One the truly great scams: It's been amazing to see what people have said about Susan Rice this week.
Now that Rice has been cast as number-one demon again, reviews of her past conduct with respect to Benghazi have come flooding in. We were struck by what Greta Van Susteren said on Tuesday night.
On her MSNBC program, Van Susteren spoke with the Washington Post's Catherine Rampell. She offered this view of Rice:
RAMPELL (4/4/17): I mean, [Republicans] love to hate on Susan Rice, right? She has been sort of the whipping boy or whipping woman, I don't know the right version of that expression.According to Van Susteren, Rice earned her bad reputation by the "curious things she did" with respect to Benghazi.
VAN SUSTEREN: She did some curious things in Benghazi a number of years ago. She earned that confusion.
RAMPELL: She has been a favorite villain of Republicans for a long time.
VAN SUSTEREN: Look, not to relitigate Benghazi, but it was unusual, what she said that morning about the videotape. So, people have naturally—it's not unreasonable for some to be suspicious.
According to Van Susteren, "it was unusual, what [Rice] said that morning about the videotape"—the YouTube videotape which had set off violent protests all over the Muslim world. For that reason, "it's not unreasonable for some people to be suspicious" of Rice at this point.
Back in 2012, we "litigated" Rice's remarks about Benghazi at substantial length. After seeing Van Susteren (and others) offer sketchy accounts of what Rice said, we decided to go back and look at the transcripts again.
This is what we found:
On September 16, 2012, Rice appeared on all five Sunday morning programs. She was asked about Benghazi on four of the programs.
Did Rice say something unusual about the YouTube videotape—the videotape which had touched off violent demonstrations all over the Muslim world? Did she say any "curious things" on those programs that day?
Actually, no—she did not. The fact that so many people are still saying different is an indictment of the way our liberal "intellectual leaders" ran in fear as Rice was trashed in the aftermath of those programs.
Did Rice say any "curious things" on those programs that day? For perhaps the millionth time, we reread the transcripts from Face the Nation and Meet the Press.
Rice's comments were perfectly sensible. But her comments on Face the Nation were immediately misparaphrased by Bob Schieffer and John McCain, and the months-long dunking of the witch was underway.
It was on the CBS program where the bullshit met the road. On that program, Rice barely mentioned the YouTube videotape. As she did on all the shows, she stressed the fact that the intelligence community still didn't know exactly what had happened in the recent killing attack.
After voicing that disclaimer, she offered the intelligence community's "best information/assessment as of the present." At one point, Schieffer referred to an unsupported claim by Mohammed Magariaf, president of the Libyan National Congress:
RICE (9/16/12): Based on the best information we have to date, what our assessment is, as of the present, is in fact what—it began spontaneously in Benghazi as a reaction to what had transpired some hours earlier in Cairo, where, of course, as you know, there was a violent protest outside of our embassy sparked by this hateful video.According to Rice, a "spontaneous protest" had begun outside the Benghazi consulate (as had occurred in Cairo and elsewhere around the world). At some point, "extremist elements" armed with "heavy weapons" arrived on the scene and "escalated the violence."
But soon after that spontaneous protest began outside of our consulate in Benghazi, we believe that it looks like extremist elements, individuals, joined in that effort with heavy weapons of the sort that are, unfortunately, readily now available in Libya post-revolution. And that it spun from there into something much, much more violent.
SCHIEFFER: But you do not agree with [Magariaf] that this was something that had been plotted out several months ago?
RICE: We do not. We do not have information at present that leads us to conclude that this was premeditated or preplanned.
SCHIEFFER: Do you agree or disagree with him that al Qaeda had some part in this?
RICE: Well, we'll have to find out that out. I mean, I think it's clear that there were extremist elements that joined in and escalated the violence. Whether they were al Qaeda affiliates, whether they were Libyan-based extremists or al Qaeda itself I think is one of the things we'll have to determine.
She said the intelligence community didn't have evidence that the attack had been pre-planned for months. (In other words, that it had been planned to coincided with the anniversary of the original 9/11 attacks on the U.S.)
She said the "extremists elements" who staged the attack might have been Libyan-based extremists. She said they might have been al Qaeda affiliates or even "al Qaeda itself."
One part of that early "best assessment" was later rejected by the intelligence community. According to the later assessment, there had been no earlier protest underway when the heavily-armed extremist elements arrived on the scene to stage the violent attacks.
That said, Rice never claimed that a bunch of peaceful protesters suddenly went crazy and launched a set of murderous attacks. She always said that the killing attacks had been conducted by "extremist elements" who were "heavily armed"—extremist elements who might have been "al Qaeda itself."
Rice's presentation was sensible and cautious. She stressed, on several occasions, that it was a preliminary assessment—that the official investigation had barely begun.
