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The War On Rice


I’ve been meaning to write about the phony narrative that John McCain et al. have tried to turn into a pseudo-scandal to trash Susan Rice.  I would hope that everyone here has learned to see the con.   But just in case, let me put it this way: McCain’s wankery is too much for Joe Lieberman to tolerate.  (Let that sink in for a while.)  Or let me put it another way: Bob Schieffer, Dana Milbank, and needless to say MoDo are trying to sell the pseudo-scandal.  I rest my case.

By the way, I’m glad Somerby brought up one of the very lowest points of MoDo’s dismal career, her trashing of Judith Steinberg Dean:

She is a ghost in his political career. She has never even been to Iowa, and most reporters who have covered Howard Dean’s quest here the last two years would not recognize her if she walked in the door, which she is not likely to do, since she prefers examining patients to being cross-examined by voters and reporters.

The first hard evidence most people had that Howard Dean was actually married came with a startling picture of his wife on the front page of Tuesday’s Times, accompanying a Jodi Wilgoren profile.

In worn jeans and old sneakers, the shy and retiring Dr. Judith Steinberg Dean looked like a crunchy Vermont hippie, blithely uncoiffed, unadorned, unstyled and unconcerned about not being at her husband’s side — the anti-Laura. You could easily imagine the din of Rush Limbaugh and Co. demonizing her as a counterculture fem-lib role model for the blue states.

Right, we have to be concerned about Rush Limbaugh trashing Steinberg Dean through a lens of creepy gender politics. And yet I swear on a remainder table full of copies of Are Men Necessary? that in the early days of this blog there were still a lot of liberals who gave MoDo a pass because her content-free snark was sometimes directed at Dick Cheney.

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  • Rob

    Are they the same ones who give Aaron Sorkin a pass still?

  • commie atheist

    Reporters cover whatever McCain does.

    Why? I really have no desire to hear anything the man has to say, or do, and I’m sure most Americans feel the same way.

    • Scott Lemieux

      Well, the man was elected president in 2008. Or so I’ve inferred from Sunday talk shows.

    • mark f

      Are you questioning Senator McCain’s integrity?

      • Hogan

        “Are you impugning, sir, that this uniform might be for sale? This uniform that bears the three stars that indicate my ratings? Bedecked with ribbons that represent every theater of war? Who wore it last in our proud company? This full-dress uniform, W dash 2565, seen in Our Finest Hours, in Ruthless Combat, in Dogfights Over Broadway, and worn out finally, here on this spot, in Parallel Hell. What is it worth? How much do I hear?”

        “That’s metaphysically absurd, man! How do I know what you hear?”

        “I didn’t hear that!”

        “Five bucks!”

        “I heard that!”

        • commie atheist

          McCain won’t be happy until we’re ALL singing “We’re Bringing the War Back Home”…

          • Hogan

            The accursed is advised of his absence of rights under the Secret Code of Military Toughness and will behave accordingly.

        • Rob in Buffalo

          Sold! A complete price, only two-ninety-five HUNDRED dollars, in easy monthly payments of twenty dollars a week, twice a week and never on Sunday!

  • jon

    I’m glad to see that the Republicans are all over this issue, like white on Rice.

    • Major Kong

      I see what you did there.

  • rea

    “A narrative (or story) is any account that presents connected events”–Wikipedia

    I’m not sure that McCain on Benghazi qualifies.

    • IM

      A tale, told by an idiot, full of sound and fury, signifying nothing.

  • Bruce Vail

    I hold no brief for McCain, but it is amazing to see Rice’s defenders argue that she is guilty of nothing except repeating the lies and distortions outlined for her by the CIA. Isn’t this the Colin Powell defense?

    • Malaclypse

      Isn’t this the Colin Powell defense?

      Well, if Rice’s dissembling leads to a few hundred thousand deaths, then they will be the same type of thing. Otherwise, not so much.

      • John (not McCain)

        One can’t help feeling that conservatives would be a lot happier about this whole situation if only more than 4 Americans had been killed. Many more.

        • Incontinentia Buttocks

          Four is plenty for a Blutfahne.

          • IM

            Not yet. We are at the point there Rice and Obama stabbed our men in Benghazi in the back, if you know what I mean

            • IM

              Meanwhile, the republicans are im Felde unbesiegt if not for that treacherous Ronmney/ACORN/the liberal media.

      • Bruce Vail

        Mmmm…excellent point.

        In any event, a willingness to mindlessly mouth the lies of the CIA proves that Rice is a qualified candidate for Secy of State.

        Go, Obama!

        • brewmn

          That word “lies.” I don’t think it means what you think it means.

        • rea

          It would be helpful to your attempt to construct a narrative if you could identify anything she said that wasn’t true.

          • Hogan

            I think he’s basically a vending machine: put in a coin labeled “CIA” and you get back “LIES LIES LIES LIES.”

