THE BATTLE was joined over U.N. Ambassador Susan Rice’s confirmation, which occurred in President Obama’s first press conference since his reelection.

After being carved up in the press, starting on Fox News, Rice had been hung out until the question was asked today by ABC’s Jonathan Karl. Obama clearly relished the moment to finally get Rice’s back, whom he believes has been an exemplary representative of the Administration and this country, with all evidence supporting this judgment.

The fight flashed in Barack Obama’s eyes as he delivered the salvo, in one of his finest moments of pure passion, purpose and offense, not defense, of Susan Rice, which should lift the spirits of everyone working for this President to make sure his second term succeeds, beginning with the moment he begins to redraw his cabinet.

“She made an appearance at the request of the White House in which she gave her best understanding of the intelligence that had been provided to her. If Sen. McCain and Sen. (Lindsey) Graham and others want to go after somebody, they should go after me. When they go after the U.N. ambassador apparently because they think she’s an easy target, then they’ve got a problem with me.” – President Obama

Senator Graham, who has taken to playing a sort of mini me to John McCain, was quick to release a response:

“Mr. President, don’t think for one minute I don’t hold you ultimately responsible for Benghazi. I think you failed as Commander in Chief before, during, and after the attack,” he said in a statement. “We owe it to the American people and the victims of this attack to have full, fair hearings and accountability be assigned where appropriate. Given what I know now, I have no intention of promoting anyone who is up to their eyeballs in the Benghazi debacle.” [Fox News]

This comes after both McCain and Graham have called for “Watergate style” hearings in the Senate, which could freeze Obama’s movement and bottle up his policy goals before he even gets started. But the real issue is Senator John McCain playing commander in chief from the sidelines, because he was denied the position by the American people. This waning warrior revved up to put it to the uppity White House civilian who never served, with Graham happy to play plebe.

Ed Henry of Fox News Channel, continued on Benghazi, though not with journalism as his guide.

“I wanted to ask about the families of these four Americans who were killed. Sean Smith’s father Ray said he believes his son called 9-1-1 for help and they didn’t get it. I know you said you grieve for the four Americans, that it is being investigated, but the families have been waiting for more than two months. So I would like for you to address the families, if you can: On 9/11, as Commander-in-Chief, did you issue any orders to try to protect their lives?”

The self-righteousness of this approach from a journalist, skirting a specific issue, but instead requesting the President to “address the families,” hit Obama exactly as it did me. Arrogant and assuming to suggest that the Administration wouldn’t immediately do everything it could at all levels to save Americans and keep them from harm whenever possible.

This has been the assumption on the right, dereliction of duty the obvious inference in Graham’s statement.

As for other issues, nothing was asked at the presser about entitlements.

Tax rates were discussed, with news out of the presser that they seem negotiable. The wealthy will be asked to do more, but dealing with them specifically is currently negotiable. Obama firmly believes the math on the top 2% is with him and so are the American people, including those who didn’t vote for him.

And alert the right, climate change is real, as is the pressure on Republicans to do something about immigration, with Congress and Obama’s staff already in talks on multiple levels, the President said today.

The main message, President Obama presented himself as a hero of the middle class, with any mandate he has coming from his charge to protect working people who make up the heart of this country. Once again, it was Ed Henry who provoked the response:

“I’ve got one mandate. I’ve got a mandate to help middle class families and families that are working hard to try to get into the middle class. That’s my mandate. That’s what the American people said. They said, “˜Work really hard to help us. Don’t worry about the politics of it. Don’t worry about the party interests. Don’t worry about the special interests. Just work really hard to see if you can help us get ahead because we’re working really hard out here and we’re still struggling a lot of us.’ That’s my mandate.” – President Obama

However, all dimmed when compared to President Obama’s almost gallant offense of an Administration official who is highly respected for her work at the U.N., loyal, as well as beloved.

In comparison to Graham’s high pitched squeal from the bleachers, there was no comparison in class or pitch.

However, if Obama wants Rice at State, which all reporting suggests, what was difficult because of Benghazi just became a point of male ego on the Senate side.

Rice’s nomination will require a campaign, which was helped by Obama’s words today that can be used by allies to help make it happen. It will require women’s groups and everyone wanting this woman at State to get involved, provided Obama decides he wants this fight.

Dramatic day.