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Who is Susan Rice and Why Did Obama Nominate Her? And is She Related to Condi Rice?

By December 1, 2008

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As President-elect Barack Obama announces a handful of nominees today, it's good to see capable, competent, highly-qualified women in the mix. Of course we know Senator Hillary Clinton. And Arizona Governor Janet Napolitano, though not a household word, is recognized and respected in political circles.

But who is Susan Rice, and why is Obama choosing her to be the US Ambassador to the United Nations? Is she the younger sister of Condoleezza Rice? or a relative or something?

The woman some Democrats jokingly refer to as "our Dr. Rice" is not related to Condi in any way, shape or form...although both share some interesting similarities:

  • Both have a connection to Stanford - Susan attended the university while Condi taught there.
  • Both just celebrated their birthdays in November. In fact, they're exactly ten years and three days apart - Condi's birthdate is November 14, 1954 and Susan's is November 17, 1964.
  • Both are African American women who have risen to prominent roles in the white-male-dominated field of foreign policy - Condi as Secretary of State in the George W. Bush administration, and Susan as Assistant Secretary of State under Bill Clinton Both had 'firsts' associated with their tenure - Condi was the first African American female Secretary of State, while Susan worked directly under the first female Secretary of State, Madeleine Albright, who coincidentally happens to be an old family friend.
  • Both grew up in a cultured, privileged household with parents who were college-educated.
  • Both attended an all-female high school.
Beyond that, Susan is not a fan of Condoleezza Rice. As the New York Sun reports:
Like Mr. Obama, Ms. Rice has long been a fierce critic of the Bush administration's foreign policy, and she does not look to Secretary Rice as a role model.

"I don't select role models on the basis of race and gender," she said in a telephone interview. She praised the two previous secretaries of state, Madeleine Albright and Colin Powell, but she said the jury was still out on Secretary Rice's tenure.

If her nomination goes through (and by all accounts it should), then she'll get to prove herself as a major player on the world stage in 2009 and beyond as the United States' Dr. Rice and not just the Dems.

Photo of Susan Rice courtesy of The Brookings Institution

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December 3, 2008 at 10:45 am
(1) Sandra Manigault says:

Thank you for this information on the new Dr. Rice. However, I feel that it is somewhat presumptive and disrespectful on the part of the writer to feel that it is appropriate to address these distinguished women as “Condi” and “Susan”. They are not personal friends of the writer nor are they personal associates of the readers. It is bad enough for male journalists to do this, but professional women journalists should know better. If you think back to the Reagan administration, was his Secretary of State, Dr. Kissinger, ever addressed by his first name?

December 3, 2008 at 11:10 am
(2) womensissues says:

Good points, Ms. Manigault, and well made. However, I’ll offer this rebuttal:

First, follow the link to my profile of Dr. S. Rice (and Dr. C. Rice) and you’ll see I pay her the respect that is due them. Second, what you read above is a blog, a casual conversation that I have with my readers – thus I assume a more informal voice. To refer to both as “Dr. Susan Rice” and “Dr. Condoleezza Rice” would not only be unwieldy and burdensome but would put both women at arm’s length in the reader’s mind with the more formal use of their title. What matters is that we see them as whole women in the context of their lives – and connect with them in ways that exceed ‘due respect.’ Isn’t that what Obama’s change platform is all about?

December 19, 2010 at 8:15 pm
(3) B. ILoanusi says:

Well, all I see are two intellectuals with lots to contribute to the world, through their views. Yes they both served different administrations. Maybe one …Condo a bit too OTT and possiblly did not eandear herself and probably too pollarised… Oil and Gas… Hallibutton…(sp) wonder why She was never implicated in the ongoing Hallibutton issues….please write me and explain yourself…..it would vindicate you..and trust me I will make it public! benalonzu@yahoo.com, but nonetheless, two extraodinary women of courage and extreme intelligence. Keep it up. Obama/Bush, thank you for trusting in, and bringing these women to prominence.
I still know and trust that Obama’s foreign policies will create world peace! keep the momentum going! and ignore the non believers. I believe! Ben

March 2, 2011 at 4:37 pm
(4) Mohammed Obimo says:

I know Condaleeza Rice, and Susie is no Candoleeza Rice. She is joke.

August 8, 2011 at 1:40 am
(5) Lanre says:

What role did Ms. Susan Rice played in the murder of Chief M.K.O. Abiola in July, 1998? Was she sent by the American government to poision the tea served to the acclaimed winner of the June 12, 1993 presidential election? Who was she working for? Why did she take the role of the assassin? Is this woman fit for public office or a jail house?

August 23, 2011 at 12:19 pm
(6) PPP says:

As usual, african american is playing the race card, and by selecting their own to fill up those places.

August 24, 2011 at 8:37 pm
(7) thetruthseer says:

They are both MK Ultra!!!

Carbon copies and soul-less robots.

September 16, 2011 at 8:56 pm
(8) docklc says:

Dr. Rice is the correct apellation for both. If you wish to distinguish between them use the first name initial, as was mentioned–though downplayed–in the rebuttal.

I, for one, believe respect for our achievements is denigrated by attempting to familiarize with terms like Dr. Laura (who, I understand, does not have a doctorate in the field in which she likes to claim to be an expert.)

I have been more impressed by Dr. S. Rice than Dr. C. Rice, but both are highly intelligent and impressive women. Anyone who believes otherwise is only showing their own ignorance. And, just for the record, I am a 71 year-old white guy.

February 6, 2012 at 5:39 pm
(9) billy says:

To the person who says they shouldn’t refer to them by susan or condi…y not this is the internet plus it makes it less confusing….but besides all that and b4 I seen her name I thought she was related to “condi” because she looks A LOT like her, and I’m black

October 25, 2012 at 6:40 pm
(10) SheepleUSA says:

May I ask, is she lesbina and is she a jew?

November 27, 2012 at 1:16 am
(11) Commenter says:

No offense, but it’s common sense why she referred to them as Susan and Condi.

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