New York Times columnist David Brooks told PBS’s “NewsHour” on Friday that Republican Sen. John McCain has been critical of U.N. Ambassador Susan Rice because of both personal animosity and his loyalty to Massachusetts Democratic Sen. John Kerry, who along with Rice is rumored to be on the shortlist to become the next secretary of state.
“I guess my theory is that she’s a sharp-tongued, blunt person, and, in the past, she has taken some shots at John McCain and others, and so this is their chance,” Brooks said. “They have no wellspring of sympathy with her, the way they actually probably do with John Kerry, her potential rival to be the next secretary of state, having taken a bunch of delegation trips with Kerry around the world. And so I suspect there’s a lot of old history here that is bubbling up.”
Brooks defended Rice’s Sept. 16 tour of Sunday morning talk shows, when she insisted that intelligence reports indicated the Sept. 11 terrorist attack on the U.S. Embassy in Libya was merely a spontaneous, crowd-driven response to an anti-Islam YouTube video.
The administration eventually acknowledged that the Libya attack was a well-planned assault, and former CIA Director David Petraeus recently testified that it was immediately apparent to intelligence officials that a simple mob was not responsible for the incident.
Top Republicans, including McCain and Sen. Lindsey Graham, have said that Rice’s inaccurate statements disqualify her from becoming the next secretary of state. (RELATED VIDEO: MSNBC vice president says racism is motivating attacks on Rice)
“Personally, I don’t think it should be disqualifying if Obama decides to choose her as the next secretary of state,” Brooks continued. “Listen, she’s ambassador to U.N. She’s not in charge of intelligence, and she’s not in charge of intelligence reports. It is simultaneously true that they do seem to have scrubbed the intelligence report that she got of any al-Qaida ention. That was probably done within the intelligence community herself.”
“Her job as U.N. ambassador was just to tell what that intelligence report said on the Sunday shows, and that’s what she did,” Brooks said. “So, I don’t think there’s any reason to disqualify her based on anything that’s happened in the last year. And, frankly, I guess I would cut her a little slack for some of the political attacks she’s taken. So, I guess I don’t agree with [Lindsey] Graham and McCain on this one. But if you’re going to be a diplomat, you should probably be diplomatic all the way around.”