Whatever happened to last year's breakout stars?
The president has just been reelected and looks to replace his secretary of state with a Ms. Rice who has already served in a senior administration position. The minority party in the Senate is threatening to obstruct her confirmation because she propagated faulty intelligence. The administration defends her, saying she merely recited the most credible intelligence of the moment and had no intention of misleading anyone, but the senators’ questions persist.
No, that’s not today! That was eight years ago when George W. Bush appointed his national security adviser, Condoleezza Rice, to be the nation’s top diplomat a week after winning reelection.
Today, for the second straight day, President Obama’s U.N. ambassador, Susan Rice, whom he may nominate to be secretary of state, met with recalcitrant Republican senators on Capitol Hill to try to assuage them. And today, for the second straight day, the Republican senators immediately found reporters and informed the world that they were not satisfied. Today it was Republican Sens. Susan Collins and Bob Corker. Yesterday it was Sens. Kelly Ayotte and Lindsey Graham, along with the ringleader of the opposition, Sen. John McCain. The senators say that Rice misled the American people when she went on Sunday morning political talk shows after the Sept. 11 Benghazi attack and, citing talking points provided to her by the intelligence community that later proved to be false, said the attack grew out of a protest against an anti-Islam film.
Eight years ago, when Bush appointed Condoleezza Rice in 2004, Democrats said that she misled the American people when she propagated intelligence that later proved to be false. In her case, it was about Iraq’s alleged weapons of mass destruction. She also sent a letter to Senate Democrats in March 2003 claiming that the U.S. had briefed U.N. weapons inspectors on what they knew about Iraq’s WMD program (they had not). And Democrats also charged that she concealed the CIA’s doubts about whether Iraq had sought uranium from Niger — she said there was “consensus” within the administration when in fact there was not; the story turned out to be false.
So what did the Republican senators questioning Susan Rice today say about the Condoleezza Rice committing the very same alleged crime then? A Nexis search turns up nothing from Collins or Graham of relevance. (Ayotte and Corker were not yet in the Senate.) McCain actually defended her. All three then-senators voted for her confirmation.
Whereas McCain is today giving the intelligence community the benefit of the doubt and placing the blame on Susan Rice, in 2004 his finger was pointed squarely at the intelligence community. “The president of the United States was told by the director of intelligence that the weapons of mass destruction information was a ‘slam dunk … So it was great failures, and we all know that the CIA has to be reformed,” McCain said on “Meet the Press” in November 2004 while discussing Rice’s nomination. A few days later he told Lou Dobbs on CNN: “I serve on the Commission on Weapons of Mass Destruction, and there is no doubt that the CIA is dysfunctional and there needs to be significant and fundamental changes made.”
During Rice’s confirmation hearings, where Democrats grilled her on the faulty intelligence, Rice echoed McCain. “Obviously, there were problems with the intelligence concerning Iraq (and) weapons of mass destruction,” Rice said.
But she should not be held responsible for their mistake, she explained. Asked why she told everyone in the lead-up to the war that Saddam Hussein was reconstituting his nuclear weapons program, Rice replied: “The majority of agencies in the intelligence community did. I was representing, Senator — and I’ve made this available for the record — the views of that majority.” She even expressed outrage at the CIA’s failure: “We cannot have a situation where the director of the CIA, when asked about Iraq, weapons of mass destruction, tells the president of the United States that it’s a quote, ‘slam dunk,’ when nothing could have been further from the truth.”
This is essentially the same argument Susan Rice is making today (though with far less finger wagging at the CIA). The difference is that Republicans were willing to believe it when Condoleezza Rice said it, and not willing to cut Susan Rice the same slack.
When California Democratic Sen. Barbara Boxer suggested Condoleezza Rice had misled the American people, Rice replied indignantly, “We can have this discussion in any way that you would like, but I really hope that you will refrain from impugning my integrity. I really hope that you will not imply that I take the truth lightly.”
You’ll see none of the same calls from Republicans today in regards to McCain’s more acute impugning of Susan Rice’s integrity and honesty. The Benghazi attack was a tragedy. The Iraq war was an enormous disaster of global and historic importance. Yet when Democrats delayed the first Rice’s confirmation vote a week to have more debate, White House chief of staff Andrew Card dismissed Democrats’ concerns as “petty politics” and urged senators to stand down. What changed? Party affiliation.
