Say it with me…”Benghazi IS NOT Watergate.”
Of course, if you’re not one of the Republicans in Congress who are continuing to pursue the Benghazi story, repeating over and over that Benghazi is not Watergate may not do any good. Even in the face of now resigned General David Petraeus’ testimony that the reason the administration withheld information they had linking the September 11th, 2012 attacks on our consular building in Benghazi to Al Qaeda was simply to not tip the terrorist group off to the fact that we knew it was them, Republicans were all over the Sunday news shows debating whether or not there’s more to this story in terms of a cover up. But as Petraeus’ testimony so clearly shows, there was indeed an effort to keep details of the attack from the public, but that it is no different than when police detectives withhold key pieces of evidence in a murder case so as not to tip-off a suspect that they are on the hot seat. That explanation is apparently not good enough when you’re a member of a political party who was just very publicly and emphatically rejected in a national election.
So it’s becoming clear that Republicans in Washington are increasingly anxious to create some kind of scandal to get President Obama thrown out of office. Perhaps they view it as their only way of being able to stop him from getting the Bush Tax Cuts to expire on homes making more than $250,000 annually. Whatever the reason, they see this as their Watergate. They see this as their little story that mushrooms into a massive cover up that so enrages the American public that they have no choice but to toss his ass out of office. The problem is, the facts of the incident just don’t point towards that scenario playing out to their benefit.
General Petraeus could not speak to who exactly decided to remove the Al Qaeda information from the talking points that U.N. Ambassador Susan Rice was using to speak to news shows about the incident with. But he did make it very clear in his testimony that there was no political motive for withholding information, only a procedural one. That procedure is known more commonly as “catching the assholes who perpetrated an act of terror on one of our consular buildings.” The amount of melodrama coming from the right on this is comical, if not really sad. Their party is in the middle of a major identity crisis, and instead of looking inward to figure out how to make different ethnic groups and women not fear their Draconian policies, they are allowing the NeoCon war hawks to run rough shod over them. Benghazi should be chalked up to an opportunistic terrorist cell doing what opportunistic terrorist cells do, and instead of trying to focus on whether or not the Obama administration or the intelligence community may have kept key details cloaked in secrecy for the purpose of an investigation, House Republicans should be focusing on how we’re going to get the people who carried out this attack, and how we can prevent this from happening again.
And there’s the pesky little fact that has been pointed out on probably dozens, if not over a hundred blogs and news stories about the ire and indignation coming from the right: consular building were attacked all throughout George W. Bush’s term. Where was McCain’s righteous indignation over American deaths back then? Or does he genuinely want us to believe that the Bush administration, which lied to us about WMD’s in Iraq, which completely gave up on the hunt for Bin Laden, and who willfully ignored or dismissed intelligence warning us of the attack on September 11th, 2001, handled all the attacks on consular buildings completely out in the open? That assertion is of course laughable, but that seems to be the story the GOP is running with now.
I’m of two minds when it comes to Benghazi. The truth is that it’s time for the country to have very real and serious discussions about our budget and taxation. The Benghazi story is nothing more than a distraction, a way for Republicans to get together and harumph their way through talking points without answering questions about why they insist on protecting tax breaks for the wealthiest people in our country at the expense of the poor and middle class. So that’s extremely damaging and frustrating to the country as a whole. However…
There’s an admittedly cold and cynical side of me that hopes the GOP doesn’t let go of this new chew toy of theirs and they take it to the furthest point they can, all the whole ignoring the fiscal cliff. It’s clear from the evidence that this story is dead in the water, but that didn’t stop Rep. Darrel Issa from charging after the Obama administration over the so-called “Fast & Furious” scandal, so why would that stop the Republicans now when dealing with Benghazi? If the overall goal is to rehabilitate the Republican party into a group of people who may not agree with us ideologically, but who at least operate from a starting point based in reality, maybe they need to chase the rabbit down the hole on Benghazi. I can’t imagine that if they ignore the fiscal cliff voters will be very forgiving. I can’t imagine that if they stall on tax talks or stall on immigration reform that 2014 will have a very rosy outcome for them, so maybe giving them enough rope to do the job themselves is precisely what the left should be doing.
The identity crisis that the Republican party finds themselves in is exemplified perfectly in this dust-up over Benghazi. Despite mounting and concrete evidence to the contrary, many vocal Republicans are choosing to live in an alternate reality. In their reality Ambassador Rice was complicit to a grand cover-up for political reasons of a tragedy in the Middle East. In their reality the administration botched the job because four Americans died, but when the same things happened under Dubya’s term it was just part of the war on terror to expect collateral damage, I guess. The Republican identity crisis is actually good for everyone, no matter what side of the aisle you stand on, because when the dust settles we’ll either have one Republican party that still believes in all the bat shit crazy things they do now and Democrats will continue to marginalize them in national elections, or we’ll have a Republican party that has either ejected or silenced their old, angry white guy contingent and we can get down to solving problems in this country.
And I’m not sure which outcome I’m hoping for the most, by the way.