Saturday, May 03, 2014

Why There Is No Cure for the GOP's Benghazi Swamp Fever

Issa - GOP Demagogue
The swamp fever that afflicts much of the GOP base likewise afflicts a number of leading Republicans in Congress.  Two favorite litany's of the afflicted focus on Obamacare and Benghazi, the latter being an obsession since it allows the GOP to bash both Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton.  Lost, of course, in the spittle flecked rants is the GOP's own role in slashing funding for embassy security, etc.  A piece in Mother Jones looks at why there is seemingly no hope that the GOP fever over Benghazi will fade away.  Here are highlights:
The current outbreak of Benghazi Fever shows how strong the virus is—and that it is apparently immune to basic remedy.

On Friday, the Republicans went full Benghazi. House Speaker John Boehner announced he was setting up a special House committee to investigate the attack—that is, the Obama White House's response to it. Meanwhile, Rep. Darrell Issa (R-Calif.), the chair of the House government oversight committee, subpoenaed Secretary of State John Kerry to testify before his committee on May 21 about the State Department's handling of GOP congressional inquiries about Benghazi. (Apparently, Issa is now probing a supposed cover-up of the original supposed cover-up.)

This week, Issa, Fox News, and other Benghazi-ists rushed to the ramparts once again, when a White House email was released showing that a top Obama aide had suggested that an administration spokeswoman defend the president's policy regarding the Arab Spring and the Muslim world following a series of anti-American attacks that included the September 11, 2012, assault on the US diplomatic facility in Benghazi. 

A-ha! cried the Benghazi truthers. Here's proof that the White House schemed to convince the public that the tragic attack—which claimed the lives of Ambassador Chris Stevens and three other Americans—was merely the result of protests spurred by an anti-Islam video made by some American wacko, not the doing of Al Qaeda or its allies.

President Obama and his comrades, the Benghazi truthers insist, wanted to cover up the politically inconvenient fact that Al Qaeda-ish terrorism was responsible for the killing of four Americans, since acknowledgment of this would have tainted the counter-terrorism credentials of Obama, the Bin Laden slayer, and decreased his chances of reelection.

But as we know now, the CIA and the State Department took the lead in fashioning the talking points.
And the new email from Rhodes is pretty standard stuff, indicating a White House desire to justify its policy on the Arab Spring in the face of troubling events.

Moreover, the Rhodes email is a reminder of how far off the rails the Benghazi-bashers have gone. At the bottom of the second page of his four-page memo is proposed language for discussing the Benghazi attack: "The currently available information suggests that the demonstrations in Benghazi were spontaneously inspired by the [anti-video] protests at the US Embassy in Cairo and evolved into a direct assault against the US Consulate and subsequently its annex." According to the internal White House emails released last year, this was how the CIA had asked for the event to be described.

The new batch of released emails—the one containing the Rhodes note that has launched a thousand Fox News reports—includes an Al Jazeera report filed the night of the attack. It reads,
Witnesses say an armed mob has attacked the US consulate in the Libyan city of Benghazi and set fire to the building in what they way was a protest at [sic] a film deemed offensive to Islam's Prophet Muhammad.
Just hours earlier on Tuesday, thousands of Egyptian demonstrators apparently angry over the same film—an amateur film produced by expatriate members of Egypt's Christian minority resident in the US—tore down the Stars and Stripes at the US embassy in Cairo and replaced it with an Islamic flag.
Compared to the on-the-ground reporting that night, the Times' investigation, and the Senate intelligence committee's finding, the original talking points presented by Rice hold up. At the least, this was a plausible explanation and, if these other accounts are accurate, not too far off the mark. The anti-Islam video and the protests in Cairo had been a factor.

[T]his should have been case closed, a long time back. Still, Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) on Thursday accused the White House of running a "cover-up." And an angry Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) said White House officials who lied about the attacks are "scumbags." On Wednesday, House majority leader Eric Cantor proclaimed that the Rhodes email proved the White House had "misled" Congress and the public.

For Obama's political foes, the Benghazi narrative—that is, their reality-challenged version of it—offers too much benefit to be abandoned. It serves three fundamental desires of the right. The get-Obama crusaders have long wanted to show that the president is just another weak-on-defense Democrat, to demonstrate that he is not a real American worthy of being president, and to uncover an explosive scandal that eviscerates Obama's presidency and provides cause for impeachment. 

 Benghazi, in their feverish minds, has had the potential to do all of this. It is a candy store for many conservatives—no matter that the bins are empty. They will not—cannot—let it go. Nor can they simply focus on the real issues of what went wrong that dreadful night and what must be done to prevent another such disaster. They are love-sick for Benghazi. And for that, there is no cure.

Sadly, to be a leader in today's GOP, one needs to be both a demagogue and a tawdry whore to the most insane elements of the GOP base, much of which is motivated by raw racial hatred toward America's first black president.  

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