Her presentation was sensible—but so what? As soon as his interview with Rice was done, Bob Schieffer turned to his next guest, the always truthful John McCain.
Immediately, Schieffer and McCain began to reinvent what Rice had just said. In this remarkable passage, an extremely successful propaganda campaign was born:
SCHIEFFER: Madam Ambassador, thank you for being with us.In that passage, you see the instant reinvention of what Susan Rice actually said. Let's run through the highlighted statements:
RICE: Thank you very much.
SCHIEFFER: And joining us now for his take on all this, the ranking Republican on the Senate Armed Services Committee, John McCain.
Senator, you've got to help me out here. The president of Libya says that this was something that had been in the works for two months, this attack. He blames it on al Qaeda. Susan Rice says that the State Department thinks it is some sort of a spontaneous event. What do you make of it?
MCCAIN: Most people don't bring rocket-propelled grenades and heavy weapons to a demonstration. That was an act of terror. And for anyone to disagree with that fundamental fact I think is really ignoring the facts.
Now, how long it was planned and who was involved, but there was no doubt there were extremists, and there's no doubt they were using heavy weapons and they used pretty good tactics—indirect fire, direct fire, and obviously they were successful.
SCHIEFFER: Why do you think— Is there something more going on here than a difference of opinion when the administration spokesman today says that she believes, and the administration believes, this was just a spontaneous act?
MCCAIN: How spontaneous is a demonstration when people bring rocket-propelled grenades and heavy weapons and have a very tactically successful military operation?
First, Schieffer made it sound like Rice denied that al Qaeda was involved. Plainly, that isn't what she said.
He also introduced the confusion which would endlessly surround the term "spontaneous:"
"Susan Rice says that the State Department thinks the attack was some sort of a spontaneous event," Schieffer said. What she'd actually said was substantially different. She'd actually said the State Department had no evidence supporting the claim that the attack had been preplanned for months.
For some reason which went unexplained, Schieffer seemed to think that al-Magariaf, a Libyan pol, just had to be right on that point, while Rice just had to be wrong. He conveyed this unfounded, baseless notion right from the start of his exchange with McCain.
Schieffer's performance was utterly hapless. McCain took the ball and ran. He immediately started making it sound like Rice had claimed that a bunch of spontaneous protesters had staged the killing attacks.
Plainly, that isn't what she'd said. But Scheiffer and McCain kept topping each other as they invented a silly story which Rice was said to have told.
At one point, McCain hotly insisted that extremists using heavy weapons had staged the attack. That, of course, is precisely what Rice had just said.
By the final exchange we've posted, Schieffer was plainly suggesting that Rice seemed to have been untruthful. That said, Schieffer's performance was assembled from such insinuations from its beginning to its end.
The reinvention of Rice's remarks proceeded from there with remarkable speed and power. The entire Republican world began repeating, and embellishing, this silly account of what Rice had supposedly said.
Some mainstream journalists like Schieffer joined in. And alas! As all this bullshit was being sold, our major liberal "thought leaders" ran off and hid in the woods, as is their reliable wont.
Please don't make us review again what people like Maddow did. But Rachel Maddow didn't say a word in support of Rice until after the November election.
(Four years later, she ran and hid when Comey the God launched his irregular attack on Candidate Clinton in July 2016. Rachel Maddow, a corporate clown, is a cautious, self-dealing nightmare.)
Rice made perfectly sensible statements that day. On every show, she repeatedly said that the assessments she was offering were preliminary.
Schieffer and McCain quickly reinvented what she said. Careful careerist players like Maddow refused to challenge those reinventions. Rice was thrown under a very large bus. The all-purpose Benghazi tale was born.
Schieffer and McCain got this gong-show started. Cowards like Maddow enabled it. Tuesday night, Rachel's favorite drinking buddy told the world, all over again, that Rice had brought the current obloquy on herself because of her curious statements about Benghazi, way back in 2012!
To this day, we liberals love the silly child who mugs and clowns for us every night. We love her because we're the world's dumbest tribe, except for all the other tribes, the ones which are just like us.
Al Gore didn't say he invented the Internet. He didn't say he inspired Love Story. He didn't say he discovered Love Canal.
Years later, Susan Rice didn't say that a bunch of peaceful protesters went crazy and burned Benghazi down. She actually said it might have been al Qaeda!
History changed, and people died, because of the silly, bogus statements attributed to Gore and Rice. Those bogus claims hardened, then turned to stone, because of our leadership's cowardice and ineptitude and/or its endless refusal to serve.
Our tribe is too dumb to grasp these points. Meanwhile, in our self-impressed view, the dumb ones are all Over There!