William Goldman, the famous screenwriter of movies like The Princess Bride and All the President’s Men, once recounted the tale of a meeting he had with a movie producer in Las Vegas. The producer was juggling phones and laying it on pretty thick trying to hype the movies he made and the stars he worked with, all while Goldman sat quietly by reading a magazine and waiting for the guy to finish whatever deal he was trying to close. At one point, the producer stops dead. He’s stuck–I mean, really stuck–his mouth moving but no words coming out, his eyes darting back and forth as he tries to sort out some unseen crisis. Then quickly, urgently, he motions for Goldman to come over and help him out.
“Bill–Bill!‘ he says, his voice a raspy, desperate whisper. “Which lie did I tell?”
The story neatly sums up the way business is done in Hollywood: Never let a perfectly good lie go to waste. It’s also a lesson that Washington has taken to heart, and why not? Politics has often been called showbiz for the ugly, so it seems only fitting that they adopt the same business model.
Which brings us–again–to Susan Rice.
By now it’s pretty obvious that the former national security adviser to Barack Obama has a relationship with the truth that’s rather like the relationship Sid Vicious enjoyed with his girlfriend Nancy. Her prevarications on the Benghazi attacks that killed four Americans just ahead of the 2012 election were already the stuff of legend. And yet somehow she managed to top herself when it came to light that Rice was the person who requested the unmasking of Trump associates who were being surveilled by American intelligence agencies. That surveillance, which was supposedly conducted as part of a wider investigation into Russian contacts with members of Donald Trump’s campaign and transition team, is now the subject of a Congressional investigation. But now, for some reason, Susan Rice–who apparently thought the matter so important that she risked the appearance of using intelligence assets for political gain–has nothing to say about it.
Here’s what CNN is reporting:
Susan Rice…declined Sen. Lindsey Graham’s request to participate in a judiciary subcommittee hearing next week on Russian interference in the US election, CNN has learned.
A letter obtained exclusively by CNN from Rice’s lawyer, Kathryn Ruemmler, outlines the grounds for her decision not to appear. It was addressed to Graham, the Republican chairman of the judiciary subcommittee on crime and terrorism, which is holding the hearing, and senior Democrat Sheldon Whitehouse.
“Senator Whitehouse has informed us by letter that he did not agree to Chairman Graham’s invitation to Ambassador Rice, a significant departure from the bipartisan invitations extended to other witnesses,” Ruemmler wrote. “Under these circumstances, Ambassador Rice respectfully declines Senator Graham’s invitation to testify.”
A source familiar with Rice’s discussions told CNN that when Graham invited her, Rice believed it was a bipartisan overture and was prepared to accept. However, Whitehouse indicated to her that the invitation was made without his agreement, as he believed her presence was not relevant to the topic of the hearing, according to the source.
Yes, I’m quite sure that Rice couldn’t wait to put in an appearance to clear the air. . .until she found out that the Sheldon Whitehouse hadn’t put his own SWAK on the invitation. Perhaps Graham should have also dotted the i’s in his letter with little hearts and sprinkled some glitter on the envelope, asking pretty please with sugar on top to sweeten the deal. After all, it is a hearing about the thing that Hillary Clinton and the Democrats have been blaming most for her election loss.
Or could it be that Rice is having a little trouble remembering: Which lie did I tell?
That’s the problem with spin. Between the surveillance and the leaks, the dossiers and the unmasking, Rice and her compatriots from the Obama administration–many of whom are still holed up in the Deep State–have floated so many conflicting stories that even they can’t keep them straight anymore. I don’t know about you, but with that kind of pressure I wouldn’t want to testify in front of a Congressional committee either.
Which is s shame, really–because there isn’t much doubt that the Russians really have been trying to monkey with our elections, and it would useful to know the full extent of their shenanigans. It’s also becoming clear that there has been widespread abuse of the instruments of government, including our intelligence agencies, to further political goals. Both of these present a real danger to democracy–and both need to be exposed.