Kathleen Parker of the Washington Post rallies to the defense of Susan Rice with a column that rivals Dana Milbank’s latest offering for fatuousness. Parker claims that the primary obstacle to Rice’s confirmation as Secretary of State, should she be nominated, is the claim that she’s unqualified. She then suggests that this view of Rice is sexist.
Parker is wrong on both counts. First, the primary objection to Rice is the fact that she provided the public with information about the Benghazi attack that she either knew (probably) or should have known was false.
Parker dismisses this objection to Rice by saying that “everybody brave enough to enter the public arena gets away with a few free passes when they utter something short of brilliant.” Yes, but not when, for partisan political purposes, they make false statements about a terrorist attack.
As for “sexism,” Parker focuses on the criticism that Rice has an aggressive personality and sometimes behaves rudely. Aggression and occasional rudeness are rarely considered flaws in men, Parker assures us.
But claims that John Bolton is too aggressive in his interaction with others were raised when he was nominated to be U.N. ambassador, and quite possibly factored into his defeat. Thus, to the extent that such claims are raised against Rice, not as the primary reason for opposing her possible nomination for the more important position of Secretary of State, but as a concern, sexism should not be imputed.
Moreover, concerns about Rice have been aired not just by John McCain (who, in any event, selected a woman as his vice presidential candidate) and Lindsey Graham, but also by Kelly Ayotte and Susan Collins. Obviously, sexism is no part of their thinking.
And obviously, Parker isn’t thinking. She’s just providing knee-jerk feminist talking points.