WASHINGTON (NNPA) – Representative Marcia Fudge, the newly-elected chair of the Congressional Black Caucus, said politically-inspired charges that United Nations Ambassador Susan E. Rice is “not very bright” and is “unqualified” to be named Secretary of State by President Obama are racist and sexist in addition to being untrue.

“ the things they have disliked about things that have gone on in the administration, they have never called a male unqualified, not bright…” Fudge (D-Ohio) said at a news conference called by a dozen women members of the House of Representatives. “There is a clear sexism and racism that goes with these comments being made by…Senator McCain and others.”

McCain attacked Rice, who is under consideration to succeed Hillary Clinton as secretary of state, for saying in September that the deaths of four Americans at the U.S. consulate in Benghazi, Libya, were the outgrowth of spontaneous demonstrations protesting the release of an anti-Muslim film made in the U.S., rather than a planned attack by al-Qaeda, which turned out to be the case.

“Susan Rice should have known better and if she didn’t know better, she is not qualified,” McCain said Nov. 14 on “Fox and Friends.” He continued, “I will do everything in my power to block her from being the United States secretary of state.”

In a round of Sunday morning television interviews four days after the attack in Libya, Rice presented the administration’s official position on the tragedy. In each interview, she emphasized that the views she was expressing were based on information that the administration had at the time and that an FBI investigation would ultimately determine the facts.

Appearing on ABC News’ “This Week,” she told guest host Jake Tapper that the “current best assessment” was that the attack was a response to the video. In closed door congressional hearings last week, former CIA Director David Petraeus confirmed that Rice’s talking points had been approved by the CIA.

McCain described Rice as “not very bright.” Rice graduated from Stanford University with honors, was awarded a Rhodes Scholarship and earned a master’s degree and Ph.D. at Oxford University.

McCain, who selected Sarah Palin as his running mate in 2008, finished 894th of 899th in his graduating class at the U.S. Naval Academy. According to the book, {The Nightingale’s Song} by Robert Timberg, he was a “below par” Navy pilot who lost five military aircrafts before being captured as a prisoner of war.

Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) said he does not trust Rice. He added that “either she didn’t know the truth about Benghazi…or she was spinning it.” Graham said. “I don’t think that’s a good resume to be secretary of state.”

Rice, whose late father, Emmett, was an economics professor at Cornell University and a former governor of the Federal Reserve System, and whose mother, Lois Dickson Fitt, is a policy scholar at the Brookings Institute, worked at Brookings as a senior fellow, was senior director for African affairs at the National Security Council and served as assistant secretary of state for African affairs during President Clinton’s second term. The Senate confirmed Rice as U.N. ambassador by unanimous consent on Jan. 22, 2009.

At a news conference, President Obama last week made clear that if he decides to select Rice, he will not back down from a fight with Senate Republicans over the nomination.

At the news conference called by congresswomen last week, Rep. Gwen Moore (D-Wis.) called the attacks on Rice “not only disingenuous but at odds with the actions and stances they have taken in the past, with other potential nominees.”

In commentary posted on Huffingtonpost.com, Sen. Barbara Boxer , recalled: “In September 2002, then-National Security Advisor Condoleezza Rice appeared on a talk show and claimed that Iraq was importing high quality aluminum tubes that ‘are only really suited for nuclear weapons programs, centrifuge programs.’

“But in 2004, shortly before she was nominated by President George W. Bush to be secretary of state, Rice admitted ‘there was some debate’ at the time about the intelligence behind the aluminum tubes – information she had chosen to ignore during her 2002 appearance. In fact, both the State Department and the Department of Energy believed that the tubes were intended for conventional weapons – not nuclear weapons.”

Boxer added, “Tragically, the false assertions made by Rice and other top officials in the Bush administration helped propel our country into a devastating and costly war in Iraq that claimed more than 4,400 American lives. But somehow, Rice’s role in these profound intelligence failures did not prevent Senators McCain and Graham from championing her nomination to be secretary of state.”

George E. Curry

NNPA Editor-in-Chief