- The point is made that it's Obama, not Rice. Duh. Of course the decision was made by Obama with discussion from Rice.
- If it's the noise-machine, it always has been--there's always been a noise machine around these things. Clarence Thomas? Sotomayor? And so on. Sometimes you get the bear and sometimes the bear gets you.
What about Hillary? Or Obama? Didn't they take the blame? Well, yes--but as The Wire (possibly the greatest TV show ever) told us: "You best not come at the king and miss." The Republicans could get Rice. Taking on Hillary (very high positives) or Obama (virtually Teflon) would leave them empty handed. Rice is a reachable target.
Obama is engaged in fiscal cliff negotiations (probably deciding to take us over the cliff and then have the Republicans vote to lower taxes on under 250k earners resulting in a win-win-lose because the Republicans eat the responsibility hit on the cliff). Under these conditions Obama does not want to expend political capital on Secretary of State so it's better to lose this battle but win the war.
The war is 2014 and then 2016. The question is exactly how unpopular will the Republican brand be in the older, whiter mid-term elections. If the fiscal-cliff leaves a mark, so much the better. The Democrats probably can't win the house in 2014 but if they hold the line they might win the house in 2016 when Hillary takes over.
That's the plan anyway. I think the Benghazi thing is a political maneuver more than a serious issue and I think this politicized fall-out around Rice is kind of proof-positive of the small-ball it really represents. Major scandals hit Presidents. Big ones? Take down the secretary of state. This stuff? Handing us John Kerry? Well, you do the math.