Friday, December 14, 2012

When Things Fall Apart: The Confusion That Susan Rice Symbolizes

Source: The McCain Train, Phoenix New Times
Whenever our national politicians get seriously odd, you have to wonder if they know what they’re really saying. Attacks on Susan Rice, particularly by John McCain (who I’ve always felt was a decent and intelligent man with a balanced sense of decorum), over the past several months are a case in point. The general argument, somehow, was that she is either incompetent or a liar in the role she played communicating what happened in the attack on the US consulate in Benghazi, Libya.

Things became seriously heated when a post-election Obama team began to bandy her name about as a successor to Hillary Clinton as Secretary State. On the face of it, this could just be a simple case of skewering the President at a time when there is a sense that he won a mandate from the people. Rice is a good friend of Obama’s and is certainly close to Oval Office personnel. For a party that lost a historical election and is now expected to back down on the bizarre tax structure gang-plank they let a non-elected ideologue build for them, sticking it to the President in any way possible might just take him off his game (it’s worth a try anyway, right?). At the very least, forcing him to deal with something somewhat personal creates one more wedge to work with in negotiating the country away from the so-called fiscal cliff. Some folks also point to the politics of McCain's cohorts: Lindsay Graham is up for re-election soon and newbie Kelly Ayotte needed an issue she could sink her teeth into.

But poking at Susan Rice’s eyes and impugning this Rhodes Scholar, Stanford Phi Beta Kappa graduate’s intelligence really does seem over the top and just strange. Especially in light of the fact that McCain was someone who nominated Condoleezza Rice to the same post in a Bush Administration that will go down in history as either truly inept or outright despicable for conjuring up “evidence” about Iraq’s weapons of mass destruction — with Rice playing a key communications role as National Security Advisor.

By now, you know all of this. You should probably feel as well that the way the Administration handled this disaster was pretty wishy-washy. It’s interesting that Hillary Clinton kept herself out of the mix. And if you read Fact Checker’s breakdown of “he said, she said,” there’s no question that Obama’s team really screwed up here, but that John McCain et al continue to willfully twist the truth, and have no case to stand on. As Fact Checker concludes: “Susan Rice essentially mouthed the words that were given to her.” As my dad would say, "Weird!"

The politics of this whole kerfuffle (and that’s really all it is) are probably muddied by a lot of stuff the media has only partially reported. Rice is a somewhat polarizing figure and has, as they say, demonstrated “sharp elbows” during her career. She has ticked off people on both sides of the aisle. There are also reports that Secretary Clinton did not support her nomination. At the same time, Presidents get their way with who they nominate to head the State Department.

So what gives? Is this just a simple case of beating up yet another smart African American who would be nominated to one of the highest offices in the land? Was Susan Rice getting the same treatment that Elizabeth Warren got — another whip-smart, fearless, “in your face” charismatic woman — when she was under consideration to oversee a consumer financial watchdog institution that would finally reign in Wall Street excess? The obvious subset of these two categories goes without saying. A liberal black woman may well be some people’s biggest nightmare.

But I don’t think any of this is even that rational (and it is rational if you try to think like one of the good ole boys). Nope. There’s more going on here.

Recall that the Democrats took a huge step this year, particularly our President, by coming out foursquare in support of same sex marriage. And then they won the election. Every major national poll shows that the country as a whole is trending markedly towards acceptance of gay marriage.

Worse, perhaps, we saw the de-criminalization of marijuana in Washington and Colorado. It’s only a matter of time before the cards fall nationally on this issue. Along with the morality of legalization for users, the revenue and justice system logic is just too strong. But marijuana is not like alcohol. Cannibinoids are psycho-active chemicals that typically alter people’s minds in very interesting ways. Grass ain’t acid or peyote, but it tends to raise a user's mind about things like authority, the beauty of nature, and the pleasures of the senses. This may sound stupid, but marijuana truly is a big threat to the American Way of Life (of course, to some of us who love this country dearly, that’s a good thing).

There’s more too. As the election approached, Hurricane Sandy smote waterfront neighborhoods in New Jersey and New York. Both sides had shamefully stayed away from talk of climate change, but Mother Nature herself reminded everyone with half a brain about what’s real and what ain’t. It was the biggest nail in the coffin that global warming deniers are making for themselves.

So when you add all of this up, plus the re-election of a young, princely, intelligent, handsome, vibrant bi-racial leader unafraid to speak his mind, well, how over-the-top does that make certain people in this country? Recall as well, that Republicans had more money at their disposal and that one of the key propaganda techniques they used was distorting the truth (Susan Rice’s situation is just a carryover).

I’m still quite perplexed that John McCain is at the center of this babbling lunacy. He’s made a fool out of himself and given voters even more reason not to want to elect Republicans in the next election. He’s also very likely really pissed off the President, not to mention the Ambassador to the United Nations. Why would you do that if you weren’t just freaked out of your mind at how this country is changing and how it’s not going your way?

To close, just let me predict that this type of behavior will continue from Republicans over the next few years. One of the things about people who feel that morality is more important than reason (and that is the distinction here folks) is that when their backs are against the wall, they lose their common sense. You know what I’m talking about. We’ve all dealt with that guy who yells louder than anyone else at a meeting because folks disagree with him. Or the parent at the soccer game who runs out onto the field threatening the ref? Or how about all those bullies we all had to deal with in junior high? That stuff doesn’t go away when you become a politician, you just get better at grabbing power so that you don’t have to use it.

So watch what happens over the next few weeks as we all approach that fiscal cliff. I hope I’m wrong, but I doubt it. Things are going to get very interesting. And we’re all going to forget about McCain’s lunatic month of truth or dare, because someone else is going to step up to the microphones. No telling who it will be or what they will do, but I assure you, it will sell papers and keep you glued to the news for at least 5 days until Sunday's NFL games.

God bless the United States of America…and God bless Susan Rice and her sharp elbows, too. God bless us one and all.

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