Opinion

Nicholas Wapshott

Benghazi and the Republican abandonment of the center

By Nicholas Wapshott
May 10, 2013

In World War Two, the Libyan port of Benghazi was hard fought over, changing hands five times between Erwin Rommel’s Afrika Korps and the Allied forces. Seventy years on, the city has again become the focus of a fierce battle, this time between Republicans and Democrats over the terrorist attack that killed Ambassador Christopher Stevens and three other Americans on Sept. 11, 2012.

This week’s House committee resumed the fight, with GOP members eager to show the Obama administration at fault. Because Hillary Clinton has already emerged as the 2016 Democratic frontrunner, determining what exactly happened in Benghazi that day has become the first scuffle in the next presidential election.

In the weeks running up to President Barack Obama’s reelection, conservative commentators thought that in the Benghazi deaths they had found an explosive issue that would shock the nation. Despite their best efforts, which elicited an admission of responsibility from the secretary of state, the Benghazi campaign did not move the pollsters’ needle. The campaign to implicate the president andClinton was long on innuendo and short on facts. There was no smoking gun. As a result, voters did not grasp what they were being urged to be indignant about.

Despite this indifference, Republicans are pressing on. The former presidential hopeful and Fox News host Mike Huckabee has high hopes Benghazi will lead to impeachment. “I believe that before it’s all over, this president will not fill out his full term,” he said. “This is not minor. It wasn’t minor when Richard Nixon lied to the American people and worked with those in his administration to cover up what really happened in Watergate.”

But even after the House revisited Benghazi and took evidence from three State Department whistleblowers, the most alarming front-page headline Rupert Murdoch’s Wall Street Journal could come up with was: “Diplomat Airs Attack Details.” And its low-key editorial, “The Benghazi Awakening,” was a quiet plea for more information, not a cry for impeachment. Even the most eager conspiracy theorists may be excused for stifling a yawn. Once again, Republicans have raced off in their own direction, leaving the rest of us wondering what all the fuss is about.

The Benghazi boondoggle has wider implications. The eternal rule of politics is that elections are won and lost in the center ground. It is in the middle that the undecided and uncommitted are to be found. Those who only think about politics every four years are open to persuasion in a way devoted partisans are not. So why, when week after week it has failed to gain traction with Benghazi, is the GOP still cracking the whip at this long-dead nag?

Benghazi is not the only subject that excites the GOP but leaves voters cold. A party set on achieving government looks at what is concerning moderates and formulates policies to meet their needs. Exit polls show 56 percent of “moderates” voted for Obama, which ensured his reelection. This does not mean the GOP must kowtow to focus groups and pollsters, but it does mean being open enough to hear what voters are saying, not putting on headphones and ploughing on regardless with pet obsessions.

Gun control is a case in point. Soon after 20 children were shot dead in Newtown, Connecticut, 90 percent of voters wanted universal background checks and 60 percent tighter restrictions on guns. Nearly five months later, the anger and despair has abated, but still half the electorate want Congress to pass a new gun control law. An indication of how guns have become a key issue for many is the way the gun control campaign group around Gabby Gifford, the gun-owning “blue dog” Democrat House member shot in the head in 2011, has in such a short time attracted 366,000 members and raised $11 million.

A party eager for power would take note of the strength of public passions around the shooting of schoolchildren and work to find a compromise that would preserve gun rights while keeping weapons out of the hands of criminals and crazies. Yet Republicans know better. In the name of the Second Amendment, accompanied by Democrats from rural, gun-toting states, they resist approving even the most temperate measure in the Senate and will not even allow the House to vote. They let their case be made by divisive, implausible figures like the NRA’s tone-deaf Wayne LaPierre. To middle-ground voters, on this issue Republicans appear unreasonable and closed-minded.

Immigration reform follows a similar path. Armed with exit polls showing Hispanics voting 71 percent for Obama and 27 percent for Romney, a party intent on winning the White House would overwhelmingly back immigration reform. As Ronald Reagan put it, “Latinos are Republican. They just don’t know it yet.” But Republicans cannot even agree what addressing the nation’s 11 million undocumented workers would cost if, as is certain, the vast majority were allowed to stay. Looking at the abuse heaped upon those, like Marco Rubio, who lead GOP efforts at reform, middle-ground Hispanics would rightly conclude that the party does not yet deserve their affection.

