As Republicans criticize U.N. Ambassador Susan Rice, some members of Congress are suggesting that racism and sexism may be behind the attack.
Rep. James Clyburn, D-S.C., says that the attacks on Rice have gone beyond her job performance. When asked about Rice on CNN's Starting Point on Tuesday, Clyburn said that words like "lazy" and "incompetent," which have been used to describe black members of the administration, including Rice and President Obama himself, are reminiscent of language used to undermine minorities in decades past.
"You know, these are code words," Clyburn said. "We heard them during the campaign. During this recent campaign, we heard Senator Sununu calling our president lazy, incompetent — these kinds of terms that those of us, especially those of us who were grown and raised in the South, we would hear these little words and phrases all of our lives, and we'd get insulted by them."
A Republican was the first to appoint African-Americans to the office of secretary of State -- the highest-ranking appointed position in a presidential administration. President George W. Bush named Colin Powell to the job, followed by Condoleezza Rice.
Sens. John McCain, R-Ariz., and Lindsey Graham, R-S.C., have attacked Rice in recent weeks for her Sunday show appearances in the days following the terrorist attack in Libya that killed four Americans, criticizing her for not going further to label the assault a terrorist act. On Monday, 97 House Republicans sent a letter to President Obama saying that Rice is unfit to succeed Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton.
The administration has said that Rice was simply using talking points supplied by the intelligence community during her television appearances.
Last week, Rep. Marcia Fudge, D-Ohio, the new chairwoman of the Congressional Black Caucus, also suggested that the attacks on Rice go beyond her job performance.
"It is a shame that any time something goes wrong, they pick on women and minorities. I have a real issue with that," Fudge said. "For you who are haters, as the young people say, your hate is going nowhere. Just go on and hate on, but look in the mirror and hate yourself, not the people that do this work."