At his press conference today, President Obama became testy when asked about threats by Senators John McCain and Lindsey Graham to oppose Susan Rice if she is nominated to be Secretary of State. Obama advised Senate Republicans that if they want to “go after somebody, they should go after me.” He added, with disgust, that Rice is merely the U.N. ambassador and, as such, had nothing to do with Benghazi. Accordingly, he warned, if Republicans “go after her,” they will have “a problem with me.”
Here is the video:
But it was the Obama administration’s decision to designate Rice as its spokesperson on Benghazi, having her appear on five Sunday talk shows. The reason, I assume, was precisely that Rice lacked personal knowledge of the situation and thus could serve as a conduit of false information in ways that the actual players — e.g., Hillary Clinton — could not. Thus, Rice ended up peddling the falsehood that this was a protest that turned ugly when the jihadists joined in. The truth is that this was an attack planned by the jihadists.
In any event, whenever there’s a major scandal — and the preventable death of four Americans including a U.S. ambassador qualifies as one — it is customary for Congress to hold everyone involved accountable, not just the president. And when, as so often is the case, the scandal includes a cover up, government officials who further the cover up are among those who must be held accountable.
The fact that Obama was re-elected president with 51 percent of the popular vote doesn’t change this reality — one experienced by more popular presidents such as Richard Nixon and Ronald Reagan
Obama defended Rice by claiming that in her talk show appearances, “she gave her best understanding of the situation based on the intelligence that had been provided to her.” If, in the event she is nominated Secretary of State, Rice can satisfy Republican Senators (1) that it was proper to lend her prestige as U.N. ambassador to the service of the administration’s spin operation by talking to the press about a subject she had no involvement with and (b) that she did everything that could reasonably be expected of her to inform herself of the facts pertaining to Benghazi, only to be thwarted by the poor information she received, then perhaps Republicans will drop their opposition. But that’s a tough sell, and one that would require, at a minimum, full disclosure of the information that was provided to her and the information that was not.
Meanwhile, if Obama is sincere in his statements today that “there needs to be accountability” and that to advance this objective he is “happy to cooperate in any way that Congress wants,” then he should testify before Congress about all aspects of Benghazi. This includes the failure to provide requested security before the attack, the failure to provide more effective support during the attacks, and the failure to provide accurate information about the attack later on.
But Obama is not sincere. Therefore, the congressional effort to get to the bottom of the various aspects of Benghazigate probably will proceed as usual, by investigating from the bottom up. And, if Obama nominates Rice for Secretary of State, there will (and should) be particular focus on her.