Steve Benen: It’s always a shame when a smear campaign works. Today, Susan Rice withdrew her name from consideration for Secretary of State, and President Obama issued a statement acknowledging that he’s accepted her decision.
“For two decades, Susan has proven to be an extraordinarily capable, patriotic, and passionate public servant. As my Ambassador to the United Nations, she plays an indispensable role in advancing America’s interests. Already, she has secured international support for sanctions against Iran and North Korea, worked to protect the people of Libya, helped achieve an independent South Sudan, stood up for Israel’s security and legitimacy, and served as an advocate for UN reform and the human rights of all people.
“I am grateful that Susan will continue to serve as our Ambassador at the United Nations and a key member of my cabinet and national security team, carrying her work forward on all of these and other issues. I have every confidence that Susan has limitless capability to serve our country now and in the years to come, and know that I will continue to rely on her as an advisor and friend. While I deeply regret the unfair and misleading attacks on Susan Rice in recent weeks, her decision demonstrates the strength of her character, and an admirable commitment to rise above the politics of the moment to put our national interests first. The American people can be proud to have a public servant of her caliber and character representing our country.”
…. Her GOP detractors treated Rice as a partisan pawn to be eliminated, in the hopes of embarrassing the White House. The real embarrassment is the baseless smear campaign that’s unfolded over the last month — and the fact that it ultimately worked as planned.
Washington Post: President Obama is considering asking Sen. John F. Kerry to serve as his next defense secretary, part of an extensive rearrangement of his national security team that will include a permanent replacement for former CIA director David H. Petraeus.
Although Kerry is thought to covet the job of secretary of state, senior administration officials familiar with the transition planning said that nomination will almost certainly go to Susan E. Rice, the U.S. ambassador to the United Nations.
John O. Brennan, Obama’s chief counterterrorism adviser, is a leading contender for the CIA job if he wants it, officials said. If Brennan goes ahead with his plan to leave government, Michael J. Morell, the agency’s acting director, is the prohibitive favorite to take over permanently. Officials cautioned that the White House discussions are still in the early stages and that no decisions have been made….
ABC: …“I don’t pay hardly any payroll taxes,” Buffett said. “Gov. Romney hardly pays any payroll taxes, Newt Gingrich hardly pays any payroll taxes. Debbie pays lots of payroll taxes.”
He lashed out at assertions from many Republican leaders that the “Buffett rule” is class warfare.
“If this is a war, my side has the nuclear bomb,” Buffett said. “We have K Street. … We have Wall Street. Debbie doesn’t have anybody. I want a government that is responsive to the people who got the short straw in life.”
TPM: President Obama and the Democrats have succeeded at convincing voters that Republicans are trying to delay economic recovery, according to a series of recent polls.
The new data suggests that about half the country, including a majority of self-identified independents, believe that congressional Republicans are using their political power to thwart Obama’s efforts to reduce unemployment, presenting Democrats an opportunity to make this argument more explicitly as the 2012 campaign moves forward – to undercut Republicans’ claims that Obama and the Dems bear full responsibility for the economy, and to make their pattern of obstruction a real liability for them.
WH: …. On Monday morning, the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities released a new report based on the Census Bureau’s new data which found that provisions passed as part of the Recovery Act directly lifted nearly 7 million Americans out of poverty in 2010 and reduced poverty for 32 million more. This is on top of 6 million people lifted out of poverty by these policies in 2009. And these numbers are conservative estimates that do not reflect the indirect benefits from the jobs created through these policies.
In contrast to this approach, Republicans in Congress opposed all of these measures and passed a budget that would both cut back on many of these programs and also convert them into block grants, which would prevent them from automatically expanding in hard times. Had we followed that path, many more Americans would be in poverty today.
Steve Benen: The new national Gallup poll shows where the race for the Republican presidential nomination currently stands.
1. Mitt Romney: 21% (up one point from October)
1. Herman Cain: 21% (up three points)
3. Newt Gingrich: 12% (up five points)
4. Rick Perry: 11% (down four points)
5. Ron Paul: 8% (no change)
6. Michele Bachmann: 3% (down two points)
7. Rick Santorum: 2% (down one point)
8. Jon Huntsman: 1% (down one point)
The development that will get the headlines, obviously, is the fact that Cain has caught up to Romney at the national level, and Gingrich’s recent bump that’s pushed Perry to fourth place.
But what I still find remarkable is Romney’s inability to put some distance between himself and the rest of the Republican field … He’s running against misfits, clowns, and con men, and Romney’s still stuck at 21%.
Reuters: President Barack Obama’s fortunes are improving slightly, although he would face a tough struggle for re-election next year if Mitt Romney were the Republican nominee, a Reuters/Ipsos poll said on Friday.
Forty-nine percent of Americans approve of the way Obama is handling his job as president, up from 47 percent in an October poll.
President Obama meets with NATO Secretary General Anders Fogh Rasmussen at the White House, November 7
Steve Benen: …. I’m not in a position to evaluate the merit of the claims against Cain. I would note, however, that (a) the number of accusers matters; (b) it seems unlikely all four are part of a coordinated, 15-year campaign organized by the media, liberals, racists, the D.C. establishment, and Rick Perry.