            • Bruce Vail

              Geez, grow up.

              The CIA has never made any fuss about the fact that it uses lies and deceptions to carry out its missions. The attack at Benghazi was not an attack on a US diplomatic outpost, but on a CIA operations center

              • rea

                That’s certainly one completely evidence-free theory.

                • IM

                  Let’s assume it is true.

                  But that is not what the republicans are complaining about – so what?

              • tonycpsu

                Shorter Bruce Vail: These goalposts look better over… here. Hey, look, an eagle!

              • The CIA has never made any fuss about the fact that it uses lies and deceptions to carry out its missions.

                Thanks to Bruce Vail, I now realize that all men are named John.

      • Observer

        Well, if Rice’s dissembling leads to a few hundred thousand deaths, then they will be the same type of thing.

        Not so fast.

        The left crucified Powell, but defend Rice for exactly the same assertions that they were given this info by the intel community.

        Subsequent events have exactly zero impact on whether these people were honest or not.

    • Craigo

      1. Genuinely mistaken information is not a lie or a distortion.

      2. Susan Rice had five days; Colin Powell had at least five months

      3. The information provided by intelligence professionals to Colin Powell and the information presented by Colin Powell were not remotely similar.

      • Kurzleg

        Add the fact that Benghazi is…where? Oh yeah, in the middle of nowhere. So even if the CIA isn’t being truthful, on whom does one rely to get the truth, especially in the timeframe in question?

    • IM

      But did the CIA distort anything? – at the day after the attack their information was limited.

      Powell had months.

      • Incontinentia Buttocks

        I think it’s a fair question whether the CIA distorted anything. But even if they did, that wasn’t Rices fault or responsibility,

        • Incontinentia Buttocks


        • Right. It’s not just that what Powell said was vastly more damaging, not only should he have known that must of what he was saying was bullshit he apparently knew that most of what he was saying was bullshit. There’s no comparison with Rice at all.

          • Jesse Levine

            I think everyone involved was dissembling in order to cover for the CIA’s operation in Benghazi, which was apparently an open secret in Libya, but not known here. It doesn’t make Rice a bad person, but the only available target, because the Man Called Petraeus was at the heart of the creation of the public response, and he is off limits for the right.

    • BigHank53

      Have you read the transcript of Rice’s comments? It’s full of “at this point in time” and “what we know now” and similar ass-covering. If Powell had been half as diffident at the UN the only penalty Iraq would have gotten would have been an offsides kick, not an invasion.

      • commie atheist

        Yeah, I’m really not getting the outrage over the totally innocuous, hedged comments she made, which even Schieffer couldn’t (or wouldn’t) accurately repeat. Must be something else going on.

    • Jon H

      Please get the wingnut talking points straight.

      The CIA had the honest truth of what happened.

      Nefarious political operatives at the White House dropped parts of the information the CIA provided, and that is what Rice said on TV.

      (Never mind that the CIA approved what was said. Or that the CIA isn’t the only intelligence agency that would have input on intelligence matters – State has their own intel people, and there’s the DNI, etc.)

    • TT

      Nothing shouts “Equivalence!” quite like comparing rushed, hazy, and still-developing intelligence from a terrorist attack that happened only days beforehand to a year-and-a-half-long campaign of propaganda, deceit, and underhandedness perpetrated by people who’d had a hard-on for invading Iraq for a dozen years. Well played, sir.

      • Cody

        I had the odd feeling I was reading a Fox News broadcast.

        This explains a lot. It was obviously Fair and Balanced.

    • Random

      No it’s not even remotely like the WMD issue at all. For starters we advanced the WMD bogus intel for months in advance, during which the CIA repeatedly fought with the administration to get it to stop misrepresenting their reports. The administration was told over and over again that every one of their conspiracy theories about Saddam were wrong, they just didn’t care so long as Karl Rove got his war. The administrations public statements brooked no possibility of any sort that the intel was subject to re-evaluation or was anything less than iron-clad. The written record of public statements just baldly contradicts the comparison between the two instances.

      • Random

        Furthermore the presentation of intel over Benghazi wasn’t part of a pre-ordained plan to advance a policy (invade and occupy Iraq no matter what the intel says). It was just reporting on what the current state of the intel was, she wasn’t saying “Based on this intel let’s invade Guam.”

    • Richard

      No. Rice read her talking points on some Sunday morning talk shows and wasn’t seeking support for some military action (or action of any sort). Powell read his talking points to the UN and was seeking UN support for an invasion of Iraq. Big difference.

    • Isn’t this the Colin Powell defense?

      Are we pretending that the Bush administration didn’t mutilate the CIA’s information beyond recognition?

      Or are we inventing a conspiracy theory about the Obama administration doing the same thing?

