Race Matters, Actually
In D.C., being black and female is a plus — as long as you’re also a Democrat.

U.N. Ambassador Susan Rice


Victor Davis Hanson

For all the president’s condescending talk daring Rice’s critics to come after him instead, we should note that Rice herself apparently welcomes being in the arena. Here is what she undiplomatically remarked about potential critics in an interview for a book earlier this year: “People know not to mess with me. And if they haven’t learned, and they try, then they will learn.” So it is left to her supporters to make the case that Rice had an inspired diplomatic career in the Clinton administration, or that her current tenure at the U.N. has been characterized by adroit diplomacy, which we perhaps saw on display with the U.N. recognition of a Palestinian state.

It also was recently announced that Susan Rice reported a net worth of somewhere between $30 and $40 million – information that appeared in the popular media only after one of the nastiest campaigns in modern memory, whose central theme was that Mitt Romney and his supporters were 1 percenters whose affluence was prima facie proof of some sort of moral or legal failing.

There is nothing in Rice’s past to suggest that her own race, gender, or class was a disadvantage in her cursus honorum. In the nexus of elite universities and Democratic politics — whether Stanford University, the Rhodes Scholarship, or the Clinton administration — being black, female, and elite is far more advantageous that being white, male, and poor. In postmodern America, it is considered noble to prejudge people on the basis of their race and gender, but it can be ignoble to postjudge them on the basis of merit. Note, in this regard, that no one seems worried that Susan Rice and her husband have ample investments — among them energy companies involved in the Keystone-pipeline project — that might have posed a conflict of interest for a high-ranking State Department official.

So what are we left with in this racial psychodrama that is no longer about whether a potential secretary of state serially misled the American people, but rather is about whether to point that out is racist?

We are asked to believe that a multimillionaire African-American woman, who boasts that those who “mess” with her end up badly, is a victim of racism for not being welcomed as a nominee for secretary of state — a position that has not been held by a white male in 15 years — after she went on five television shows the Sunday after the Benghazi attack in an effort to convince Americans of the absurd myth that their ambassador had been killed in the course of a demonstration gone bad, rather than being murdered in a preplanned al-Qaedist hit.

NRO contributor Victor Davis Hanson is a senior fellow at the Hoover Institution and the author, most recently, of The End of Sparta, a novel about ancient freedom.