Susan Rice Debates Highlight Both Democratic and Republican Racial Hypocrisy

by Dr. Boyce Watkins

Susan Rice hasn’t even been nominated to replace Hillary Clinton as Secretary of State, but Republicans act as though she has.  The attacks are coming fast and furious (pun intended) but they are as misguided and inaccurate as the War in Iraq.  Senators Lindsey Graham of South Carolina and John McCain of Arizona have already promised to block the confirmation of Rice.  Another 100 House Republicans have signed a letter saying that nominating Rice would hurt American credibility in other countries.

The whole center of Republican opposition revolves around statements made by Rice about the attacks in Benghazi over two months ago.   The attack led to the death of US Ambassador Christopher Stevens, and three others.  Rice initially stated that the attacks were spontaneous demonstrations against the American embassy in response to a ridiculous low budget video that had been placed on the Internet.  Only Americans would be so arrogant as to think that Muslims are this stupid.

The ironic thing about the Rice situation is that if making misleading remarks was reason for disqualification, the same would have happened to former Secretary of State Colin Powell, whose speech before the United Nations led to the war in Iraq.   Some say that Powell, a Republican, should have been sent to the hills after such a blatant error.  Additionally, former Secretary of State Condoleeza Rice supported Powell’s false theory about Iraq, scaring the nation into the invasion.

The comparisons of the actions between three African American Secretaries of State (two ironically being black women with the last name “Rice”), all of whom have served during the last decade, shows that the attacks on Rice are more about politics than race.  Republicans are made to look hypocritical by going after Susan Rice and overlooking even worse decisions by Powell and Condoleeza.

The debate also makes Democrats themselves look hypocritical for supporting Susan Rice while demonizing the other two black  people in the same position.  Additionally, Susan Rice’s misdirection is far less disconcerting than other problems with Benghazi, such as ignored security warnings that made those in the embassy vulnerable to attack.

Susan Rice is as qualified as anyone for the job.  She has a tremendous amount of foreign policy experience, starting as a staffer for the National Security Council in 1993.  She was the US Ambassador to Libya in 2009 as well.   Her experience makes her into a natural fit without all the immature, irrelevant debating that has come to define the selfish egomaniacs who work on Capitol Hill.

Remarks by Rep. James Clyburn a Democratic Congressman from South Carolina, imply that some of the Republican opposition to Rice is racially-motivated.  Clyburn argues that racial code language has been used to define Ms. Rice to be unqualified for the position.   I don’t disagree with Clyburn entirely:  We know that Republicans don’t tend to like black people unless they are working for them on their front porch.

But here’s where Clyburn is getting it wrong: It’s easy to call a Republican a racist when he says something that we don’t like, but Clyburn, Al Sharpton and others barely say a peep when the racism is lofted by a fellow Democrat.   Vice President Joe Biden has hurled enough racial insults to be an honorary member of the Tea Party, yet the negroes around him usually have nothing to say.

So, here’s the deal:  Neither the Democrats nor the Republicans have the right to call one another racist.  Divisions of race are typically trumped by party line affiliations, and both parties love the black people that are giving them support.  So, rather than trying to morph the Susan Rice debate into a Spike Lee/Malcolm X/Jim Crow discussion, why don’t we just see if she’s qualified for the job?

Democrats should defend Susan based on her qualifications and stop playing the race card.  Republicans need to stop using the Benghazi tragedy as a political weapon and focus on ways to make our diplomats safer.  Any other kind of political nonsense is both counter productive and ultimately unAmerican.

Dr. Boyce Watkins is a Finance Professor at Syracuse University and author of the book, “Black American Money.” To have Dr. Boyce commentary delivered to your email, please click here.



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  1. It is not surprising that Gen. Powell and these scholarly women with Stanford connections allowed themselves to be used to mislead the American public to achieve political objectives for their respective presidents. It’s the nature of the American political beast to “sacrifice truth on an altar of self-interest.”

    This is nothing new for Dr. Susan Rice, whom even Samantha Power (rumored to replace Rice at the UN) referred to as one of the “Bystanders to Genocide” during the massive ethnic conflict in 1994 in Rwanda.

    As Yahoo reported: “There are other issues with Rice’s record, both as U.N. ambassador and earlier as a senior Clinton administration official, that are all but certain to come out at any confirmation hearing, many of them concerning her performance in Africa. Critics say that since her failure to advocate an intervention in the terrible genocide in Rwanda in 1994 — Bill Clinton later said his administration’s unwillingness to act was the worst mistake of his presidency — she has conducted a dubious and naïve policy of looking the other way at allies who commit atrocities, reflecting to some degree the stark and emotionless realpolitik sometimes associated with Obama.”

    However, the real issue is the foreign policy fiasco which Libya has become for the Obama Administration. The Ghost of Qaddafi is coming home to roost.

  2. If they are upset over the possibility of Rice being name Secretary of State how are they going to act when Eric Holder is nominated to the Supreme and Governor DeVall Patrick is named to replace Holder as Attorney General or the head of HomeLand Security? Payback is HELL!

  3. She’s got a job and to be truthful if I went to my boss with information that was completely off kilter, and it hurt the other employees and company, a promotion probably wouldn’t be n my future .. why should we treat any of them different? The SEC chairwoman quit yesterday. I listened to a panel of NPR that talked about how that department is neutered anyway! Wall street is entrenched in all of the folks in the District and that’s that. If Rice’s job will be to kill more people of color then the hell with her also. She still would serve the white corporate power elite Dr. Boyce! !! And. .?… Hotep

  4. Good reading, Ithink Ambassador Rice would make a good Secretary of State.Black or White it's the Quaifications that counts.And from what I see she has that.

  5. Rep. James Clyburn an elected Democratic Congressman from South Carolina or a "carnival barker" like you? I will take Jim Clyburn everytime!

  6. So it's come down to "you're a racist if you make any negative comment about a black person right or wrong" so if she were white and made the same comments would it have been ok to say she lied?

    • The fact is, whether she inadvertantly gave misnformation about who were the perpetrators or not, does not change that people died. Is anyone claiming that she acted maliciously? No, it's all about politics and the scramble to rule. Rice gave msinformation becaus she was misnformed. I don't liken it to Powell's gullbility or Condoleezza' willngness to go along with what ever makes her seem part of the "good ole boy" network

  7. Very succinct piece and straight to the point. The politics in this wreaks and because of the racial politics that are ever present now, we can't even make that distinction…good read!

  8. Doc, I don’t think you can compare the dems and repuds racial implications. The dems do not attack black republicans because of skin color.

  9. Racism is much more prevalent in the Repugnant Party!