Who knew that Susan Rice was a Thomas Gray lover? He was the poet who, in his widely forgotten “Ode on a Distant Prospect of Eton College,” penned the unforgettable line that, “where ignorance is bliss, ’tis folly to be wise.”
Rice, whom Obama would like to have serve as his Secretary of State is reveling in her ignorance about events in Benghazi. As you recall, five days after Islamists engaged in an organized terrorist attack against the American presence in Libya, killing four, she made the rounds of the talk shows assuring Americans that this was all a movie review run amok.
By this time, of course, the CIA, the DNI, and the White House all knew this for the lie it was. Heck, the Times, inadvertently betraying the administration it serves, had already revealed information in news stories proving that Benghazi was a terrorist attack.
Rice isn’t backing down, though. She’s doing the only thing someone who is either a liar, or incurious to the point of imbecility, can do: she’s blaming others. Thus, when a reporter asked her about her talk show presentations, she cheerfully pleaded ignorance:
As a senior US diplomat, I agreed to a White House request to appear on the Sunday shows to talk about the full range of national security issues of the day, which at that time were primarily and particularly the protests that were enveloping and threatening many diplomatic facilities—American diplomatic facilities—around the world and Iran’s nuclear program. The attack on Benghazi—on our facilities in Benghazi—was obviously a significant piece of this,” Rice explains.
When discussing the attacks against our facilities in Benghazi, I relied solely and squarely on the information provided to me by the intelligence community. I made clear that the information was preliminary and that our investigations would give us the definitive answers. Everyone, particularly the intelligence community, has worked in good faith to provide the best assessment based on the information available. You know the FBI and the State Department’s Accountability Review Board are conducting investigations as we speak, and they will look into all aspects of this heinous terrorist attack to provide what will become the definitive accounting of what occurred.
Interestingly, Gray’s little remembered Ode paints a grim view of the knowledge that comes with experience. Looking down in Eton, he envies the young boys their innocence, joy, and resiliency. For him, at least, real life is the kind of thing that makes you want to run and hide:
Alas, regardless of their doom,
The little victims play!
No sense have they of ills to come,
Nor care beyond today:
Yet see how all around ‘em wait
The ministers of human fate,
And black Misfortune’s baleful train!
Ah, show them where in ambush stand
To seize their prey the murtherous band!
Ah, tell them, they are men!
These shall the fury Passions tear,
The vultures of the mind,
Disdainful Anger, pallid Fear,
And Shame that skulks behind;
Or pining Love shall waste their youth,
Or Jealousy with rankling tooth,
That inly gnaws the secret heart,
And Envy wan, and faded Care,
Grim-visaged comfortless Despair,
And Sorrow’s piercing dart.
Ambition this shall tempt to rise,
Then whirl the wretch from high,
To bitter Scorn a sacrifice,
And grinning Infamy.
The stings of Falsehood those shall try,
And hard Unkindness’ altered eye,
That mocks the tear it forced to flow;
And keen Remorse with blood defiled,
And moody Madness laughing wild
Amid severest woe.
Lo, in the vale of years beneath
A grisly troop are seen,
The painful family of Death,
More hideous than their Queen:
This racks the joints, this fires the veins,
That every labouring sinew strains,
Those in the deeper vitals rage:
Lo, Poverty, to fill the band,
That numbs the soul with icy hand,
And slow-consuming Age.
To each his sufferings: all are men,
Condemned alike to groan;
The tender for another’s pain,
The unfeeling for his own.
Yet ah! why should they know their fate?
Since sorrow never comes too late,
And happiness too swiftly flies.
Thought would destroy their paradise.
No more; where ignorance is bliss,
‘Tis folly to be wise.
I was planning on ending this post by saying that I’m sure Rice would agree with Gray’s sentiments. On the the hand, given that she’ll soon be failing upwards, it’s questionable whether she has any regrets at all.