Tuesday, January 14, 2014

Differences Between BridgeGate and Benghazi

Because, as sure as sunrises and sunsets, the Far Right's primary defense of Chris Christie's involvement in shutting down an interstate bridge is "but what about BENGHAZI?"

(also, they're screaming about the IRS office in Cincinnati investigating Tea Party PAC groups, but "Benghazi Benghazi Benghazi" is easier to roll off the tongue during the shouting matches, and also because the investigations revealed progressive groups were targeted as well, muddying the outrage)

If the Far Right Noise Machine really thinks they can equate "BridgeGate" ("A Bridge Too Far Right" is too wordy) to "Benghazi," then they've got more problems than they realize.

For starters, what happened in Benghazi where our ambassador to Libya and other staffers were killed is pure tragedy.  What's happening in New Jersey where Chris Christie's staff used a bridge shutdown as political retaliation (against whom, the investigations are still trying to narrow down) is pure farce.

Four people died and various wounded in the Benghazi attacks.  One elderly woman needing medical help was stuck in that trapped bridge traffic and later died, and there were most likely a lot of people suffering stress and minor health issues as well.  The bridge shutdown also interfered with a missing child search (the girl was later found).

The causes behind the Benghazi attacks are not 100 percent clear, either a part of mass rioting going on throughout the Middle East over a really bad anti-Muslim film trailer making the rounds, or a coordinated attack by militia groups in recently liberated Libya influenced by Al-Qaeda.  The causes behind the bridge shutdown are not 100 percent clear, either a retaliation against the Fort Lee mayor who refused to endorse Christie for the governor re-election campaign, or a retaliation against the state Senate majority leader from that district who's leading efforts to block Christie's state judicial nominations.

The Benghazi scandalmongers are convinced the matter goes all the way up to the White House (Obama!) or at least the Secretary of State (Hillary!) in that there was a cover-up after the incident to "hide damaging evidence" that the State Department failed to adequately defend our embassy and consular offices in a war-zone.  The critics - mostly the Far Right as well as much of the Congressional GOP - also accused Obama of not taking the matter seriously and failing to call it an "act of terror."  However, despite all the screaming and more than a year of congressional investigating, most of those accusations have yet to be proven.  And Obama DID call the Benghazi attacks an "act of terror" the day after.

The BridgeGate scandalmongers are convinced the matter of the bridge shutdown being political retaliation point to the fact that the cover story - a "traffic study" - makes no sense (Traffic studies don't work that way, and if there was a traffic study there would have been public notices and meetings beforehand).  They also believe that the order for the retaliation goes all the way into the Governor's office, and can prove it because Christie's deputy chief of staff Bridget Anne Kelly was caught sending an email to a Christie-appointed official David Wildstein that "it was time for some traffic problems in Fort Lee."  And while Christie himself has been firing staffers like Kelly as quick as possible and claiming "I didn't know," Christie's own public persona as a "hands-on" leader (as well as professional bully) makes his Sgt. Schultz-esque "I know notthink" excuse fall flat.  Meanwhile, the bridge closings has opened up a slew of investigations at the state AND federal levels (because closing an interstate bridge is a federal matter) with all affected parties - New Jersey, New York City and State, the U.S. - digging in.

So there you have it, the differences between Benghazi and BridgeGate.

What this all means: we need a way to grade-scale our national scandals, because I'm sick and tired of every new scandal being labeled "Worse Than Watergate."

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