So the big news this afternoon is that U.N. Ambassador Susan Rice has withdrawn from consideration to become Secretary of State, via a letter to the president that cited the likelihood of a “lengthy, disruptive and costly” confirmation process if she were nominated.

This not-so-subtle reference to the campaign of demonization against Rice being led by Sens. John McCain and Lindsay Graham is making the political implications of the withdrawal a much more prominent issue than the gig itself. Are Rice and Obama (assuming he had some role in this decision) rewarding bad behavior and guaranteeing its perpetuation? Is Graham going to carry Rice’s letter around the more atavistic precincts of South Carolina as a magic amulet against a right-wing primary challenge in 2012? Was this whole exercise a GOP plot to get John Kerry appointed to State so that Scott Brown can return to the Senate? Will the administration now be constrained to find a woman and/or minority member for the job?

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