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WASHINGTON WATCH ROUNDTABLE: Why Hasn’t The GOP Mentioned Sec. Clinton, Gen. Petraeus As It Relates To The Benghazi Attack? (VIDEO)

Roland Martin and the Washington Watch roundtable discuss what Republicans are doing with their attacks against Ambassador Susan Rice and are they so afraid to talk about Sec. Clinton and Gen. Petraeus.

This week’s Washington Watch roundtable features aren Finney, MSNBC political analyst. Dr. Chris Metzler, political scientist from Georgetown University, Michelle Bernard, president and CEO of The Bernard Center for Women; and Rashad Robinson, executive director of Color of Change.

MR. MARTIN: All right, folks. Welcome back to our roundtable.

Let’s right back into it.

I’m trying to figure out for the life of me what in the world Republicans are doing in this Susan Rice thing, but what’s interesting to me – and – and I dealt with this in the – with the previous panel: why are they so afraid to talk about Secretary of State Hillary Clinton? To talk about Petraeus? I mean how can you somehow say that the person who went on television is the one who was responsible for making security decisions as related to the ambassador?

MS. FINNEY: Well – but also, I mean where they’ve gone is they’re trying to make the argument that Susan willfully tried to mislead the American people with the talking points. And then you had some of the senators come out and say, “Well,” you know, “she has access to the unclassified information. She should have known better.”

But here’s the point. Susan Rice did what any person on that day from the Administration would’ve had to do, and that is there was information that was classified, and there was information that was unclassified.

MR. MARTIN: But here’s the deal, though, Karen.

MS. FINNEY: Hold on! She represented –

MR. MARTIN: If the CIA guy’s sitting, saying, “Say this” –

OFF CAMERA: Yeah.

MS. FINNEY: — but here –

MR. MARTIN: “All right. I” –

MS. FINNEY: — but hold –

MR. MARTIN: — “got you.”

MS. FINNEY: — on. But here’s why this is important, though. We keep saying this, but this is why this is so vitally important – and we don’t say it enough. The reason that they made that decision was so that the enemy didn’t know that we knew that they were involved. That’s why they made the decision to talk about “extremists” rather than naming the group specifically. That’s part of what Petraeus actually told the members of Congress in those sessions.

So, essentially, Susan was doing what she should have been doing, which is not telling the enemy – she wasn’t trying to mislead the American people. She was trying to not tell the enemy that we knew that they were involved, because –

MS. BERNARD: And –

MS. FINNEY: — we needed that time for some of our – our own national security interests.

MS. BERNARD: — yes, she – she is protecting the country. And, you know, you – if you – [crosstalk] –

MS. FINNEY:Which is her job, by the way!

MS. BERNARD: — whi- — which is – exactly. It’s her job, and would be her job if she were Secretary of the Sta- — of – State.

And one of the things you have to look at is, in 2008 – and we see it again at this point in time – the President comes in, and some Republican says, “You know what? I’ve decided I don’t like who he” – “he” – “who he’s going to select.” So, four years ago, it was Eric Holder. This – you know, this time around it’s Susan Rice. They’re both African-American. They’re both people who could really, really be incredibly historical figures and have a – a deep impact on domestic and foreign policy. And it – there’s absolutely no reason for it. Substantively, the only difference between Susan Rice and Hillary Clinton is that Hillary Clinton was a member of the Senate.

MS. FINNEY: [Crosstalk]- –

MS. BERNARD: That’s it!

MS. FINNEY: — to her credit, though, I mean Secretary Clinton has come out a – a number of times and said, “I’m responsible for security.”

MR. MARTIN: Bu- — but – bu- –

MS. FINNEY: “This is my” –

MR. MARTIN: — but – but my point, though, is you would think that the questions being raised –

MS. FINNEY: — sure.

MR. MARTIN: — would be raised to the person who is over the department.

MS. FINNEY: But they’ve decided to make it not about the security –

MR. MARTIN: Right.

MS. FINNEY: — question. They’re trying to make it about the President was trying to mislead the American people to downplay the role of al Qaeda because that didn’t fit with the narrative he wanted to be telling during the –

[CROSSTALK.]

MR. ROBINSON: Well, this is –

MS. FINNEY: — campaign.

MR. ROBINSON: — well, this is about politics – right? This is –

MS. FINNEY: Of course!

MR. ROBINSON: — about – this is about a president who’s come in with a much bigger victory than anyone thought he was going to come in with, and “we can’t let him get wins.”

MR. MARTIN: But, Rashad –

MR. ROBINSON: “We ca-” –

MR. MARTIN: — are –

MR. ROBINSON: — yeah?

MR. MARTIN: — you seeing, though, Obama supporters, people who went to the polls – are they actively engaged online and [in] social media, saying, “Hey, we” – “we voted. We put you back in. We’re going to have her back to ensure that she gets appointed Secretary of State”? Are you –

[CROSSTALK.]

MR. MARTIN: — seeing that actually take place?