The star of “Beasts of the Southern Wild” charmed practically everyone at the Oscars, where she was the youngest best actress nominee ever; she went on to film a remake of “Annie” opposite Jamie Foxx and Cameron Diaz.
Carly Rae Jepsen
Jepsen, who had 2012’s song of the summer with “Call Me Maybe,” released the fifth and final single from her debut album in January 2013. She toured the U.S. in mid-2013 -- just as Daft Punk and Robin Thicke battled to succeed her as icons of the summer.
Honey Boo Boo
2012’s biggest reality star, the young pageant contestant Alana Thompson, had a quieter time this year, with a second season whose ratings were strong but whose buzz was a bit muted. America was, by now, accustomed to young Thompson, and outraged or scandalized reactions were reserved for other TLC programming, like “The Man With the 132-Pound Scrotum.”
Ocean missed out on the top Grammys for which he was nominated in early 2013; he bounced back quickly with featured appearances on albums by Kanye West, Jay Z and Beyoncé, and is at work on a new album. Things are looking up!
The “21 Jump Street” and “Magic Mike” star had a marginally less charmed 2013, with “White House Down” failing to connect with moviegoers and “Foxcatcher” delayed until next year. It may get worse before it gets better: His big 2014 sci-fi flick, “Jupiter Ascending,” looks … well, a little weird!
With their third album in 21 months hitting No. 1 immediately upon its fall 2013 release, the boy band that broke into America in 2012 would seem to be here to stay for a while. Still, they looked a bit nervous in their reaction shots during the Video Music Awards’ ‘N Sync reunion; maybe not this year, maybe not next, but eventually, the Justin of One Direction is going to break out. For now, though, things look good!
Lana Del Rey
The famously uncomfortable “Saturday Night Live” musical guest overcame endless mockery from 2012 to land her first top-10 hit in the summer of 2013 -- a remix of a year-old song, “Summertime Sadness.” As the co-writer of “Young and Beautiful,” the love theme from “The Great Gatsby,” Del Rey is such a front-runner for the best original song Oscar (last won by Adele) that there has been a direct-mail campaign to academy voters against her. The song was also played at the most romantic event of the year: Kanye West’s stadium marriage proposal to Kim Kardashian.
Wilson, who charmed fans of 2012’s “Pitch Perfect,” had a rockier 2013, with her sitcom “Super Fun Night” struggling creatively and in the ratings. Her next planned movies are both sequels, to “Kung Fu Panda” and -- hoping lightning will strike twice -- to “Pitch Perfect.”
Another 2012 music icon, Gotye won the record of the year trophy at the 2013 Grammys for “Somebody That I Used to Know.” He released no new singles in 2013, and has told the press he has been struggling to complete new material. Good luck, Gotye!
The golden boy of the 2012 Olympics, without feats of aquatic derring-do to distract the public this year, saw his always-tenuous persona completely shift from “amiable jock” into “utter dolt” with his E! reality series. Worst of all, the series was canceled.
In 2012, the young actress -- best known for her role in the indie “Winter’s Bone” and a supporting part in the “X-Men” franchise -- had marquee roles in the first “Hunger Games” film and in David O. Russell’s comedy “Silver Linings Playbook.” In 2013, she played to her strengths: After winning an Oscar, she starred in the second “Hunger Games” movie, on whose publicity tour she managed to charm everyone in America, and had another role in a David O. Russell comedy, “American Hustle,” for which she might just win ANOTHER Oscar. By 2014, she may end up running a major studio, or serving as president.
The breakout bikini model of 2012 made a repeat appearance on the cover of the Sports Illustrated swimsuit issue -- and got to do high-fashion spreads in Elle, Vogue and Vanity Fair. She was cast in a Cameron Diaz comedy, too. Some types of appeal are eternal!
E. L. James
The “50 Shades” novelist now gets to help share some input into a movie adaptation set for release in 2015. She probably never needs to work again! Isn’t that great? Isn’t that … just … great?
The “Gangnam Style” phenom performed at New Year’s 2013, but will spend New Year’s 2014 flipping channels to find his pistachio ad, his goofy antics having been outdone in the past year by “The Fox” singers Ylvis. Nothing meme can stay.