Susan Rice, the American ambassador to the UN and heiress-apparent to run the State Department, may be no Condoleezza Rice, it’s still too early to tell.
But she certainly knows more foreign policy than Sarah Palin, whom Rice’s primary critic, Sen. John McCain, actually chose to be his vice-presidential candidate.
Palin couldn’t have found the continent Benghazi was on if you’d spotted her the correct hemisphere.
McCain should look in the mirror before he criticizes people so partisanly and inaccurately. He should also compare Rice and Palin’s backgrounds. The former is a phi beta kappa Stanford grad, a Rhodes scholar with a masters and doctorate from Oxford, where her dissertation won honors. Palin? You know the story.
And the social media messaging prior to the November election also held merit in describing past attacks on U.S. embassies around the world, the unfortunate toll of dead and injured, and who was responsible at the time — all without major senatorial investigations.
And let’s not forget that Condoleezza Rice, then President Bush’s National Security Adviser, and Secretary of State Colin Powell told the world that Iraq had WMDs. Where was McCain in those days? Defending Condi Rice as disseminating the best-possible information she had at the time. Really.
Yet none of this matters in crisis management. Rice asking to meet with McCain and other Republican senators today, and his softening of his position that she misled about the terrorist attack Sept. 11 on the U.S. consulate in Benghazi, Libya to protect the Obama administration before the presidential election are progressive steps.
But as a crisis, this has already gone way too far.
Someone needs to step forward with the facts and take Rice off the hook. Clearly, if you watch her broadcasts, she said her accounts were provided by intelligence officials, that they were preliminary and that they would be updated.
That she repeated what many had said in the wake of the deaths of U.S. Ambassador to Libya Christopher Stevens and three other heroic Americans is well-documented. At the time, there was the context of Middle Eastern anger over a film depicting the Prophet Mohammad in blasphemous terms.
What’s probably at the base of this is that an American facility and its key people were insufficiently protected on the anniversary of 9/11 in a hostile country that made them vulnerable to attack. After the Rice sideshow, this will become the bottom line, as it should. Who was asleep at this switch?
The Rice crisis would pass if leaders stood up, took responsibility for what they did wrong, disseminate the facts and maybe offer a resignation or two from within the CIA or the State Department.
Even though President Obama took some responsibility in defending Rice in a recent news conference, not all the facts are out. Until that vacuum is filled with facts, critics’ supposition and speculation will rule.
It’s an easy fix. Just takes leadership and guts — and some admission of culpability.
But it gets harder each passing day.
The content of this blog is about crisis management and mismanagement in a digital age. It originates with Steve Bell, who spent 30 years as a journalist for the Associated Press and in four top editor positions at The Buffalo News. He is now Partner/Director of Public Affairs at Eric Mower + Associates, one of the nation’s largest independent advertising, integrated marketing and public relations agencies, with seven offices in the Northeast and Southeast. Learn more about EMA at http://www.mower.com. Steve’s blog is based on his own opinions and does not represent the views or positions of Eric Mower + Associates.