Last fall Republicans launched a series of scathing attacks on Susan Rice as the U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations became the primary target in an attempt to smear the Obama administration in the wake of Benghazi. They accused her of purposely misleading the country on the nature of the attacks on the U.S. consulate in Benghazi during her appearances on the Sunday news shows. At times, the attacks turned personal.
Arizona Senator John McCain accused her of “not being very bright.” New Hampshire Senator Kelly Ayotte said Rice showed “incompetence” or was “blatantly misleading the American people.” South Carolina Senator Lindsay Graham claimed she was “so disconnected to reality, I don’t trust her.”
As supportive as the president remained of her throughout the process, the attacks eventually led Rice to withdraw her name from consideration for Secretary of State. And Republicans, still not satisfied, continued to tarnish her name.
But this week, she’s been vindicated. The 94-pages of emails released by the White House show that Rice had nothing to do with crafting the talking points she read on September 16.
As the Washington Post’s analysis of the emails found:
“Susan E. Rice, the U.S. ambassador to the United Nations, who did not directly participate in the e-mail exchanges, appeared on a series of Sunday shows two days after the Petraeus briefing. ….
White House officials have argued that Rice was using talking points that reflected the administration consensus at that time, and the e-mails appear to support that contention.
The talking points, which were edited a dozen times between Sept. 14 and 15, did not reach Rice, whose office made several pleas for them to be sent as quickly as possible, until after 3 p.m. the day before she appeared on the shows.”
So now that she’s been cleared, where’s the apology?
“The GOP smear campaign against Ambassador Rice was vicious, personal, and wrong,” said Rev. Al Sharpton on PoliticsNation on Thursday. “That’s why she deserves an apology, but I won’t hold my breath.”
She may still have the last laugh. New reports indicate that Rice is expected to be named to the role of National Security Adviser, a post that will bring her into the Obama cabinet–without sending her to the Senate for confirmation.
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"During your working lives, you will have to reinvent yourselves many times," Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke told new graduates at Bard College at Simon's Rock on Saturday.
College graduates got some sage advice from Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke at their commencement ceremony Saturday.
"During your working lives, you will have to reinvent yourselves many times," Bernanke told new graduates at Bard College at Simon's Rock, a prestigious "early college," where students start their studies after completing tenth or eleventh grade in high school.
The Fed chairman spoke of the remarkable improvement in living standards brought by technological change over the last three centuries and critiqued the current IT revolution. Will it -- or will it not -- lead to just as many impressive improvements?
Some economists, he said, believe the economic transformation of the last 50 years doesn't match that of the 50 years prior. Perhaps a slowdown in innovation means computers and IT "will not transform our lives as dramatically as previous revolutions have," Bernanke said, before turning to a more positive outlook.
He quoted the famous British economist John Maynard Keynes, who once remarked, "We are suffering just now from a bad attack of economic pessimism."
"Sound familiar?" Bernanke asked, nodding to current economic conditions.
"Humanity's capacity to innovate and the incentives to innovate are greater today than at any other time in history," he said.
The Fed chairman ended by stating the only economic certainty: "Change is the only constant."
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Republicans are worried one thing could screw up the political gift of three Obama administration controversies at once: fellow Republicans.
Top GOP leaders are privately warning members to put a sock in it when it comes to silly calls for impeachment or over-the-top comparisons to Watergate. They want members to focus on months of fact-finding investigations — not rhetorical fury.
Why the fuss? Well…
—“People may be starting to use the I-word before too long,” Sen. Jim Inhofe (R-Okla.) told a radio host, making plain impeachment was indeed the I-word in mind.
—“You could call #Benghazi Obama’s Watergate, except no one died,” Rep. Steve Stockman (R-Texas) wrote on Twitter.
—“It harkens back to the days of Richard Nixon and maintaining a political enemies list and treating the federal government as a tool to exact the administration’s retribution,” Sen. Ted Cruz told the National Review.
—“This is far worse than Watergate,” Rep. Michele Bachmann said of the IRS mess at a tea party rally.
—“I believe that before it’s all over, this president will not fill out his full term,” former governor and presidential candidate Mike Huckabee said on his own show before the IRS and AP flaps.
—A PPP poll found all of this to be mainstream Republican thinking, with 41 percent calling Benghazi the BIGGEST political scandal in HISTORY.
“We have to be persistent but patient,” Republican National Committee Chairman Reince Priebus told us. “I think where there’s smoke, there’s fire. If we present ourselves to the American people as intelligent, we’re going to be in a great place as far as showing that this administration is not transparent, is obsessed with power and hates dissent. But you don’t call for impeachment until you have evidence.”
It is important to remember that there is no evidence any of the specific controversies directly link to President Barack Obama himself. No one knows what the various congressional probes will turn up, but until there is a direct connection to the president, the best Republicans can probably do is use the three episodes to illustrate the dangerous reach — and what they see as pervasive incompetence — of the Obama government.
