This was doomed from the outset.
What was supposed to be a make-nice meeting on Tuesday seemed only to make things more contentious between the White House and Senate Republicans over U.N. Ambassador Susan Rice’s comments following the Sept. 11 attack on the U.S. mission in Benghazi, Libya.
Rice came face to face with some of her harshest Republican critics, hoping to allay their concerns about whether she misled Americans regarding what precipitated the assault. President Obama has staunchly defended Rice and is said to be considering her for his next secretary of state, but the meeting apparently only served to deepen GOP skepticism.
“Bottom line, I’m more disturbed now than I was before,” said Sen. Lindsey O. Graham (S.C.).
Rice and Acting CIA Director Michael Morell met privately with Graham and Sens. John McCain (Ariz.) and Kelly Ayotte (N.H.), three members of the Senate Armed Services Committee who have been leading the GOP charge against the administration since the attack that led to the deaths of four Americans, including Ambassador J. Christopher Stevens.
Ayotte said she left the meeting with Rice “more troubled, not less.”
McCain told reporters that he and his colleagues remain “significantly troubled by many of the answers that we got and some that we didn’t get concerning evidence that was overwhelming leading up to the attack on our consulate that we tried to get.”
Unless Ms. Rice had gone into the meeting and slit open her wrists, there wasn’t going to be any other outcome than what we got, so the only thing you can say is that at least she tried. She would have been excoriated if she hadn’t made the effort.
I don’t know what is up with John McCain other than he still hasn’t gotten over losing in 2008 and he’s never been a person of moderate temperament anyway; his explosions are legendary. So to him, despite the fact that Ms. Rice’s explanations about what she said and why she said it after the attack in Libya were standard operating procedure for any administration in a crisis situation, they’re unacceptable from her because she works for Barack Obama. He can’t yell at the clouds without being hauled off for observation, so he takes his frustration and bitterness at being a sad laughingstock in American electoral politics out on an easy target.
As for Sen. Graham, he has the misfortune to remind everyone of the little suck-up that followed the high school jocks around and lavished praise on them so he wouldn’t end up stuffed in a locker with his underwear around his ears. He has raised toadyism to a high art.
In all of this, though, I notice that none of them, including Ms. Ayotte, who seems to be joining in on this so that she can get noticed, have done what President Obama famously told them to do: come after him. Why should they? Bullies never go after the ones they know will beat them down.