President Obama has miffed Republicans again, this time by appointing Susan Rice as the next national security adviser. She will succeed Tom Donilon, who resigned today, June 5, 2013. Rice has long advised Obama on matters of foreign policy, but she’s taken some flak from Republican leaders since she announced, five days after last year’s Benghazi attacks, that the attacks were the unplanned result of a protest and not an intentional terrorist strike.
Rice had been in line to succeed Hillary Clinton as Secretary of State before her handling of the Benghazi affair lost her the support of the Republican Party. Obama doesn’t need the approval of Republicans in order to place Susan Rice in the role of national security adviser, because it’s not a cabinet position.
CNN columnist John Avlon has called the appointment of Susan Rice to the post of national security adviser a “slap in the face” of Republicans, who, it must be noted, appear distressed at the choice. Sen. Rand Paul (R-Ken.) told Fox News, “I can’t imagine that we would be keeping Ambassador Rice in any significant position, much less promoting her to an important position.” That is, of course, if Paul himself wins the presidential election in 2016.
Rep. Jason Chaffez (R-Utah) tweeted, “Judgement [sic] is key to national security matters. That alone should disqualify Susan Rice from her appointment.”
Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) was perhaps the most dignified in expressing his shock and horror over the situation. He tweeted, “Obviously I disagree [with Obama’s] appointment of Susan Rice as Nat’l Security Adviser, but I’ll make every effort to work [with] her on [important] issues.” McCain is billed as one of Rice’s most outspoken critics.
Whether or not Republican leaders approve of his choice, President Obama himself seems confident in Rice’s ability to oversee matters of national security. Obama said, “I am absolutely thrilled that she’ll be back at my side leading my national security team in my second term.” Some have interpreted this choice as evidence of the increased freedom Obama may be feeling in his second term, now that he no longer has to worry about getting re-elected.
As national security adviser, Rice will have a profound impact on the formation and implementation of U.S. foreign policy. She served as U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations during Obama’s first term, a post she will now pass on to Samantha Power, formerly of the National Security Council. In the 1990s, Rice served President Clinton in various roles on the National Security Council, as director for international organizations and peacekeeping, as a special assistant to the president and as senior director for African affairs.