President Obama had a rare “bring-it-on” moment when ABC News’s Jonathan Karl asked him about threats by Republican Sens. John McCain and Lindsey Graham to block the confirmation of Susan Rice, should he nominate her for secretary of state.
“If Senator McCain and Senator Graham and others want to go after somebody, they should go after me,” Obama said Wednesday at his East Room news conference, defending his U.N. ambassador from charges that she misled the public about attacks on Americans in Libya.
“For them to go after the U.N. ambassador . . . and to besmirch her reputation, is outrageous. And, you know, we’re after an election now.”
It was reminiscent of his put-down of McCain in early 2010, when at a health-care forum he reminded his former opponent: “The election’s over.”
Obama’s over-the-top defense of Rice was surprising, particularly in contrast to the president’s relative indifference in accepting the resignation of CIA chief David Petraeus, one of the most capable public servants. And it was disappointing, because McCain, even if wrong on the particulars, is right about Rice. She is ill-equipped to be the nation’s top diplomat for reasons that have little to do with Libya.