When I first saw the headline, "The GOP’s bizarre attack on Susan Rice," I assumed the link would take me to one of the many left-wing columnists employed by the Post. Nope. This is a full-blown Washington Post editorial (and a despicable piece of McCarthyist race-baiting) -- the kind you would never expect from the same outlet that so doggedly pursued the Nixon administration's Watergate cover up:
Drawn up by Rep. Jeff Duncan (R-S.C.), the letter [from 97 House Republicans challenging any potential nomination of Susan Rice to Secretary of State] alleges that “Ambassador Rice is widely viewed as having either willfully or incompetently misled the American public” about the Sept. 11 attack on the U.S. Consulate in Benghazi, Libya. But as congressional testimony has established, Ms. Rice’s comments on several Sunday television talk shows on Sept. 16 were based on talking points drawn up by the intelligence community. She was acting as an administration spokeswoman; there was nothing either incompetent or deliberately misleading about the way she presented the information she was given.
If the Post wants to argue with the wording of the letter from House Republicans, fine. But from what we now know, that letter is likely far more accurate than the Post's assertion that Rice was not attempting to "deliberately mislead." Furthermore, we also know there's been some recent pushback from the intelligence community over whether or not Rice simply "presented the information she was given."
Just for starters, as a Cabinet-level official given regular classified briefings, there's a very good chance Rice knew the truth about Libya being a pre-mediated terror attack before she insisted the complete opposite was true during her Sunday talk show round robin. Therefore, the Post is wrong; Rice did know the information she was giving was false.
If the Post wants to defend that as just doing her job as an "administrative spokeswoman," that's their opinion. But there's plenty of evidence House Republicans are correct and that Rice was in fact "deliberately misleading" the public.
Secondly, as far as the Post's point that Rice simply "presented the information she was given," a CBS News source says that was not the case:
"The [talking] points were not, as has been insinuated by some, edited to minimize the role of extremists, diminish terrorist affiliations, or play down that this was an attack," the official tells CBS News, adding that there were "legitimate intelligence and legal issues to consider, as is almost always the case when explaining classified assessments publicly."
"Most people understand that saying 'extremists' were involved in a direct assault on the mission isn't shying away from the idea of terrorist involvement," added the official. "Because of the various elements involved in the attack, the term extremist was meant to capture the range of participants."
In other words, the edited talking points did not shy away from the fact that the assault on our Libyan consulate was a terror attack. If that's the case, it was the Administration and Rice that made the choice to shy away from that truth. Therefore Rice did not "present the information she was given."
As if that wasn't bad enough, the Post's editorial board closes this nonsense by engaging in a full-blown case of McCarthyism with the floating of the completely unfounded charge that House Republicans are motivated by race:
Could it be, as members of the Congressional Black Caucus are charging, that the signatories of the letter are targeting Ms. Rice because she is an African American woman? The signatories deny that, and we can’t know their hearts. What we do know is that more than 80 of the signatories are white males, and nearly half are from states of the former Confederacy. You’d think that before launching their broadside, members of Congress would have taken care not to propagate any falsehoods of their own.
That is a libel of the highest order, and the kind of racially-charged defamation you expect to hear in left-wing fever swamps of NBC News, not read on the editorial pages of the Washington Post.
If race and gender had anything to do with this, where then were Republican protests when a black woman named Condi Rice was nominated as Secretary of State? Where were the protests when a black man named Colin Powell became Secretary of State?
Furthermore, the Post's assertion that race might be a factor due to the fact that half the House signatories hail from "states of the former Confederacy" is its own form of prejudice -- the bigoted assumption that 150 years after the end of the Confederacy, residents of those states remain suspect.
Again this is nothing more than the Post engaging in McCarthyism. With absolutely no evidence, what we have here is the deliberate and un-American political tactic of intentionally twisting and distorting the motives of political opponents into something heinous. This tactic is supposed to be beyond the pale in our society. But there is no daylight between attempting to marginalize and silence liberals with the accusation of "communism" and what the Post did today with the cry of racism.
Because the Post obviously can't make an honest or convincing case in defense of Ms. Rice, they've whipped out the McCarthyist Handbook to smear into silence those on the Right with whom they disagree.
It's going to be a long four years.
Follow John Nolte on Twitter @NolteNC