Susan Collins met with Susan Rice today. Rice was hoping, no doubt, to make a better impression on the Maine moderate than she did earlier this week on John McCain, Lindsey Graham, and Kelly Ayotte.
If Rice succeeded, she did so only marginally. Collins said afterwards that the meeting left her with a sense of disappointment with Rice. She added that she is not ready at this point to support Rice for Secretary of State.
In addition to discussing Benghazigate, Collins asked Rice about two deadly bombings of U.S. embassies in Africa when Rice was in charge of the Africa desk at the State Department. The ambassador to Kenya, whose embassy was hit, had asked State for more protection, but was turned down. Collins asked Rice, who likely would have been in the loop, about this decision.
Collins told Greta Van Susteren that Rice said she hadn’t expected the question at a meeting regarding Benghazi, and would have to refresh her recollection. Apparently, though, she also denied turning down the request. If Rice is nominated to be Secretary of State, this line of inquiry will need to be pursued.
But regardless of the facts pertaining to Kenya, Collins’ disappointment with Rice’s answers pertaining to Libya is bad news for the U.N. ambassador’s prospects for promotion. Unlike McCain, Collins can’t be cast as a bitter old white guy. Unlike Graham, she isn’t a southern white guy. Unlike Ayotte, Collins isn’t even a conservative. If Rice’s supporters want to claim that Collins is a racist, I say good luck.
The bad news for the U.S. is that John Kerry seems to be the frontrunner for Secretary of State if Rice doesn’t get the nod. Kerry is at least as bad as Rice on substance and, unlike Rice, is loathsome personally, in my view. But Collins expressed strong support for her fellow New England Senator as a potential Secretary of State.
Oh well. At least if Rice falls out of the picture, we won’t be saddled with the worst of all plausible worlds — Rice at State and Kerry at the Pentagon.