    • cpinva

      unlike powell, amb. rice had no reason to believe she was being lied to by the cia. why would she, it isn’t like the president was trying to convince the country/world to let him invade anyone.

      except repeating the lies and distortions outlined for her by the CIA. Isn’t this the Colin Powell defense?

  • rea

    the lies and distortions outlined for her by the CIA.

    In what respect were they lies and/or distortions?

    • Random

      They weren’t lies or distortions, they are remarkable for how different they are from the WMD claims which were presented as 100% accurate and the absolute final word, we must invade now. That’s not at all what happened here.

  • So even the Liberal Maureen Dowd . . .

    • Random

      She’s liberal if there’s a Republican in the White House and conservative if there’s a Democrat in the White House. It’s almost as if she were a shameless opportunist or something….

      • IM

        Nothing so complicated. Maureen is cooler then everybody else and policy is boooring!.

        • Random

          Actually your theory better explains the appearances than mine, I recant.

      • Warren Terra

        About a decade ago, Dowd was doing a book tour for some memoir or something, and appeared on NPR’s Fresh Air, where she proudly gave a simply incredible account of herself: she said that she’d been made the New York Times White House Correspondent (during George HW Bush), but found the job to be excruciatingly boring, because it involved policy and the like. Dowd bragged that she basically refused to cover such bland topics seriously until her editors, in desperation to get a White House Correspondent who’d take the beat seriously, promoted her to an Op-Ed column. The incredible thing was Dowd’s apparent pride in the tale, which seemed to the listener to be an indictment of everyone involved, and especially of Dowd.

    • cpinva

      you dream, sir!

      So even the Liberal Maureen Dowd . . .

  • Halloween Jack

    I don’t know about the early days of LGM, but I’ve never given Dowd a pass; aside from “her famous old loathing of liberal women” (to use the Daily Howler’s phrase), she’s willing to pick up any meme being propagated by the Village and run with it in order to get another column out. Any motivation that she might have to change up her act or even lightly examine her motivations for what she does probably went out the window when she got her Pulitzer; I think that she was totally sincere when she thanked Bill Clinton, in her acceptance speech, for not telling Monica Lewinsky to stop flashing her thong and go make some copies or something.

    • Oh, I think most liberal bloggers were good on MoDo, including you of course. Commenters, OTOH, tended to me a lot more generous.

      • cpinva

        really? in what alternate universe?

        Commenters, OTOH, tended to me a lot more generous.

        no doubt her mom & dad, if commenting on a blog, would have said nice things about her. aside from them, i can’t ever recall (and it would stick out, because of its rarity) a commenter being more generous to her, anywhere.

        not only is she clinically insane, but when she was awarded a pulitzer, it immediately destroyed that award’s credibility.

    • Halloween Jack

      That’s a great example of her hypocrisy on the subject. I remember another critique of her in which her attack on the Clinton Administration for painting Monica Lewinsky as “a little bit nutty and a little bit slutty” (David Brock’s description of Anita Hill) is followed by an example of MoDo doing the exact same thing herself.

  • catclub

    I think this is psychological backlash against another black woman, last name Rice, who was not excoriated for incompetence and lying to the US public.

    I remember a movie: High ranking person goes onto the Captain’s deck without permission- nothing happens. Low ranking person seems to think that is ok. Serious bad things happen to that person.
    vengeance on the scapegoat.

  • Jon H

    “I think this is psychological backlash against another black woman, last name Rice, who was not excoriated for incompetence and lying to the US public.”

    Frankly, it’s more likely just that they’re angry that a second black woman Secretary of State named Rice would dim the spotlight on the Republican one.

    Either that, or this Rice hasn’t been sufficiently deferential to Israel, somehow.

  • david mizner

    Don’t worry, John Bolton knows how to get to the bottom of the Bengazi attack, a little rendition. a little Gitmo, a little torture…easy as 1,2,3

    Fox’s Bolton: To Investigate Benghazi, “Use Rendition” To Put Suspects In Guantanamo Bay And “Try A Little Gentle Persuasion”


    • witless chum

      To be fair, that’s his solution for everything from ordering takeout to maintaining his mustache.

      • Craigo

        I always assumed that it was the mustache performing the “interrogations.”

    • Well, as Matt Stoller says, if anything an administration where sane people like Bolton had a policymaking role would be an improvement. We progressives are supposed to have stopped caring about torture, right?

      • Malaclypse

        I thought the argument was that Senate Democrats would reliably block all Romney’s appointments, while never going into recess.

        • IM

          How has Stoller reacted to the election results? Anybody dared* to find out?

          *bored enough

        • rea

          And anyway, after Romney got us into a pointless war in the Middle East, nobody would ever vote Republican again, right?

        • I thought the argument was that John Bolton was going to waterboard the Senate Democratic caucus.