Some in the GOP leadership recognize that they are seen as unbending and out of touch. Having tried to blame the press for “shoving us in the corner,” House Majority Leader Eric Cantor concedes his party’s leadership is to blame. “We also want to speak to the people who, frankly, have begun to turn us off because they don’t feel we have an agenda that speaks to them,” he said. “What are we doing for that assistant manager of a fast-food restaurant?” Little wonder that a majority of Republican voters disapprove of the party’s leaders, and fewer than one in five independents rate them.

To become so detached from the wishes of ordinary middle-ground voters is particularly strange for a party that favors business and champions the free market. There are companies who successfully nurture a narrow niche and turn a decent profit. Fox News comes to mind. But those who do best from market forces are those who take note of the appetites of all their potential customers and design their goods accordingly.

Those who ignore what the public wants and introduce unpopular products, like Ford and the Edsel, Coca-Cola and New Coke, and most recently Microsoft and Windows 8, must make amends quickly or be forever tainted. Right now the Republicans leadership is peddling unpopular policies to a loyal minority. To win in 2016, pandering to a niche is not enough; it needs to please more than half of America. Any business leader will tell them the same. If the GOP were a company, it would be going bust.

Nicholas Wapshott is the author of Keynes Hayek: The Clash That Defined Modern Economics.” Read extracts here.

PHOTO: (L-R) Acting Deputy Assistant Secretary of State for Counterterrorism Mark Thompson, Gregory Hicks, foreign service officer and former deputy chief of mission/charge d’affairs in Libya at the State Department, and Eric Nordstrom, diplomatic security officer and former regional security officer in Libya at the State Department, are sworn in before the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee hearing on “Benghazi: Exposing Failure and Recognizing Courage” on Capitol Hill in Washington May 8, 2013. REUTERS/Yuri Gripas

Comments
24 comments so far | RSS Comments RSS

Thank you Nicholas – While D. Issa (R-Ca), you know, the one that burned down is factory in Michigan years ago to collect the insurance and then move to CA to start up his car alarm business & make millions – where was the investigation for insurance fraud?, all this rukus about Bengahzi, when we had no business being their in the first place, had it not been for oil company interests that the Republicans bow to, meanwhile in the same week of Benghazi, 39 soldiers were killed in Afghanistan – where is the Republican outrage on that? Was Chris Stevens’ life more important than anyone of those soldiers? I think not!

Posted by OnlyInVirginia | Report as abusive
 

I had an argument with a friend about a year ago regarding a comment I posted on FaceBook. I said, in effect, that Democrats will stand behind a Republican President when the US suffers a terrorist attack (as we saw after 9/11), but we know before it happens that Republicans will view a terrorist attack against the US as an opportunity to score political points. My friend, being a Republican, said it was one of the most ridiculous statements he’s ever been confronted with. I have one word for my friend: Benghazi.

There were numerous attacks against US embassies and consulates under Bush. http://www.stableytimes.com/news/includi ng-benghazi-embassy-attacks-under-obama- 2-geroge-w-bush-11/6775/ Democrats did not comb through every aspect of the reports demanding an investigation when the immediate statements from the White House contained what proved later to be inaccuracies, which is the nature of such things. Republicans, on the other hand, rejoice in terrorist attacks against the US, particularly when death occurs, now that Obama is President. It gives them OPPORTUNITY. And if that upsets the sensibilities of any conservatives out there, I’ve got another word: Iraq. Republicans insisted on war and hundreds of thousands died. I never say ANY indication that this cost of the Iraq War upset any conservatives. Nor did the money, for that matter.

Consider what the Bush Administration told us about Iraq and the lead up to war, how Saddam was behind the 9/11 attacks, and the countless other lies that sucked us into the costly, unnecessary war. Compare that to what Obama first told us about Benghazi. With Bush and Iraq hundreds of thousands of people were killed needlessly. Trillions in tax payer dollars were wasted needlessly. And we KNOW Bush lied. And conservatives are brazenly throwing around the “I” word about Obama and Benghazi (impeachment.) Clearly, CLEARLY, Republicans care more about power than our country.

