Right Opinion

Is Rice Really So Bad?

Frank J. Fleming · Dec. 11, 2012

The Republicans’ opposition to Susan Rice’s potentially becoming the next secretary of state is pretty hard to understand.

It wasn’t long ago that Republicans were all for a different black woman named Condoleezza Rice taking the same job – is the GOP just bigoted about the name Susan?

Republicans’ stated objections to Rice make no sense. They complain that she’s “dishonest” and “incompetent,” to which she could easily respond, Well, duh, that’s why I work for the government.

When did Republicans start insisting on approving only competent, honest people, especially with regard to the Obama administration? Is it just me, or did that come completely out of left field?

I thought it was common knowledge that people who are good at things get jobs in the private sector, and those who are ambitious but not particularly useful find jobs in politics. So our expectations are similar to when we give small tasks to toddlers: As long as they don’t screw things up too badly, we consider them successes.

So what makes Rice so horrible? That she misled everyone about Benghazi by peddling the ridiculous story that the attack was in response to some YouTube video? Is that so exceptionally awful? (Didn’t the FDR administration insist for two weeks that the Pearl Harbor attack was a spontaneous response to an Abbott and Costello routine?)

This idea that President Obama should only appoint honest, competent people is really unfair. The guy is a Chicago politician; he’s probably never once met anyone like that.

Just look at his first Cabinet to see how out-of-the-blue this demand for competency is. He has a treasury secretary who couldn’t figure out how to pay his own taxes. His attorney general leads a Justice Department that somehow thought selling guns to Mexican drug cartels would have good results.

Then there are Obama’s secretaries of commerce, who were supposed to be promoting job creation and economic growth – who in the world knows what they’ve been up to these past four years?

Really, looking at the administration as a whole, Obama did better than we could have expected by appointing only one czar who was a Communist truther.

So, to be fair to Rice, Republicans should at least grade her on a curve. Is she really that awful … for an Obama appointee? That’s a pretty hefty charge that had better be backed up by a lot of evidence. Unless we really think she’ll give nuclear secrets to North Korea or accidentally burn down a foreign capitol building, she might even be above average for the Obama Cabinet.

Republicans need to have more realistic expectations. To the average American, the secretary of state just visits foreign countries and tries not to laugh at how silly they are – which is certainly something none of us want to do.

So as long as Rice is reasonably loyal to the United States (i.e., identifies it as one of her five favorite countries) and probably won’t accidentally start any wars (or, given recent history, not more than one), we can declare her as “good enough.” And what more can we expect from government?

Frank J. Fleming is the author of the books “How to Fix Everything in America Forever: The Plan to Keep America Awesome” (out now) and “Obama: The Greatest President in the History of Everything” (free for a limited time), writes columns for PJ Media and the New York Post, blogs at IMAO.us, and would vote a hundred times for Obama is not for Idaho’s racist voter ID law.