So on Wednesday, Obama drew a proverbial line on the sand and has a serious decision to make: Avoid a showdown and back down from McCain and Graham by not nominating Rice, or nominate her and prepare for a prolonged fight with angry congressional Republicans.
Whatever Obama decides, he made it clear to the world that he supports Rice and he won’t let Republicans tarnish her reputation and disrespect the office of the President.
But Graham isn’t backing down.
“Mr. President, don’t think for one minute I don’t hold you ultimately responsible for Benghazi,” Graham said in a statement. “I think you failed as Commander in Chief before, during, and after the attack.”
“I am dead-set on making sure that we don’t promote anybody who was an essential player in the Benghazi debacle,” Graham told reporters, referring to Rice.
Rice, 47, served as an adviser to Obama’s 2008 presidential campaign and was later appointed to represent the United States at U.N. headquarters in New York. Rice said that her parents taught her to “never use race as an excuse or advantage”, and as a young girl she “dreamed of becoming the first U.S. Senator from the District of Columbia”
On Wednesday, Obama protected Rice who has become a flashpoint issue for Republicans who are still stinging from Obama’s decisive victory over Mitt Romney.
Republicans couldn’t oust Obama from the White House during the election, so now they’ll try to derail his high-level appointments and Rice is clearly in the GOP crosshairs.
And since Obama has signaled that he’s not going to let Republicans steamroll a black woman who he considers a friend, the president has set a no-nonsense tone for his next four years in the White House.
In plain talk: Bring it on.