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 9:57 PM EDT, Thu September 18, 2014
Ruben Navarrette says spanking is an acceptable form of disciplining a child, as long as you follow the rules.
updated 9:58 PM EDT, Thu September 18, 2014
Steven Holmes says spanking, a practice that is ingrained in our culture, accomplishes nothing positive and causes harm.
updated 2:31 PM EDT, Thu September 18, 2014
Sally Kohn says America tried "Cowboy Adventurism" as a foreign policy strategy; it failed. So why try it again?
updated 10:27 AM EDT, Thu September 18, 2014
Van Jones says the video of John Crawford III, who was shot by a police officer in Walmart, should be released.
updated 10:48 AM EDT, Thu September 18, 2014
NASA will need to embrace new entrants and promote a lot more competition in future, argues Newt Gingrich.
updated 7:15 PM EDT, Tue September 16, 2014
If U.S. wants to see real change in Iraq and Syria, it will have to empower moderate forces, says Fouad Siniora.
updated 8:34 PM EDT, Wed September 17, 2014
Mark O'Mara says there are basic rules to follow when interacting with law enforcement: respect their authority.
updated 9:05 AM EDT, Tue September 16, 2014
LZ Granderson says Congress has rebuked the NFL on domestic violence issue, but why not a federal judge?
updated 7:49 AM EDT, Tue September 16, 2014
Mel Robbins says the only person you can legally hit in the United States is a child. That's wrong.
updated 1:23 PM EDT, Mon September 15, 2014
Eric Liu says seeing many friends fight so hard for same-sex marriage rights made him appreciate marriage.
updated 4:55 PM EDT, Fri September 12, 2014
David Wheeler wonders: If Scotland votes to secede, can America take its place and rejoin England?
updated 4:36 PM EDT, Fri September 12, 2014
World-famous physicist Stephen Hawking recently said the world as we know it could be obliterated instantaneously. Meg Urry says fear not.
updated 1:21 PM EDT, Thu September 11, 2014
Sally Kohn says bombing ISIS will worsen instability in Iraq and strengthen radical ideology in terrorist groups.
updated 9:27 AM EDT, Thu September 11, 2014
Artist Prune Nourry's project reinterprets the terracotta warriors in an exhibition about gender preference in China.
updated 9:36 AM EDT, Wed September 10, 2014
The Apple Watch is on its way. Jeff Yang asks: Are we ready to embrace wearables technology at last?
ADVERTISEMENT
ADVERTISEMENT
ADVERTISEMENT
ADVERTISEMENT