President Obama has accepted Susan Rice's withdrawal from the running for Secretary of State. That should make Republicans have a Happy Holiday, but can Obama use it as a bargaining tool on the fiscal cliff negotiations?
In Rice's withdrawal letter she says that if nominated, she feels her confirmation process "would be lengthy, disruptive and costly." She also states that she is "saddened" that the Secretary of State nominating process is being "politicized" before a nominee is even selected. Nothing in Washington happens in a vacuum. Al Jazeera correspondent Alan Fisher says, "Obama, by accepting the withdrawal of Rice, shows the President is choosing his battles carefully with the Republicans." Could it be that Rice was given to Republicans as a bargaining chip on the fiscal cliff negotiations? There's no documented evidence to support this claim, simply a question posed by this author. Nobody in Washington will say it out loud, that's for sure.
Boehner and President Obama met privately on Sunday evening. The President made an offer Monday. Boehner counter-offered on Tuesday. Then on Thursday evening, following the news of Rice's withdrawal, Boehner headed back to the White House for more talks with President Obama. Following Thursday evening's meeting Boehner said, "We're doing great." Negotiations seemed to stall but have been reignited.
Of course if the President did trade Rice to force Republicans to raise taxes on the top 1 percent, he gave up a bit more than Republicans in that negotiation. Senator John Kerry is almost guaranteed to become Secretary of State. He has the experience, he's familiar with many heads of state, but he will leave an empty U.S. Senate seat that could be taken by a Republican. That means another expensive special election in Massachusetts that might give the Democratic state a Republican voice again. While Massachusetts losing a Democrat would be bad, the Democrats would still be in control of the Senate, and that's good.
If Susan Rice was part of the deal to avoid falling off the fiscal cliff, consider it a victory for America. She was a bit too "rough around the edges" to be representing American interests at that level. Kerry is the better choice and even if the Senate gains a Republican, if working class Americans can avoid a tax increase, that's what you call a "win-win."
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