Susan Rice formally withdrew her name for consideration as the next secretary of state on Thursday. In doing so, she showed that she is a consummate politician, won’t cede ground to naysayers, and would have been an excellent choice for the job.
These are the qualities we should hope for in a secretary of state, especially given the state of the world and aggressive posture of "rivals" like Russia and China.
She's pure politics. On Thursday, she sent a letter to President Obama saying she was “fully confident” she would have been an effective secretary of state but was “convinced that the confirmation process would be lengthy, disruptive and costly to you and to our most pressing national and international priorities. That trade-off is simply not worth it to our country.” Shortly after, Rice hit the media circuit defending her decision and brushing back critics.
It was public relations blitz to control the narrative. By Thursday afternoon, NBCNews.com was carrying an exclusive with Rice and she had penned an Op-Ed in the Washington Post. Thursday night, NBC News’ interview with Rice aired on Rock Center with Brian Williams. Her talking points were, essentially, criticisms over Benghazi are unfounded and there are too many issues the country is facing for such a non-issue like her appointment to take center stage. She clearly had a strategy for withdrawing her name in a way that few, if any, other nominees to cabinet positions have executed.
In so doing, she showed the kinds of qualities we need right now in a secretary of state. Namely, someone who can play the political game and doesn't back down. Besides the attacks over Benghazi, Senators and others mostly thought she had the wrong personality or temperament to be a diplomat. Some described her as a “bull in a china shop.” But as Russians seek to grow their influence in the Middle East and China continues to manipulate its currency and accentuate trade imbalances, maybe that’s the exact quality we need in a diplomat right now: someone who is willing to break some china.
And lastly, it’s Obama’s cabinet. The fact that the hysteria of Washington derailed someone that he wanted as his spokesperson and adviser is a shame. She might have been just the person for these times.