November 25, 2012

Michael Cuzzi: GOP still operating on outdated notions

Republicans like Webster, McCain and Graham didn't get the memo: Women and minorities have clout.

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Second, the senators' target is misplaced.

Rather than besmirch Rice for delivering the best publicly disclosable post-attack intelligence, McCain and Graham would better serve themselves, their party and their country by investigating why America wasn't prepared to defend its diplomats in a fluid and devolving security environment.

Third, the senators are on shaky precedential ground.

They launched no such criticisms or character assassinations after then-Secretary of State Colin Powell delivered his infamous and demonstrably wrong weapons of mass destruction presentation to the U.N. in 2003 (a moment Powell later recalled as "the lowest point in my life.")

Nor did they threaten to filibuster or publicly oppose Condoleezza Rice's appointment to secretary of state under George W. Bush in 2005, even though she was a chief architect in both developing and publicly delivering the administration's erroneous rationale for war in Iraq.

Finally, the political optics are wrong for Republicans.

McCain and Graham, two powerful, older white male senators, are misguidedly attacking and scapegoating a respected African American woman with a distinguished public service career.

It's precisely the sort of self-reinforcing post-election storyline Republicans need least as they attempt to rebuild their parochial political brand.

Perhaps there are forward-thinking Republican leaders in Washington whispering quietly in the ears of McCain and Graham, urging them to step back.

But, just as in Maine, the absence of public disapproval is most readily understood as private concurrence.

Michael Cuzzi is a former campaign aide to President Obama, Sen. John Kerry and former U.S. Rep. Tom Allen. He manages the Portland office of VOX Global, a strategic communications and public affairs firm headquartered in Washington, D.C. He can be reached at:

or @CuzzMJ on Twitter


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