By adding embattled U.N. Ambassador Susan Rice to his inner circle, Obama is provoking Republicans while bringing Chicago-style politics to the Beltway.
Choosing Rice as national security chief is a politically shrewd choice since she will not have to be confirmed by the Senate--she can take the job without facing-off with her Republican critics.
It’s also a clear show of confidence in Rice, who has been under nearly constant fire because of her role in the aftermath of September’s Benghazi attack. Days after four Americans were killed, including Ambassador Christopher Stevens, Rice appeared on NBC’s "Meet the Press" and other news networks and told the country that the attack was prompted by an Anti-Islam film produced in the United States.
"There's no question, as we've seen in the past with things like 'The Satanic Verses,' with the cartoon of the Prophet Muhammad, there have been such things that have sparked outrage and anger and this has been the proximate cause of what we've seen," Rice said.
“What happened in Benghazi was in fact initially a spontaneous reaction to what had just transpired hours before in Cairo, almost a copycat of the demonstrations against our facility in Cairo, prompted by the video,” Rice said.
Her statements later proved false as the government’s “talking points” emails revealed that the terrorist organization Al Qaeda was behind the attack.
Since then, Republicans have charged that Rice intentionally lied to protect the president before an election. They allege she downplayed the seriousness of the incident to prevent the president from looking soft on security issues.
Republican anger over their perception of Rice’s actions forced her to withdraw her name from consideration as Secretary of State. In recent months, Rice’s name has been synonymous with the alleged Benghazi cover-up, as Republicans continue to insist she misled the public.
Her appointment is a giant snub to Republicans by Obama who simply doesn’t care about their criticisms. Rice has been a willing sacrificial lamb for the White House, standing silent as Republicans accused her of lying. By making her an untouchable part of his inner circles, he’s rewarding her loyalty.
Obama is also sticking it to Republicans by forcing them to work with someone whom they’ve openly despised for months. Some have grudgingly said they’ll now work with her to keep the nation safe.
“I will not be petty. I will put my differences on Benghazi aside and work with her," Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-SC) said. John McCain (R-AZ) added on Twitter, "I’ll make every effort to work w/ her on important issues."
Republicans are already gearing up to challenge Obama’s pick to replace Rice, Samantha Power. In a book about genocide Power alleged the United States failed to meet its moral obligation to stop mass killings in Africa and the Balkans.
“I don’t know about you, but it might be helpful to have someone representing America at the UN who doesn’t think we are the source of world’s ills,” Keith Urbahn, a former chief of staff to former Pentagon chief Donald H. Rumsfeld, tweeted this morning.
Power will to be grilled on her book when she sits in front of the Senate for confirmation hearings, but she’s likely to get confirmed. Obama and his allies will find a way to get it done.
Both Rice and Power are bold, controversial picks that the White House knows will irk Republicans. But that doesn’t matter to the president. Nearly six years in office has shown Obama to be an expert at getting what he wants, no matter the opposition. That’s the Chicago way.