 70 countries.
Suggest someplace new for Bob to visit; if you want to know where he has been, check his list on Facebook. Bob plans to write a sequel to his book when he reaches his goal of 100 countries. He also played professional baseball for four years and was a sportscaster for 14 years at WBTV, the CBS affiliate in Charlotte.
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