Editorial: Too much politics in nomination

Published 10:08 am Monday, December 17, 2012

When President Obama’s nominee to be secretary of state, Susan Rice, withdrew from consideration last week, it was yet one more sign that some in Congress are more interested in scoring political points than in leading the nation. The senators who derailed Rice’s nomination should, but probably don’t, feel ashamed that they again put politics before country.

The United States Senate has the privilege — and duty — of confirming various presidential appointments, including Supreme Court justices and cabinet officials. When the president nominated Rice, she was immediately assailed by some Republican senators for her earlier statements on the attack on the American facility in Benghazi, Libya. These senators, it seems, believe Rice should have revealed classified secrets on national television rather than, as was completely proper, provide minimal information based on what were then believed to be the facts.

But the details are immaterial. What is important is that some senators felt it more important to gin up a political controversy than to simply let the president choose the people he needs to implement his policies. If the president wanted Rice as his secretary of state, the Senate has no valid reason to object. The same will be true of the next nominee.

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The president will soon attempt to get Senate confirmation of another secretary of state nominee. That person will probably also be subjected to ridiculously intense scrutiny. Americans can hope, however, that the task of approving the president’s team will not again be made into a political football. What we need from the Senate is leadership, not divisiveness.