GOP Susan Rice letter was wrong, not racist

I think the world of Rep. James Clyburn (D-S.C.), whom I consider one of the finest leaders in American public life. I agree with him that some comments against President Obama, including those by John Sununu, did include dog-whistle race politics. But having recently written a call on Matt Drudge to stop the race stories, I feel compelled to state that regarding the Republican letter against Susan Rice, the letter was wrong but not about race at all.

It is untrue to suggest that Susan Rice "incompetently" or "willfully" misled the American public, but these are not dog-whistle words the way Sununu slandering the president by calling him "lazy" were dog-whistle words.

Susan Rice did what anyone in her position would have done, and should have done, which is to repeat the non-classified talking points she was not only shown but instructed to repeat. All of us who have been in public life should fairly understand her position. If there was wrong committed, it was done by the person(s) who wrote and instructed her to read the talking points she quoted. This should be investigated. The results should be made public.

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I believe Susan Rice is manifestly qualified to be secretary of State and should be confirmed if nominated, and that there are others who are even more manifestly qualified who should be confirmed if they are nominated.

The GOP letter is wrong. It is partisan. It is angry. It is sour grapes. It is inaccurate. It is unfair. It is grossly misdirected against Susan Rice, who did absolutely nothing wrong. But in my humble opinion the letter has nothing to do with race. It is a slippery slope we should avoid to infer that every criticism, fair or unfair, must have an ulterior motive of race, gender or any other external factor.

I was grateful that Matt Drudge posted my open letter to him. It is a debate worth having. Anyone who reads the 8,600 comments will see that I was called certain names that were far more unflattering than "incompetent" or "willful.” But this comes with the territory. I did not question the motives of those who wrote those comments; in fact, I tried to understand them (well, many of them).

So while I greatly admire Congressman Clyburn I must very respectfully disagree with him about this:

The Rice letter was wrong, but what was wrong about it had everything to do with politics, and nothing to do with race.