Skip to main content
Part of complete coverage from

Mr. President, show the GOP who's boss

By Roland Martin, CNN Contributor
updated 6:40 PM EST, Fri November 30, 2012
U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations Susan Rice addresses the media following a UN Security Council meeting on July 11, 2012 .
U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations Susan Rice addresses the media following a UN Security Council meeting on July 11, 2012 .
STORY HIGHLIGHTS
  • GOP senators are criticizing Susan Rice for her comments about Benghazi attack
  • Roland Martin says the focus on Rice is unwarranted given her limited role on issue
  • He says President Obama should defy critics, pick Rice to be secretary of state
  • Martin: President should show that he can't be bullied by Republicans

Editor's note: Roland Martin is a syndicated columnist and author of "The First: President Barack Obama's Road to the White House." He is a commentator for the TV One cable network and host/managing editor of its Sunday morning news show, "Washington Watch with Roland Martin."

(CNN) -- Sens. John McCain, Lindsey Graham and Kelly Ayotte really want us to believe that their shameful behavior toward United Nations Ambassador Susan Rice is all about getting to the truth about what happened in Libya, but the truth is that this is the first salvo in a GOP war against President Barack Obama over the next four years.

Do they think Americans are dumb enough to believe that Rice, who had no responsibility over intelligence or approving security requests at the State Department, is the main person who should be answering their queries over what happened in Benghazi that led to the deaths of four Americans, including Ambassador Christopher Stevens?

Roland Martin
Roland Martin

These three continue to assert that Rice should have known better than to read talking points on several Sunday morning shows provided to her by the intelligence community, as well as provide an assessment that went outside of what she was told.

Is it fair that she be asked about those talking points? Of course. But to somehow try to pin the blame on her is downright offensive.

It has been amazing to watch the degree to which U.S. senators don't want to criticize Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, who has jurisdiction over the department. Yes, Clinton, and not Rice, oversees U.S. ambassadors across the world, and it is her department that denied the security requests from Stevens.

Become a fan of CNNOpinion
Stay up to date on the latest opinion, analysis and conversations through social media. Join us at Facebook/CNNOpinion and follow us @CNNOpinion on Twitter. We welcome your ideas and comments.



If there is anyone who should be answering questions about security of our consulate in Libya, it's Clinton. Instead, it's all Rice, all day.

McCain, Graham and Ayotte also want to know why the intelligence was so botched, so what do they do? Try to pin that on Rice as well. Again, it has been stunning to see the degree in which members of Congress are afraid to even utter David Petraeus' name, as if vigorously questioning the assessment of the Central Intelligence Agency, which he ran before a sex scandal forced him to resign, is off limits.

GOP senators troubled after meeting Rice
Ayotte would 'hold' Rice nomination

If GOP senators are demanding intelligence answers, then they should continue to haul leaders of various agencies down to Congress to testify under oath. Instead, they've made the calculation to turn Rice into their piƱata, desperate to scuttle a potential secretary of state nomination.

What finally took the cake was seeing Maine Republican Sen. Susan Collins raise questions about Rice and the handling of the 1998 embassy bombings in Africa.

Seriously? Now they are trying to pin those bombings on Rice?

This has turned into a charade that is shameless, pathetic and embarrassing.

Now it's Obama's turn to play hardball and make clear to the GOP that he won't get pushed around with his appointees in his second term.

After January 1, he should make clear to the nation that he is going to appoint the eminently qualified Rice to be his secretary of state, and dare the U.S. Senate to deny him his pick.

The president should send an unmistakable signal to the GOP that he won't be bullied by anyone. He forcefully defended Rice in a news conference a week ago and publicly thanked her at this week's Cabinet meeting, but the ultimate sign of confidence -- and strength -- would mean forgoing the easy pick of U.S. Sen. John Kerry and daring them to stop Rice.

Obama shouldn't be afraid to engage in a public battle with the GOP. To heck with the naysayers who say Rice is damaged goods. What's damaged is the logic of McCain, Graham, Ayotte and Collins, who look foolish every day with their remarks about Rice.

Obama won. Romney lost. And before him, McCain. Now it's time for the president to make clear he has no plans to be an idle bystander in another attack on a member of his Cabinet.

Mr. President, it's clear the GOP is itching for a fight going into the new year. So give it to them. And show them who is boss.

