Newly appointed National Security Advisor Susan Rice (R) speaks after US President Barack Obama (L) appointed her during an event in the Rose Garden at the White House in Washington, DC, June 5, 2013. AFP PHOTO/JIM WATSON
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David Brooks, the New York Times columnist, describes the distinction between "resume virtues," the tokens of meritocratic success, and "eulogy virtues" that truly define someone's character. Rice's story and, indeed, Obama's combine both in a compelling but sometimes unstable mix.For all her privilege, Rice was famously pugnacious. That's a telling criticism from Obama, who could be Mr. Cool to a fault.The Benghazi fallout changed Rice's life, probably for the better.Behind Rice is the extraordinary figure of Obama, whom she acknowledges was "consistently the smartest guy in the room" whenever the NSC met. It's impossible not to feel nostalgic for his intelligence and personal reticence these days, as the country is buffeted by a president whose personal qualities are a reverse image of his predecessor.
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