MR. ROBINSON: I think that we’re starting to see movement in that direction. We’re starting to see movement not only around – around Ambassador Rice, but around economic issues. We’re starting to see a movement that we really didn’t see back in ’08, where a lot of folks who did a – who did efforts to get –

MR. MARTIN: Right.

MR. ROBINSON: — the President elected went home and – and thought the work was done.

We need – we need to flex our muscles as – as an organized community this time around, because this is not just about what could happen with Ambassador Rice and – and the Secretary of State position, but about all of the other positions coming down the line. When the Supreme Court positions open up, when judgeships open up, we need to be organized as a community and not give the right the ability to dictate sort of what happens after an election where the American people went to the polls and really made a statement about where they wanted to see the direction –

MR. MARTIN: Right.

MR. ROBINSON: — of this country.

MS. FINNEY: And particularly –

MS. BERNARD: W- –

MS. FINNEY: — someone of – of Dr. Rice’s, you know, accomplishments.

MS. BERNARD: — yes.

MS. FINNEY: This is a Rhodes scholar.

MR. MARTIN: I mean –

MS. FINNEY: This is a R- — [chuckles] –

MR. MARTIN:hell, McCain called her “incompetent” –

[CROSSTALK.]

OFF CAMERA: Exactly!

MR. MARTIN: It’s crazy!

[CROSSTALK.]

MS. FINNEY: And – and then to try to invoke – sorry – 1998 which, by the way –

MR. MARTIN: Oh, my God!

MS. FINNEY: — [chuckles] – with[?] –

MR. MARTIN: “Oh! What does she know about that bombing?”

Seriously?

MS. FINNEY: — well, but here’s the thing. If we’re going to open that door, then let’s talk about how the Bush Administration didn’t pay attention to what happened in 1998, which was basically when we really got a picture of –

MR. MARTIN: Right.

MS. FINNEY: — Osama bin Laden. Three thousand people dead. If we want to talk about “failure,” I think we should go there.

DR. METZLER: So, now, a couple of things. One, it goes back to what I said earlier about this – messages. Look, you do not label someone who is a Rhodes scholar with a doctoral –

MR. MARTIN: Who served –

DR. METZLER: — degree –

MR. MARTIN: — in the Clinton Administration in –

DR. METZLER: — right.

MR. MARTIN: — Secre- — in – in the Department of State –

DR. METZLER: Yeah.

MS. FINNEY: And done everything at the –

DR. METZLER: — she has –

MS. FINNEY: — UN we needed to –

DR. METZLER: — so –

MS. FINNEY: — get done.

DR. METZLER: — so, the – the issue is not her competence. That’s not the issue. If what you want to say is, “If you nominate her, you bring her forward, we will vote her done,” then say that!

MS. FINNEY: Right.

DR. METZLER: But – and – and that’s the process. So – if you want to be able to do that.

The second part of this is Republicans have essentially coalesced around John Kerry to be Secretary of State. That’s what the Republicans have done. There’s, you know, a number of votes for him versus her, but it is the opening salvo in the confirmation debate.

My concern with it is this language of “incompetence,” this language –

MR. MARTIN: Right.

DR. METZLER: — of – yeah, that’s my concern with it.

MR. MARTIN: I think –

DR. METZLER: Vote her up or down. That’s fine.

MS. FINNEY: But she –

MR. MARTIN: Now, I’m –

MS. FINNEY: — hasn’t even been –

MR. MARTIN: — I’m –

MS. FINNEY: — nominated.

DR. METZLER: But she hasn’t been –

MR. MARTIN: I –

DR. METZLER: Yeah.

MR. MARTIN: — [crosstalk]. She hasn’t been nominated. First of all, I’m out of time. She hasn’t been nom- –

DR. METZLER: [Chuckles.]

MR. MARTIN: — she hasn’t been nominated. We see what’s going on here.

I still believe, though, the President should say, “You wana fight? I’mma give you a fight.”

OFF CAMERA: I think – [crosstalk] –

[CROSSTALK.]

MR. MARTIN: “I’m nominating her as my Secretary of State,” and – and no Secretary of State has ever been voted down. I think he should – he should say, “If you wanna swing, let’s swing” –

MS. FINNEY: And – [crosstalk]- –

MR. MARTIN: — because if he – to me, if he doesn’t nominate her, that emboldens them to say –

MS. BERNARD: Absolutely.

MR. MARTIN: — “We took her out.”

MS. FINNEY: — and by –

MS. BERNARD: Absolutely.

MS. FINNEY: — way, if he takes on the fight, it actually helps him. I think the Republicans think that it’s going to mean he’s going to use up capital. I totally disagree. I think –

MR. MARTIN: Right.

MS. FINNEY: — it is going to strengthen him – particularly with the left, who is –

MR. MARTIN: So –

MS. FINNEY: — ready for the fight.

MR. MARTIN: — I th- — my deal is, “If you wanna swing, let’s swing.”

[CHUCKLING.]

MR. MARTIN: Karen, Chris, Michelle, Rashad, we appreciate it. Thanks a bunch.

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