I’m not following the Republicans’ anti-Susan Rice jihad very closely, but I’ve got the feeling some it has to do with her being a woman. I normally can’t take Ruth Marcus, but kudos to her for writing this:
For perspective on this complex question, it helps to return to 1974 and the nomination of another woman, Alice Rivlin, to head the Congressional Budget Office.
As Rivlin tells the story, the office had just been created, she was selected by a search committee — and the House Budget Committee chairman made clear his adamant, gender-based opposition.
“Over his dead body was a woman going to run this organization,” Rivlin recalled at an Atlantic magazine “Women of Washington” lecture last year.
Writing on ForeignPolicy.com, Rice’s Clinton administration colleague David Rothkopf called her “hard-headed and prickly.” But, Rothkopf added, “The nonsense that she is somehow not qualified for the job is indefensible. . . . As for her temperament, raising it is pure sexism. Why is she called abrasive, when clearly, similar toughness was hailed in our most powerful and respected secretaries of state — from Henry Kissinger to George Shultz to James Baker?”
It goes too far to say pure sexism, but I think gender plays a role, however subconscious. My analysis assumes that the Rice critique does not stem solely from her comments on a single Sunday morning of talk-show rounds.
Something more is going on here: A touch of chummy old-boy (and old-girl, for that matter) networkism in support of Senate colleague John Kerry. A residue of bristling over previous encounters (see Rice’s tart 2008 comments about then-GOP presidential nominee John McCain).
More and more, I see most politics as a prestige/power battle, usually pitting some old guard — men, the rich, white people generally, the DC establishment — against the plebes — women, the middle-class, the blahs, vituperative foul-mouthed bloggers. There’s probably more to it than that, but I doubt there’s all that much more.