Meantime, the incentives for the incendiary are strong, as the PPP polls show: It helps Republicans raise money, get on Fox and excite conservatives. It also provides an easy way for someone like Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) to show skeptical conservatives that he is one of them — and therefore should not be challenged in an upcoming GOP primary. This is true for most House Republicans: Redistricting has left them far more threatened by a primary challenge from the right than by a general election challenge on the left.
A top Senate Republican leadership aide said Obama’s steps this week did nothing to diminish the GOP’s blood lust over the IRS, and said the coming investigation “has the capacity to be debilitating” for the administration. “It will take months, and it will ebb and flow in terms of its national attention,” the aide said. “But the ebbs will be white hot.”
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Read more: http://www.politico.com/story/2013/05/behind-the-curtain-why-the-gop-thinks-it-could-blow-it-91528.html#ixzz2TdCupJCb
One day after The White House released 100 pages of Benghazi emails, a report has surfaced alleging that Republicans released a set with altered text.
CBS News reported Thursday that leaked versions sent out by the GOP last Friday had visible differences than Wednesday's official batch. Two correspondences that were singled out in the report came from National Security Adviser Ben Rhodes and State Department Spokeswoman Victoria Nuland.
The GOP version of Rhodes' comment, according to CBS News: "We must make sure that the talking points reflect all agency equities, including those of the State Department, and we don't want to undermine the FBI investigation."
The White House email: "We need to resolve this in a way that respects all of the relevant equities, particularly the investigation."
The GOP version of Nuland's comment, according to CBS News: The penultimate point is a paragraph talking about all the previous warnings provided by the Agency (CIA) about al-Qaeda's presence and activities of al-Qaeda."
The White House email: "The penultimate point could be abused by members to beat the State Department for not paying attention to Agency warnings."
The news parallels a Tuesday CNN report which initially introduced the contradiction between what was revealed in a White House Benghazi email version, versus what was reported in media outlets. On Monday, Mother Jones noted that the Republicans' interim report included the correct version of the emails, signaling that more malice and less incompetence may have been at play with the alleged alterations.
In that April interim report on Benghazi (which Buck noted), the House Republicans cited these emails (in footnotes 56 and 57) to note an important point: "State Department emails reveal senior officials had 'serious concerns' about the talking points, because Members of Congress might attack the State Department for 'not paying attention to Agency warnings' about the growing threat in Benghazi."
Despite the White House's Wednesday move to release emails, Republicans continued to call for more information on Thursday.
"While these hundred are good and they shed light on what happened, we have nearly 25,000 that they haven't released," Rep. Jason Chaffetz (R-Utah) told Fox News on Thursday.
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The Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts has a new process to select artists who receive one of the nation's top arts prizes, the Kennedy Center Honors, after an outside group last year said Latinos have been largely excluded.
Under the revised process, the Kennedy Center will begin seeking recommendations from the public for the first time in the award's 35-year history. Recommendations can be submitted online beginning Thursday. The center will also seek more recommendations from a committee of artists.
To narrow the roster of potential honorees, the center is forming a new Special Honors Committee. Former honorees Chita Rivera and Yo-Yo Ma will serve on the panel, along with opera singer Harolyn Blackwell, dancer Damian Woetzel and two center board members, Elaine Wynn and Cappy McGarr. From there, the Kennedy Center chairman, president and award producers will create slates of potential honorees to balance the selections across artistic disciplines, and the executive committee of the center's board of trustees will make the final decision.
The Kennedy Center Honors have become a major cultural prize for excellence in dance, music, theater, movies or television. The honor includes a salute from the president and secretary of state each year, along with performances by top entertainers. The show is broadcast each December on CBS.
Last year, the National Hispanic Foundation for the Arts criticized the center, saying it has long excluded Latinos from the prize. Two of the more than 180 past honorees were Hispanics--Placido Domingo, the acclaimed Spanish tenor, and Rivera, the actress and singer of Puerto Rican descent. The group suggested potential Latino honorees could include Carlos Santana, Rita Moreno, Joan Baez, Gloria Estefan and others.
Giselle Fernandez, a former journalist who was born in Mexico and appointed by President Barack Obama to the Kennedy Center's board, said the revised process opens up a bigger universe of candidates for consideration.
"You're going to see much more diverse and expansive access to excellence in all disciplines, all realms and all communities," Fernandez said. She added that the Kennedy Center could provide a model for other organizations seeking to reflect the nation's diversity.
Beyond considering more Latinos, she said a broader selection process will be open "to all communities that perhaps didn't have access before because the process was too closed over the years." Facing criticism was uncomfortable but resulted in a better process, she said.
In January, the center announced a formal review of the Honors with an advisory panel that included Latino arts groups, such as the Latin Academy of Recording Arts and Sciences and the National Association of Latino Arts and Culture.
Kennedy Center Chairman David Rubenstein also met with Felix Sanchez of the National Hispanic Foundation for the Arts, who publicly criticized the center last year for excluding Latinos for years.
In addition to the revised selection process, the Kennedy Center said Thursday that it is committed to bolstering its track record on diversity and its relationship with the Hispanic community. The center is working to form a Latino Advisory Committee to meet quarterly, said spokesman John Dow.