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 6:03 PM EDT, Tue August 19, 2014
It used to be billy clubs, fire hoses and snarling German shepherds. Now it's armored personnel carriers and flash-bang grenades, writes Kara Dansky.
updated 1:27 PM EDT, Wed August 20, 2014
Maria Haberfeld: People who are unfamiliar with police work can reasonably ask, why was an unarmed man shot so many times, and why was deadly force used at all?
updated 5:52 PM EDT, Mon August 18, 2014
Ruben Navarrette notes that this fall, minority students will outnumber white students at America's public schools.
updated 5:21 PM EDT, Tue August 19, 2014
Humans have driven to extinction four marine mammal species in modern times. As you read this, we are on the brink of losing the fifth, write three experts.
updated 7:58 AM EDT, Tue August 19, 2014
It's been ten days since Michael Brown was killed, and his family is still waiting for information from investigators about what happened to their young man, writes Mel Robbins
updated 10:11 AM EDT, Thu August 21, 2014
Sally Kohn says the Ferguson protests reflect broader patterns of racial injustice across the country, from chronic police violence and abuse against black men to the persistent economic and social exclusion of communities of color.
updated 8:42 AM EDT, Mon August 18, 2014
The former U.K. prime minister and current U.N. envoy says there are 500 days left to fulfill the Millennium Goals' promise to children.
updated 9:10 AM EDT, Mon August 18, 2014
Julian Zelizer says the left mistrusts Clinton but there are ways she can win support from liberals in 2016
updated 1:38 PM EDT, Wed August 20, 2014
Peter Bergen says the terror group is a huge threat in Iraq but only a potential one in the U.S.
updated 1:34 PM EDT, Sat August 16, 2014
Mark O'Mara says the way cops, media, politicians and protesters have behaved since Michael Brown's shooting shows not all the right people have learned the right lessons
updated 11:23 AM EDT, Sun August 17, 2014
Retired Lt. Gen. Mark Hertling says the American military advisers in Iraq are sizing up what needs to be done and recommending accordingly
updated 3:41 PM EDT, Fri August 15, 2014
Marc Lamont Hill says the President's comments on the Michael Brown shooting ignored its racial implications
updated 5:46 PM EDT, Fri August 15, 2014
Joe Stork says the catastrophe in northern Iraq continues, even though many religious minorities have fled to safety: ISIS forces -- intent on purging them -- still control the area where they lived
updated 6:26 PM EDT, Thu August 14, 2014
Tim Lynch says Pentagon's policy of doling out military weapons to police forces is misguided and dangerous.
updated 9:15 AM EDT, Fri August 15, 2014
S.E. Cupp says millennials want big ideas and rapid change; she talks to one of their number who serves in Congress
updated 7:57 PM EDT, Thu August 14, 2014
Dorothy Brown says the power structure is dominated by whites in a town that is 68% black. Elected officials who sat by silently as chaos erupted after Michael Brown shooting should be voted out of office
updated 7:49 AM EDT, Thu August 14, 2014
Bill Schmitz says the media and other adults should never explain suicide as a means of escaping pain. Robin Williams' tragic death offers a chance to educate about prevention
updated 11:05 AM EDT, Fri August 15, 2014
Nafees Syed says President Obama should renew the quest to eliminate bias in the criminal justice system
updated 4:24 PM EDT, Thu August 14, 2014
Eric Liu says what's unfolded in the Missouri town is a shocking violation of American constitutional rights and should be a wake-up call to all
updated 3:22 PM EDT, Wed August 13, 2014
Neal Gabler says Lauren Bacall, a talent in her own right, will be defined by her marriage with the great actor Humphrey Bogart
updated 6:56 AM EDT, Fri August 15, 2014
Bob Butler says the arrest of two journalists covering the Ferguson story is alarming
updated 4:35 PM EDT, Wed August 13, 2014
Mark O'Mara says we all need to work together to make sure the tension between police and African-Americans doesn't result in more tragedies
updated 4:06 PM EDT, Mon August 18, 2014
Pepper Schwartz asks why young women are so entranced with Kardashian, who's putting together a 352-page book of selfies
updated 7:08 PM EDT, Wed August 13, 2014
Michael Friedman says depression does not discriminate, cannot be bargained with and shows no mercy.
updated 11:25 AM EDT, Tue August 12, 2014
LZ Granderson says we must not surrender to apathy about the injustice faced by African Americans
ADVERTISEMENT
ADVERTISEMENT
ADVERTISEMENT
ADVERTISEMENT