MSNBC’s Andrea Mitchell said this afternoon that Susan Rice’s withdrawal as a candidate for Secretary of State will not “help Republicans at all” because members of the party “forced out” a woman of color “before she was nominated.” For months now, Republicans, in an effort spearheadedby Sen. John McCain (R-AZ), have relentlessly pursued blocking Rice’s chances for a Secretary of State nomination. Mitchell explained her perspective on MSNBC earlier today:
MITCHELL: I think that this had become sort of an impossible challenge for her to be confirmed, that she realized that, the White House realized it as well. I think they know that they are on good political solid ground, as you were just pointing out. This is not going to help Republicans at all, the fact that a woman and a woman of color has been forced out of a confirmation process even before she was nominated.
Fellow MSNBC hosts Joe Scarborough and Mika Brzezinski similarly criticized the GOP last month for what “looks like a bunch of old white men running women out of Washington,” as Brzezinski said. “Do the Republicans really think this is going to help their brand?” Scarborough wondered, referring to the GOP’s campaign against Rice, adding:
“This is the first big fight following an election where Republicans got routed not just among African-Americans but among hispanics, among Asian-Americans. I really wonder do a bunch of old white guys…want to make their first big battle, post election, a battle going up against a younger woman of color?”
Rep. James Clyburn (D-SC) said in November that the use of racial “code words” was rampant in the GOP’s attacks on Rice.
Rep. James Clyburn (D-SC) this morning defended U.S. Ambassador to the U.N. Susan Rice, calling out Republican use of “code words” in attacking Rice’s professional capabilities.
Appearing on CNN, Clyburn, the number three Democrat in the House of Representatives and the highest-ranking African-American in Congress, added his voice to a growing number of lawmakers concerned with the appearance of the Republican Party potentially blocking a minority nominee to the President’s cabinet so soon after a bruising electoral loss among minorities.
In particular, Clyburn focused on a letter circulated by more than 90 House Republicans that uses terms like “incompetent” to describe Rice’s performance at the U.N. in discouraging Obama from nominating Rice to take over as Secretary of State:
CLYBURN: You know, these are code words. We heard them during the campaign. During this recent campaign, we heard [Romney surrogate John] Sununu calling our President ‘lazy’, ‘incompetent.’ These kinds of terms that those of us, especially those of us that who were born and raised in the South, we’ve been hearing these little words and phrases all of our lives. And we get insulted by them. Susan Rice is as competent as anyone you will find. And to place that word on her causes problems with people like Marcia Fudge and it certainly causes a problem with me. I don’t like those words. Say that she was wrong for doing it, but don’t call her incompetent.
Clyburn isn’t alone in his assessment of the issues the Republican Party is running up again in their pursuit of Rice. The hosts of MSNBC’s Morning Joe also were incredulous that the GOP would be looking for this fight, against a highly regarded woman of color, so quickly. Host Joe Scarborough, a Republican himself, was struck by how his party seemed unwilling to moderate its tone, with his co-host Mika Brzezinski saying, “It looks like a bunch of old white men running women out of Washington.”
Watch all three statements here:
Rice is currently being targeted by House and Senate Republicans for her role in the Obama administration’s response to the Sept. 11 attack against a U.S. diplomatic mission in Libya. While the intelligence community has provided ample evidence that the talking points that Rice delivered on Sept. 16 were accurate at the time, this has not stopped Republicans from preemptively seeking to block a Rice appointment to take over for out-going Secretary Hillary Clinton.
Earlier today, the Center for American Progress released Voter Suppression 101, a report documenting conservative efforts to disenfranchise voters through state restrictions on voting. At a press call accompanying the release, former Civil Rights Movement leader and current Congressman Jim Clyburn (D-SC) was asked for his personal feelings on seeing another wave of voter disenfranchisement after he fought so hard to end Jim Crow. His response was grim:
I cannot remember — even sitting in an Orangeburg County jail — when I had as much anxiety as I’m experiencing today. Back then, even when we were at the back of the bus and we were not able to sit down at lunch counters, we really felt strong that what’s happening to me here in Orangeburg, SC or Columbia, SC, ah, if I can get my plight before the United States Supreme Court, the promise of this country will be delivered for me. That’s what we felt, and I can remember our discussions in meetings — yeah, we’re going to jail now. We are going to be convicted. But we know that that conviction is going to be overturned by the United States Supreme Court.
This morning, Rep. James Clyburn (D-SC), the highest-ranking African American in the House, told CNN’s Candy Crowley this morning that he would not call Newt Gingrich a racist, but said the presidential candidate has been using language that appeals to those in the GOP who “will see President Obama as different from all other presidents that we’ve had.” Crowley asked if the term “food stamps president” was a racial comment. Clyburn replied that it’s similar to other racially-coded comments that are not explicitly racist:
CROWLEY: Is that necessarily a racist comment?
CLYBURN: It’s not necessarily so, but a welfare queen being uttered by Ronald Reagan is not necessarily a comment…but people know what that means. [...] All of this carries certain connotations that people know very, very well, and I think [Gingrich] practiced that perfectly.