All I can say is that the fastest growing demographic groups of voters in this country are watching. They know what Republicans are attempting to pull. If the Republicans dare to entangle our government in another Clinton-like witch hunt over this nonsense, you’ll never see another Republican President, not until Republicans decide it’s time to disregard our Constitution with a coup, which is coming. Republicans hate democracy.

Posted by flashrooster | Report as abusive
 

A country in civil war, where a cowardly truck bomb attack at the American embassy kills about 60.

Months pass, and US Marines are sent there with rules that keep them sitting on their hands at a high-rise hotel barracks, as if the flag could be shown from the airport hotel was like having another US Navy ship offshore.

Six months after the first attack another truck bomb kills about 240 Marines in their barracks (and in a simultaneous attack, about 60 French paratroopers die).

Where were the precautions? What about lessons learned from the embassy attack? Where was the national outrage? If this was a reprise of sending several thousand US troops to Lebanon briefly in late 1950s (a mobilization that had Jordanian and other local and NATO support) why in 1983 didn’t we again come armed for bear, control the area, and set up a proper perimeter? We pulled out later in 1983 with little to show for going in but our casualties.

I still remember the sickening headlines from Beirut 1983 under President Reagan, one of the events that earned him the nickname “the Teflon President”.

The State Department gets criticized for using diplomacy instead of force of arms, but sometimes it acheives results we need at lower cost, and sometimes the work is as dangerous. From central America 1950′s to Beirut, Kenya, and Benghazi, diplomacy can be dangerous too.

The Benghazi headlines seem to lack historical persective.

Posted by Decatur | Report as abusive
 

“So why, when week after week it has failed to gain traction with Benghazi, is the GOP still cracking the whip at this long-dead nag?” Because important questions have yet to be answered. The most important, by far, is “Were we, the people, lied to?”

Whether one is a flaming liberal, undecided or obstinate conservative, all Americans expect the TRUTH from those that represent them, both in America and abroad. We should NEVER accept intentional deception.

It increasingly appears that the White House AND the State Department did everything they could to surpress and manipulate emerging information. An American public quite rightfully outraged at the unnecessary death of our Ambassador was deliberately and intentionally fed a diet of “political spin” of incredible inaccuracy.

When Hilary Clinton stated she “took full responsibility” for what happened in Benghazi, she merely stated the obvious. So let’s take her at her word. What does that mean?

Those investigated and found delinquent in their duty must be identified and held professionally and personally responsible. We “need to know” to know who failed in their duty, when, how, and why. You can not fix “mistakes were made”. Incompetents responsible cannot be disciplined or removed that remain unidentified.

Yes, “fixing flaws” should have had top priority immediately following this debacle, but only temporarily. When there are bad apples in the bag, these must be identified and removed for a “permanent fix”. Here a floral scent was sprayed to mask the continuing presence of that which is rotten and the bag since kept closed.

From where I stand her personal judgment, before and after Benghazi, was, at best, questionable. Her policies and procedures in place, recommendations or the lack thereof, and and people “lower down” she either personally chose, approved, or allowed to stay suggest a conspicuous absence of effective leadership.

Hilary Clinton is presently considered a “front runner” for the Democratic Party’s next nominee for the office of President of these United States. Everyone who would cast an informed vote should find this a frightening prospect unless and until “we, the people” learn the true chain of events that unfolded in Benghazi and why.
Susan Rice was clearly “in over her head” and paid the appropriate price. If her superior, the Secretary of State, now refuses to fall on this grenade I fail to see how she retains any professional or political credibility whatsoever.

Posted by OneOfTheSheep | Report as abusive
 

yes, sheep, you fail to see

Posted by nortipper | Report as abusive
 

You’re right, OneOfTheSheep. The American people deserve the truth. That’s why Congress needs to get off their duffs and launch an investigation into what the Bush Administration told us in making his pitch for the invasion of Iraq. All the information available on Benghazi has been made public. The CIA’s initial conclusions were wrong and were corrected. The rest is just the Republicans trying to make political hay out of something that happened 11 times under Bush. Benghazi didn’t cost hundreds of thousands of innocent people their lives. Benghazi didn’t cost the American tax payer trillions of dollars.

