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Today feels like 2012 all over again: Conservative leaders and critics are once again focusing their attention on U.N. Ambassador Susan Rice, who many still believe deliberately misled Americans about the attacks in Benghazi last September. Despite withdrawing her name from consideration for Secretary of State in December, and having her name cleared by a trove of Benghazi-related emails released in May, Rice reoccupied the center of controversy on Wednesday, following reports that President Obama will appoint her to replace Tom Donilon as the White House's national security advisor. This time, however, the right is beginning to drop their defenses much more quickly — perhaps because there's no confirmation process for her new position, and there's nothing much they can ultimately do about it. Here's a guide, still with plenty of anger but ultimately acceptance, to that transformation in the making:

Stage 1: But Rice Lied About Benghazi!

This stage is self-explanatory:

The Washington Post's Jennifer Rubin:

Ambassador to the United Nations Susan Rice, who leapt from dishonest talking points to out and out falsehoods (it was a spontaneous attack sparked by an anti-Muslim narrative!) on the Benghazi attack, gets her reward today — a promotion to national security adviser. 

Stage 2: But Rice is Incompetent!

In other words, there's no scandal-scandal, but she's a bad choice based on her merits (more about that here):

Rubin, in the same post:

It is noteworthy that President Obama did not have the nerve to nominate her for secretary of state, where she would have faced an onslaught of questions about her infamous Sunday talk show performance.

Stage 3: Obama Just Wants Revenge!

Since Rice's new position doesn't require Senate confirmation, of course Obama chose Rice to get back at Republicans for attacking her last fall:

Rubin, again:

The move is an in-your-face insult to Congress, to the Americans killed in Benghazi and their families and another instance of utterly incompetent, dishonest loyalists getting the really big jobs (e.g. Chuck Hagel).

Stage 4: Resignation

Well, they tried:

Rubin:

The temptation is great for Republicans to lash out at people unconnected to or blameless in the Benghazi fiasco because they can’t get to the people really responsible (e.g. the president, the current and future national security advisers, Hillary Clinton). But we should have little patience with such behavior.

Stage 5: Acceptance, or, Let's Change the Subject!

It's really time to move on:

Rubin, one last time:

By the way, where is the subpoena to demand Clinton’s and David Petraeus’s testimony?

(Both Clinton and Petraeus have testified about the Benghazi attacks.)

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