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Politics is an ugly business, and that fact was proven yet again over the handling of Susan Rice, the current U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations, whose name was floated as a possible successor to Secretary of State Hillary Clinton. Float no more. Rice withdrew from contention and we’re bummed. Here’s why.
We’re not taking a stand on whether she should have gotten the job. We just wish she remained in contention because that meant there was a chance another woman would be our chief diplomat. Rice would have been the fourth woman to hold the post and the second African American woman. Now, without any other female candidates on the horizon, it is likely that a woman will no longer represent us to the world.
Since we haven’t achieved equal status in terms of winning the White House -- yet, it has been great for American women (including this writer!) to at least have a woman – like Madeleine Albright, Condoleezza Rice or Hillary Clinton – travel on behalf of us on the world stage. Think about this – for 12 of the last 16 years, a woman has been our top diplomat, our ambassador to the world. 12 years! That is now likely going to end when Clinton leaves her post after the end of President Obama's first term and takes a much-deserved break from national and international politics.
What also has us bothered is the treatment of Rice. We wonder if she would have experienced the same trouncing if she were a man. Republicans -- mainly led by Senator John McCain (R-Arizona) – took her to task over what she said the administration knew surrounding the attack on the U.S. consulate in Benghazi, Libya, an attack that left a U.S. ambassador and three other embassy staffers dead. At the center of the firestorm were a series of appearances Rice made on the Sunday talk shows just days after the attack. No one ever said it but it seemed that mixed in the rhetoric were suggestions she just wasn't competent for the job.
Would a man have been treated the same way? It’s fair to say the Republican opposition to Rice also includes women, including Senator Kelly Ayotte (R-New Hampshire). Still, we think hard-charging political women are picked apart in a way that men often aren’t and sadly that is why too many of them think politics just isn’t for them.
WATCH: Our recent iVillage 5 on how Rice was enemy #1 in Republican circles.