Martin Bashir | December 13, 2012
>>> there are major developments this hour in washington. u.n. ambassador susan rice has withdrawn her name for consideration for the secretary of state position convinced that the political handling in a political confirmation would only get in the way. reaction is pouring in. let's welcome in joy reid of the grio and also here with me in new york and dana milbank of "the washington post ." if i can begin with you, joy, i want to read what the president has said in reaction. while i deeply regret the unfair and misleading attacks on susan rice in recent weeks, her decision demonstrates the strength of her character and an admirable commitment to rise move the politics of the moment to put our national interests first. what's your reaction to this decision?
>> well, i think the reaction to the fact that she had to make it is disgraceful, quite frankly , distasteful in the extreme. i think john mccain and a small cad ri of his hangers on in the senate decided to make war on the president's nominee. make war on the principle that the president of the united states duly elected has the right to choose his own cabinet.
>> the president had not even mentioned that she was --
>> but knowing he wanted her was enough for john mccain who i believe a lot of this is all personal pique. he has wanted to defeat barack obama at something, anything. hasn't been able to do it. couldn't beat him for the presidency, and he just set about bullying this woman, and i think she, and i think the president's statement is dead on, she's a good enough soldier, if we can put it that way, to say, you know what? rather than put the president and put the country through the ridiculous drama of arguing over what she said on "meet the press" about an event to which she had no supervisory authority, rather than put the country through that and rather than subject the president to that, she decided to step away and walk away from it, so i think it's admirable the way that she has handled it. but i think the fact she had to deal with it is disgusting to add another "d" word to my list.
>> are you not persuaded though that things began to rock after david petraeus appeared before that committee privately and suggested that, yes, terrorism was at work, this wasn't a spontaneous reaction to a video. at that point did her position not become more and more difficult because what she said on "meet the press" was now buted again what general petraeus was saying.
>> i don't know what he said markedly changed what we knew. we knew in the initial hours after the event, there was knowledge within the administration at some level, particularly at the cia level, there was terrorism related to the attack, but the declassified talking points she was given to go on "meet the press" were softer and really focused on the video. so like any public official, including john mccain by the way, when they go on "meet the press" or the sunday talk shows , they work from a set of talking points . are they saying she should have given the classified version? i would think not. i think john mccain would have attacked her regardless. but i think her position has become more and more untenable as time has dragged on.
>> dana , you said professor rice has amassed a fairly long enemies list . northwestern senator who is on that list and how did she make so many enemies?
>> i think that's what's at play here. if this president wanted to nominate her, he could have gotten her confirmed. it was always a question of how much political capital did he want to spend on this. did he want to have this protracted battle that would take attention away from the fiscal cliff debate, the economic debate where he's clobbering the republicans and put it in some other area where he's not necessarily as strong? now, in terms of the enemies, i think what it was is certainly you have people with the knifes out like john mccain and lindsey graham but just as tellingly, you didn't have a lot of democrats ready to go to the mattresses for her. so, yes, they could have gotten her through, but it's not a fight a lot of the democrats were relishing having. i think it had very little to do with benghazi and i think as joy pointed out, it had a lot to do with pique, and john mccain 's pique at the way susan rice treated him during the 2008 campaign.
>> dana , this critique of ambassador rice having sharp elbows, i have heard that, frankly, as a sexist slur by men very often who make that kind of critique because they don't like the fact that a woman has to work ten times as hard to get into a position of seniority. you know, so all this talk of her having sharp elbows, did she really? are we able to produce evidence of people who come forward and say they were the victims of being smacked in the ribs by susan rice ?
>> this large volume of complaints and is it because she's a woman? is it because she's african-american?
>> i'm afraid -- you're back with us, dana . we lost your signal just then. so would you please begin again with what you were saying so i can follow you at least.
>> it was all convincing. i don't know that i need to repeat it.
>> but i would like you to for the benefit of our audience. we've lost you again. okay. that was great. what's your reaction to what i was just putting to dana ? there has been this critique of susan rice as having been overly aggressive in some way, but that often strikes me as a typically sexist reaction by men who don't like women who are successful, frankly.
>> remember before hillary clinton was the most beloved woman on the planet, she was an ogre for saying things that didn't sound lady like to people about cookies and such. there is a different standard for women and how they are to behave. i think for her there is that but there is a list of people she's given sharp elbows to. it's a list of one. it's john mccain . during the campaign she criticized his irresponsible statements about iran, the singing about bomb bomb iran. she characterized him a reckless individual who shouldn't be president. that was during the campaign. and a lot of the anger i would guess of john mccain towards susan rice has to do not so much with her being a woman, but with her being not deferential to john mccain .
>> now, we've had a statement from senator lindsey graham . i'll read you it. i respect ambassador rice's decision. president obama has many talented people to choose from to serve as our next secretary of state. when it comes to benghazi , i'm determined to find out what happened before , during, and after the attack. unfortunately the white house and other agencies are stonewalling when it comes to providing the relevant information. i find this unacceptable. so originally the complaint was against her, now it's the white house .
>> and they have been trying to turn benghazi in a scandal from the beginning. they're still hanging onto it as a sort of scandal. they refuse to go where the scandal would naturally lead. that would be called the central intelligence agency where their favorite person on earth before he had a scandal david petraeus was running things. the congress also doesn't like to go to their own actions in terms of not funding extra security for our bases around the world, i mean for our diplomatic --
>> because the republicans refuse to grant the amount in the budget that was require and that meant a reduction of 300 in protective personnel.
>> there are things they could look into and they don't want to.
>> why not?
>> it's not as juzy a scandal -- lindsey graham has his own political problems. he is always vulnerable from the right. he's going to follow john mccain to the right and try to turn it into a faux scandal.
>> dana , i believe we have you back electronically and digital digitally. we never saw hillary clinton put her full support behind ambassador rice. does this suggest that there might be something of an issue between those two individuals?
>> well, there certainly was back in the 2008 campaign where susan rice was really mocking hillary clinton as a candidate suggesting that, you know, she's not qualified being the wife of a president doesn't qualify you to have a foreign policy and become the president on that basis. you know, her people will certainly say for the record that they have no animus now and they're all for it, and you asked earlier about sort of this list of enemies. it's not the sort of situation where you have people coming out before the cameras saying, this woman is intolerable. the amount of chatter, however, that i have heard, i don't know her. this isn't -- this is not a personal thing, but it is extraordinary the amount of people who have complaints about her in this town. that's why it led me to believe that it was a story to write. it wasn't -- i don't think it was just because she's a woman, because she's african-american. there was just an extraordinary amount of antagonism that has been built up. i think that's what's behind this. the mccain thing, lindsey graham , that is an unreasonable attack on the benghazi thing but i think what the real cause of this was not that, but the unwillingness by some democrats to really go to the mat interest he is -- mattresses for her.
>> even if the cause of the attack is not her race or gender, the optics could not be worse for the republican party . here you have john mccain and lindsey graham and their little crew constantly beating up on this african- american woman who can hold her own and doesn't need those things to give her cover, but they are going after her when she was not the principal entity that was in charge of what happened or that was responsible for what happened in that tragic occurrence in benghazi . so they're going after just her, not the cia director , david petraeus . her. and i think that that's says a lot.