Follow @CNNOpinion on Twitter

Join us at Facebook/CNNOpinion

The opinions expressed in this commentary are solely those of Roland S. Martin.

ADVERTISEMENT
Part of complete coverage on
updated 6:10 PM EST, Mon November 24, 2014
If Obama thinks pushing out Hagel will be seen as the housecleaning many have eyed for his national security process, he'll be disappointed, says David Rothkopf.
updated 8:11 AM EST, Tue November 25, 2014
The decision by the St. Louis County prosecuting attorney to announce the Ferguson grand jury decision at night was dangerous, says Jeff Toobin.
updated 3:57 AM EST, Tue November 25, 2014
China's influence in Latin America is nothing new. Beijing has a voracious appetite for natural resources and deep pockets, says Frida Ghitis.
updated 4:51 PM EST, Mon November 24, 2014
Iranian President Hassan Rouhani speaks during a press conference in the capital Tehran on June 14, 2014.
The decision to extend the deadline for talks over Iran's nuclear program doesn't change Tehran's dubious history on the issue, writes Michael Rubin.
updated 2:25 PM EST, Fri November 21, 2014
Maria Cardona says Republicans should appreciate President Obama's executive action on immigration.
updated 7:44 AM EST, Fri November 21, 2014
Van Jones says the Hunger Games is a more sweeping critique of wealth inequality than Elizabeth Warren's speech.
updated 6:29 PM EST, Thu November 20, 2014
obama immigration
David Gergen: It's deeply troubling to grant legal safe haven to unauthorized immigrants by executive order.
updated 8:34 PM EST, Thu November 20, 2014
Charles Kaiser recalls a four-hour lunch that offered insight into the famed director's genius.
updated 3:12 PM EST, Thu November 20, 2014
The plan by President Obama to provide legal status to millions of undocumented adults living in the U.S. leaves Republicans in a political quandary.
updated 10:13 PM EST, Thu November 20, 2014
Despite criticism from those on the right, Obama's expected immigration plans won't make much difference to deportation numbers, says Ruben Navarette.
updated 8:21 PM EST, Thu November 20, 2014
As new information and accusers against Bill Cosby are brought to light, we are reminded of an unshakable feature of American life: rape culture.
updated 5:56 PM EST, Thu November 20, 2014
When black people protest against police violence in Ferguson, Missouri, they're thought of as a "mob."
updated 3:11 PM EST, Wed November 19, 2014
Lost in much of the coverage of ISIS brutality is how successful the group has been at attracting other groups, says Peter Bergen.
updated 8:45 AM EST, Wed November 19, 2014
Do recent developments mean that full legalization of pot is inevitable? Not necessarily, but one would hope so, says Jeffrey Miron.
updated 8:19 AM EST, Wed November 19, 2014
We don't know what Bill Cosby did or did not do, but these allegations should not be easily dismissed, says Leslie Morgan Steiner.
updated 10:19 AM EST, Wed November 19, 2014
Does Palestinian leader Mahmoud Abbas have the influence to bring stability to Jerusalem?
updated 12:59 PM EST, Wed November 19, 2014
Even though there are far fewer people being stopped, does continued use of "broken windows" strategy mean minorities are still the target of undue police enforcement?
updated 9:58 PM EST, Mon November 17, 2014
The truth is, we ran away from the best progressive persuasion voice in our times because the ghost of our country's original sin still haunts us, writes Cornell Belcher.
updated 4:41 PM EST, Tue November 18, 2014
Children living in the Syrian city of Aleppo watch the sky. Not for signs of winter's approach, although the cold winds are already blowing, but for barrel bombs.
updated 8:21 AM EST, Mon November 17, 2014
We're stuck in a kind of Middle East Bermuda Triangle where messy outcomes are more likely than neat solutions, says Aaron David Miller.
updated 7:16 AM EST, Mon November 17, 2014
In the midst of the fight against Islamist rebels seeking to turn the clock back, a Kurdish region in Syria has approved a law ordering equality for women. Take that, ISIS!
updated 11:07 PM EST, Sun November 16, 2014
Ruben Navarrette says President Obama would be justified in acting on his own to limit deportations
ADVERTISEMENT
ADVERTISEMENT
ADVERTISEMENT
ADVERTISEMENT