          I am least 90% opposed to that.

      • david mizner

        It was amazing that Obama won in the face of opposition from Stoller…

        But probably Prez was able to prevail because LGM was so fearless and diligent in quashing the five-person anti-Obama movement on the left. Take a bow, fellas.

        • IM

          Fine. But didn’t you supply like half the comments on these Stoller threads?

          You can’t have it both ways, you know

      • Jesse Levine

        Which ones are the Trotskyites?

  • This Benghazi thing is the Republicans’ desperate attempt to gain something, anything, after getting waxed in the election.

    The measure of their desperation is that they’ve brought out the big guns right away. And have no doubt, McCain and Graham are their big guns in the Village. Both managed to remain unaffiliated in Village minds with Boehner & McConnell’s “oppose Obama on everything” strategy that failed to accomplish anything.

    Benghazi is to this election as the Tea Party was to the 2008 election. Something, anything.

    If Obama and the Democrats are serious about their ability to govern for the next two years, they will end the filibuster, for presidential appointments at least, and ram Susan Rice down their throats. And put Elizabeth Warren where she will do the most damage to the financiers.

    Let them howl. They aren’t going to cooperate until they after they’re done howling.

    • JKTHs

      Yeah isn’t it amazing that an embassy attack has held the news cycle for more than 2 months? If that was the case for all the other ones the media would have no time to report on anything else.

  • catclub

    How does the war on Rice compare to the war on buttermilk? Or pancakes? Or buttermilk pancakes?

    • Bill Murray

      I think they are Ranch pancakes, now

  • Whatthe

    Checking in late, but there’s something here I just don’t get. How is that Dowd quotation a trashing of Mrs. Dean? It seems pretty straightforward and sympathetic to me. Seems like a reasonable description of a conceivable person. Was there something else in the column that really did trash her?

  • Ryan/Romney 2016

    I think a lot of you liberals are forgetting that Obama allowed the Benghazi attack to happen so as to further his sharia anti-colonial grip . There’s a couple movies (2016 Obama’s America and Dream from My Real Father) that offer some irrefutable evidence.

  • cpinva

    ms. dowd has been clinically insane since i first set my eyes on one of what passes for her “columns”. she is deeply in need of professional medical help, and is clearly not getting. i don’t if it is the result of the catholic school girl in her shrieking about not being married with children, as she should have been, or she’s just always been nuts, and really, does it matter? no, it doesn’t. that anyone takes her seriously, except maybe her fellow asylum inmates, has always surprised me. that anyone pays her, for the drivel that passes (like gas) through her pen, simply astounds me. just a perfect example of the complete degradation of the nyt’s.

  • bradP

    Tod Kelly has a good piece on why this should be music to your ears. I especially like this part for the mountains of hyperlinks (click)

    Imagine as well that in this universe the media machine had not spent the past four years trying to convince Americans that Barack Obama was born in Kenya… or that he was a Kenyan Anti-Imperialist (or that that’s even a thing)… or that he was raised as a Muslim in a madrassa… or that he was the secret illegitimate son of Malcolm X… or that he pals around with terrorists… or that, despite having been President, a Senator, and the head of the Harvard law Review, he is unable to speak in coherent sentences without the use of a teleprompter… or that he is working with the Muslim Brotherhood… or that he’s working with George Soros to turn you into a Communist… or that he celebrates the killing of cops… or that he’s replacing FBI agents with Muslim thugs for the next phase… or that he’s created Death Panels to kill all the old people… or that he wants to create a Nazi Youth Program to brainwash your child… or that he’s secretly bringing 100 million Muslims to America in order to do something Muslimy… or that he is about to make it illegal to go to church… or that his campaign killed his grandmother to cover up his nation of origin… or that he and is wife use the word “whitey”… or that he and Michelle’s playful fist bump was really a terrorist call sign… or that he is planning to give US islands to Russia… or that he killed Andrew Breitbart… or that he refuses to salute the flag… or that any government statistic that makes the economy look like its getting better is a fake, but any that shows the economy isn’t is real… or that he has white slaves fling kittens high in the air at the White House Trap & Skeet Range (ok, ok, I made that one up)… or that he might be the Anti-Christ… or that he exiled his gay lover… or that he secretly speaks Arabic… or that he was planning on faking an assassination attempt to garner sympathy before this election… or that he faked Bin Laden’s death… or that (because, it really, really is my favorite) he tries to quietly seduce the nation into submission with pictures of pirates.

  • David Mathias

    By the way, I’m glad Somerby brought up one of the very lowest points of MoDo’s dismal career, her trashing of Judith Steinberg Dean:

    Is the quoted text really “trashing”? I cannot even decide if Maureen Dowd’s content-free snark is more or less annoying than the context-free nitpicking of Bob Somerby (although I admit that I no longer bother to read either of them).

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