Sunday, May 04, 2014

Trying to Rank Scandals, Phase Four: When It's More About Humiliation Than About Justice...

It's been awhile since I've written about scandals - and how we need to form an unbiased effective means of determining which scandals need investigating and which deserve to get ignored - but an update with one of the events talked about - the GOP obsession with Benghazi - has taken place:

It is by sheer coincidence that just as Obamacare recedes as an issue, House GOP leaders have announced their intent to create a Select Committee on Benghazi—something they've long resisted—and that Oversight Committee Chairman Darrell Issa, perhaps overcome by zeal to maintain control over the issue, subpoenas Secretary of State John Kerry to testify about the 2012 attack—despite the fact that Kerry was a senator at the time, and hasn't been invited to testify, and is currently visiting Sudan.
The pretext for all this is the release of an email from White House adviser Ben Rhodes, which includes as a bullet point the goal that in speaking about the attack, then-U.N. Ambassador Susan Rice should "reinforce the President and Administration's strength and steadiness in dealing with difficult challenges."
Slate's Dave Weigel did a great job earlier this week of placing the email in chronological context, to discredit the argument that the email represents evidence of a "cover-up." And while it might appear a bit unseemly for administration officials to be concerning themselves with the president's image and the administration's competence in the midst a crisis… this is actually completely uncontroversial. Would John Boehner and Darrell Issa have preferred it if Susan Rice went on TV that week and granted that the administration was in complete disarray? Or had refused to take a position on the administration's handling of the situation?...

The early responses from the left side of the aisle has been "Oh great, they're finally going there" alongside analysis that the Republicans are desperate to re-stage another round of Benghazi investigations because their 2014 Midterms talking point of "ObamaCare is broken and must be repealed" is falling apart as enough voters don't believe it's broken and are seeing enough benefits out of it.

But it's problematic to just dismiss the Republican obsession with Benghazi off-hand.

The reason the Republicans keep jumping on Benghazi is because it is a legitimate tragedy: four people died due to errors in security.  This isn't like the Far Right harping on Obama's birth certificate, or mocking whether or not Obama uses a teleprompter, or whether Obama ties his shoelaces in a proper American fashion.  This isn't even the matter where an IRS office in Ohio investigated Tea Party SuperPACs (the other big scandal the wingnuts obsess over, but which is meaningless because the IRS office investigated a lot of other SuperPAC 501s as well).  Benghazi is a real problem because people died.

But the Republicans have to realize they're pushing a scandal well out-of-proportion to the facts, and pushing it in such a way that all other outside observers will view it as insanity.  The Republicans seem to focus on how the Obama White House was handling the "messaging" in the wake of the attack, as though that was a cover-up worth having (or that the messaging would reveal malign intent of some kind).  The GOP House is looking into the standard back-and-forth of interoffice communications rather than focus on the real scandal: how the security systems for our overseas consulates broke down (and what can be done to re-enforce that security).

But I doubt the Republicans will want to dig too deep into the real scandal of Benghazi: that's the problem behind the GOP's All-Benghazi mission.  The Republicans' objective isn't to fix the problems: the Republicans' objective is to make Obama look like a failed President (and the Democrats all look like librul un-American incompetents).  At all costs.

The other reason the GOP is hitting hard on Benghazi is that it's also a way to attack the supposed front-runner for the Democratic Presidential primaries for 2016.  As Secretary of State at the time, Hillary Clinton is someone the Republicans want to have held accountable: they want to drop the four dead State employees around her neck like a millstone.  The Republicans want to turn this tragedy into another Chappaquiddick, another Willie Horton.

It's as TBogg writes over on Raw Story: Benghazi is all they got (remember Solyandra?  Remember the Birth Certificate?  Remember Rev. Wright's radical Christianity and Obama Still being a Secret Muslim on the side?  Remember Death Panels?  Remember a failed website rollout?  Remember nationalizing the auto industry?  Remember how Obama ties his shoes, even when he wears loafers?).   Just like pursuing Bill Clinton over Whitewater and Vince Foster led to getting impeached over blowjobs: the Republicans do not care about the facts or about justice, they only care about purging anybody who stands in their way of achieving their "permanent majority rule" of their 100-year Pax Reaganicus.

Someone tweeted or blogged a quip that ended up in the recent Balloon Juice take on the Benghazi obsession: Who could’ve predicted that when the GOP establishment handed Nixon the pearl handled revolver in the parlor, we would have to impeach every Democratic President for the next forty years to balance things out? It seems that way, doesn't it?  I mean, granted they never impeached Carter, but that's because Democrats controlled Congress his term of office (and Carter still angered Congress enough to hover on the edge of impeachment).  It's been noted before how it's gotten to where it's expected for the Republicans to impeach a Democratic President because they can't handle the idea of a Democrat sitting in the Oval Office... the current GOP can't seem to handle the idea of honest bipartisanship... the Far Right can't accept the possibility of making political deals and compromises of any kind, and there's no moderate faction (hello, RINO purity purge) to make those deals anymore...

So we get this: a partisan response to investigating a scandal.  What happened in Benghazi does deserve investigation... but not as a political attack aimed to humiliate Obama or Hillary.  That way lies madness, and a refusal to make things work in government while the powers-that-be pursue a bullsh-t political agenda.

This is not how we should fix the nation's woes.

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