When even Chris Matthews can see the dangers in pushing Susan Rice as Hillary Clinton’s replacement, maybe the White House should pay attention. Via Eliana Johnson at NRO, the second term hasn’t yet begun and Barack Obama needs as much political capital as possible to win on the “fiscal cliff.” Why take on this fight, especially when an easy option — and a better one — in John Kerry is at hand? Matthews predicts a “very messy and hot” fight over the nomination if it indeed comes, which will be “not helpful,” and Matthews hears it may not come at all:
Matthews then goes on to blame the CIA for giving Rice bad intelligence, but Rice told three Republican Senators yesterday that she had access to other intel, and simply ignored it. The blame-the-CIA argument that the White House has used since it became clear that Rice spoke nonsense on September 16th, notes Andrew Kaczynski of BuzzFeed. The blame has been shifted to David Petraeus, James Clapper, the intelligence community as a whole, and then the CIA blamed the FBI before taking it back.
Does Obama want a Senate confirmation hearing to explore all of those story shifts, too — or just a quiet confirmation of a new top diplomat in order to focus on the business he wants to accomplish? In Matthews’ mind, that’s a no-brainer, and it should be in the West Wing, too.