Tuesday, November 20, 2012

Top African American Lawmaker Says GOP Attacks On Susan Rice Use Racial ‘Code Words’

Rep. James Clyburn (D-SC) this morning defended U.S. Ambassador to the U.N. Susan Rice, calling out Republican use of “code words” in attacking Rice’s professional capabilities.

Appearing on CNN, Clyburn, the number three Democrat in the House of Representatives and the highest-ranking African-American in Congress, added his voice to a growing number of lawmakers concerned with the appearance of the Republican Party potentially blocking a minority nominee to the President’s cabinet so soon after a bruising electoral loss among minorities.

In particular, Clyburn focused on a letter circulated by more than 90 House Republicans that uses terms like “incompetent” to describe Rice’s performance at the U.N. in discouraging Obama from nominating Rice to take over as Secretary of State:

CLYBURN: You know, these are code words. We heard them during the campaign. During this recent campaign, we heard [Romney surrogate John] Sununu calling our President ‘lazy’, ‘incompetent.’ These kinds of terms that those of us, especially those of us that who were born and raised in the South, we’ve been hearing these little words and phrases all of our lives. And we get insulted by them. Susan Rice is as competent as anyone you will find. And to place that word on her causes problems with people like Marcia Fudge and it certainly causes a problem with me. I don’t like those words. Say that she was wrong for doing it, but don’t call her incompetent.

Clyburn isn’t alone in his assessment of the issues the Republican Party is running up again in their pursuit of Rice. The hosts of MSNBC’s Morning Joe also were incredulous that the GOP would be looking for this fight, against a highly regarded woman of color, so quickly. Host Joe Scarborough, a Republican himself, was struck by how his party seemed unwilling to moderate its tone, with his co-host Mika Brzezinski saying, “It looks like a bunch of old white men running women out of Washington.”

Watch all three statements here:


Rice is currently being targeted by House and Senate Republicans for her role in the Obama administration’s response to the Sept. 11 attack against a U.S. diplomatic mission in Libya. While the intelligence community has provided ample evidence that the talking points that Rice delivered on Sept. 16 were accurate at the time, this has not stopped Republicans from preemptively seeking to block a Rice appointment to take over for out-going Secretary Hillary Clinton.

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