Why Oh Why Did Susan Rice Become a Republican Punching Bag?

Andrew Harrer/DPA via ZUMA

For indispensable reporting on the coronavirus crisis, the election, and more, subscribe to the Mother Jones Daily newsletter.

Susan Rice, the right’s favorite new¹ punching bag over the past few years, talks about her experience of continuing to be a punching bag even after she left government service:

I ask Rice why she thinks she became a target. She laughs, sort of. “I’ve spent a lot of time thinking about this. What do you think?”

I mention Benghazi, the moment when much of the right’s base became aware of Rice’s existence. “Does it start there?” she asks. She is not a person given to agitation, but here, Rice’s focus sharpens — she looks at me more directly, with heightened intensity. “And why me? Why not Jay Carney, for example, who was then our press secretary, who stood up more?”

Carney isn’t an African-American woman, of course….I point out that she has a reputation for being tough, and a strong-willed woman who seems sure of herself makes a certain kind of man nervous.

“Let me just put it this way,” she says. “I do not leap to the simple explanation that it’s only about race and gender. I’m trying to keep my theories to myself until I’m ready to come out with them. It’s not because I don’t have any.”

Well, I for one will be eager to hear her theories once Rice decides she’s ready. Rice is certainly the most unfairly maligned public servant of the past few years, all because she went on TV and told the truth about Benghazi. That was her real sin, of course.³

And as long as we’re on the subject, I’ll just take this opportunity to add that progressives didn’t exactly cover themselves in glory while Rice was being endlessly slandered by conservatives over Benghazi. For weeks they mostly held their tongues or damned her with faint praise (“she probably shouldn’t have mentioned the video….”). But Rice literally did nothing wrong. Zero. On her infamous Sunday show appearances, she told the absolute truth as it was then understood by the intelligence community. This was, unfortunately, a precursor to progressives also failing to aggressively defend Hillary Clinton over her emails. Why? I suppose because lots of progressives were afraid there might be a smoking gun somewhere and didn’t want to risk coming strongly to her defense and then looking foolish. Cowards. In the end, of course, we eventually learned that Clinton had also done literally nothing wrong and the FBI never had even a weak case against her.

¹As opposed to favorite longtime punching bags Hillary Clinton and Nancy Pelosi.²

²Both of whom are also women. Kinda makes you think, doesn’t it?

³Aside from being female and black, that is.

DOES IT FEEL LIKE POLITICS IS AT A BREAKING POINT?

Headshot of Editor in Chief of Mother Jones, Clara Jeffery

It sure feels that way to me, and here at Mother Jones, we’ve been thinking a lot about what journalism needs to do differently, and how we can have the biggest impact.

We kept coming back to one word: corruption. Democracy and the rule of law being undermined by those with wealth and power for their own gain. So we're launching an ambitious Mother Jones Corruption Project to do deep, time-intensive reporting on systemic corruption, and asking the MoJo community to help crowdfund it.

We aim to hire, build a team, and give them the time and space needed to understand how we got here and how we might get out. We want to dig into the forces and decisions that have allowed massive conflicts of interest, influence peddling, and win-at-all-costs politics to flourish.

It's unlike anything we've done, and we have seed funding to get started, but we're looking to raise $500,000 from readers by July when we'll be making key budgeting decisions—and the more resources we have by then, the deeper we can dig. If our plan sounds good to you, please help kickstart it with a tax-deductible donation today.

Thanks for reading—whether or not you can pitch in today, or ever, I'm glad you're with us.

Signed by Clara Jeffery

Clara Jeffery, Editor-in-Chief

We Recommend

Latest