Barack Obama’s national security adviser Susan Rice would have ticked off the woke politics box, but her foreign policy failures and lack of domestic experience ultimately made someone else Joe Biden’s running mate.
On Tuesday, hours before Senator Kamala Harris of California was announced as Biden’s VP pick on the Democrats’ 2020 ticket, the betting markets had pivoted to Rice.
This was based on her taking a leave of absence from her New York Times opinion column and selling off stocks in Netflix, as well as the rumor mill fueled by her conspicuous absence from the list of named speakers at next week’s Democratic National Convention.
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Picking Rice would have been in line with Biden’s promise to nominate a woman, but also the insistence of the Democrat base for a running mate “of color,” what with her being of Jamaican descent. Not only has she held prominent posts in the Obama administration, as US ambassador to the UN and then the national security adviser, she has also fully endorsed the Democrats’ obsession with Russia.
Rice is also a blank slate when it comes to domestic policy, which enables the Democrats to project their hopes and dreams on her while not giving Republicans anything to criticize, as was recently pointed out in the Federalist.
That’s not the case with Rice’s foreign policy career, however. Her appointment as national security advisor in 2013 was fiercely controversial mainly because as ambassador to the UN she had blamed the 2012 Benghazi attack on a YouTube video critical of Islam – falsely, as it turned out.
She was one of the most outspoken advocates for the disastrous US-led intervention in Libya in 2011, which turned the once most prosperous nation in Africa into a warlord-ridden anarchy where African migrants were sold in open-air slave markets and Islamic State (IS, formerly ISIS) terrorists even set up shop at one point. Rice later advocated for a similar intervention in Syria.
.@TomCottonAR: “Susan Rice was the Typhoid Mary of the Obama Administration foreign policy.
Every major debacle in President Obama’s tenure, Susan Rice was right in the middle of.” pic.twitter.com/VIW6OFXyJr
— Washington Examiner (@dcexaminer) August 11, 2020
During Rice’s Africa days, she reportedly objected to characterizing the 1994 massacres in Rwanda as genocide, according to fellow NYT columnist Bret Stephens.
“If we use the word ‘genocide’ and are seen as doing nothing, what will be the effect on the November [congressional] election?” she said on an interagency conference call, according to her future successor at the UN and fellow Obama adviser Samantha Power – though Rice has denied this.
Most recently, and perhaps most importantly, Rice authored the strange memo about how the Obama administration’s investigations of the Trump campaign were conducted “by the book.” Composed and emailed to herself on the eve of Trump’s inauguration, the memo has since been brought into question as evidence emerged of Obama, Biden, and Rice herself being very much involved in going after her successor Michael Flynn, in ways that were anything but “by the book.”
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Between never having run for elected office and the prospect of “relitigation of a bunch of idiotic controversies” – presumably Benghazi and Spygate – even some staunch Democrats such as Talking Points Memo’s Josh Marshall were skeptical of making her the running mate.
2/ For clarity, I have nothing against Susan Rice. Secretary of State, NSA, great. But she has no record in electoral politics ( big problem for veep candidate ) and she brings relitigation of a bunch of idiotic controversies.
— Josh Marshall (@joshtpm) August 11, 2020
Having Biden as the candidate allowed Democrats to claim any investigation into his dealings in Ukraine during his term as VP amounted to ‘soliciting foreign election interference.’ They actually went ahead and impeached President Donald Trump in the House over that very issue, back in December, though ultimately failing to oust him from office. Having Rice as Biden’s running mate might have allowed the party to similarly foreclose any investigation of spying on Trump, on the same pretext.
While that would have been perfect from the standpoint of protecting the Democrats from probes, it doesn’t answer any questions about what might happen if Biden actually wins. The aging former VP has already said he would not run for a second term – and is not really expected to serve out the first, either. His running mate is widely understood to be the Democrats’ actual choice for the White House.
In the end, Rice’s foreign policy baggage seems to have been too much for the party, which chose Harris. She also checks off diversity boxes as Jamaican and Indian, and while her prosecutorial past is problematic in the age of “defund the police,” the Democrats apparently think it’s nothing their allies in the media can’t fix.
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