"By most appearances, [last] week started off well for U.N. Ambassador Susan Rice," says Chris Cillizza at The Washington Post. President Obama’s reputed top choice to replace outgoing Secretary of State Hillary Clinton had meetings planned with her biggest Republican critics in the Senate, and GOP opposition to her promotion seemed to be softening. But those meetings didn’t pacify her critics, and by the time the week was over, Republicans were criticizing her on the Sunday talk shows and it was clear Rice would face a grueling confirmation fight in the Senate. Democrats are backing Rice, and if Obama chooses to nominate her, she may still win approval in the Senate. But here are five reasons the president might consider looking elsewhere for his next top diplomat:
1. A Rice fight would cost valuable time and political capital The GOP’s main public beef with Rice is that five days after the deadly attack on the U.S. Consulate in Benghazi, Libya, she went on TV and said the attack grew out of spontaneous demonstrations that were hijacked by "extremists," when in fact there were no protests and the extremists were likely an armed militia with ties to al Qaeda. Republicans say she deliberately misled the public to help Obama’s re-election campaign; Rice and Democrats say she was just relaying CIA-approved talking points. But this fight is also personal for some of the senators, especially lead naysayer John McCain (R-Ariz.), says Mike Shortridge at The Washington Times. Rice earned McCain’s apparently eternal enmity in the 2008 presidential campaign by making "snide comments about him parading about Afghanistan in a flak jacket." Between Benghazi and bruised feelings, the GOP will "make a Rice confirmation battle bloody and protracted."