Lies? You want lies?
1. “The evidence indicates that Iraq is reconstituting its nuclear weapons program … Iraq has attempted to purchase high-strength aluminum tubes and other equipment needed for gas centrifuges, which are used to enrich uranium for nuclear weapons.” George W. Bush
2. “The British government has learned that Saddam Hussein recently sought significant quantities of uranium from Africa.” George W. Bush
3. “We believe [Saddam] has, in fact, reconstituted nuclear weapons.” Dick Cheney
4. “[The CIA possesses] solid reporting of senior-level contacts between Iraq and al-Qaeda going back a decade.” George Tenet
5. “We’ve learned that Iraq has trained al-Qaeda members in bomb-making and poisons and deadly gases … Alliance with terrorists could allow the Iraqi regime to attack America without leaving any fingerprints.” George W. Bush
6. “We have also discovered through intelligence that Iraq has a growing fleet of manned and unmanned aerial vehicles that could be used to disperse chemical or biological weapons across broad areas. We are concerned that Iraq is exploring ways of using these UAVs [unmanned aerial vehicles] for missions targeting the United States.”
7. “We have seen intelligence over many months that they have chemical and biological weapons, and that they have dispersed them and that they’re weaponized and that, in one case at least, the command and control arrangements have been established.”
8. “Our conservative estimate is that Iraq today has a stockpile of between 100 and 500 tons of chemical weapons agent. That is enough to fill 16,000 battlefield rockets.” Colin Powell
9. “We know where [Iraq's WMD] are. They’re in the area around Tikrit and Baghdad and east, west, south, and north somewhat.” Donald Rumsfeld
10. “Yes, we found a biological laboratory in Iraq which the UN prohibited.” George W. Bush
More lies told by the Bush Administration: The Iraq War would cost $50-$60 billion; Iraqi oil would pay of the war; We would be greeted as liberators; 100,000 troops would be needed for the “liberation” of Iraq; Saddam Hussein was behind the 9/11 attacks; The war should take no more than 6 months.

OneOfTheSheep, little in politics is cut and dry, but this much we know is true: if the Republicans choose to ignore all the lies I just listed, lies that cost 4,500 US soldiers their lives, hundreds of Iraqi civilians their lives, and trillions in American tax dollars, but insist on investigating the initial inaccuracies in the Benghazi reports, inaccuracies reported by the CIA of which Obama had nothing to gain by relaying, then the Republicans are only interested in doing damage to the Obama Administration and Hillary Clinton. They could care less about the truth or our national interests. 4 people were tragically killed in the Benghazi attack. There have been estimates as high as a million killed due to our invasion and subsequent involvement in Iraq. And Republicans want us to believe they care about the 4 Americans at the Libyan embassy who were killed? Heck, they weren’t even concerned about the 20 school children slaughtered at Sandyhook. Our embassy personnel in Libya knew they were in a high risk area. Not so the 20 young victims at Sandyhook.

Posted by flashrooster | Report as abusive
 

Correction: Our invasion of Iraq cost hundreds of THOUSANDS of Iraqi’s their lives, not just hundreds.

Posted by flashrooster | Report as abusive
 

Well said, Nicholas. Couple a rapidly shrinking demographic with an increasingly shrill and discredited message of fear, anger and innuendo and you have a losing national (albeit often winning regional) strategy. Folks such as Huckabee, Beck, and Palin seem more involved in selling merch to the loyalists than in any adult conversation about issues and they have to strike while there’s still money to be wrung out. I’ve yet to hear an intelligent young person who follows them. Now with austerity discredited, the question for me is, Can a moderate-right Republican party even exist anymore? Thanks for the thought-provoking piece.

Posted by donsmith | Report as abusive
 

The right wing media keeps banging the drums for Benghazi, and keep using the word IF before each statement. Hoping people will not catch on, and will instead take their allegations as fact. But the Republican fringe is deeply interested, since it might entrap Hilary, which is their real goal.

The State department budget is small, and their security budget is even smaller. So any resources diverted to Benghazi, and a problem develops elsewhere, guess who would be blamed? Congress (i.e. Republicans) cut the security budgets. Little is being said about that, since it diverts the narrative.

And what about the staff at Benghazi?? How many were CIA and other undercover agents, for which a spotlight is not wanted? This was not a embassy, with all the protection an embassy has.

And people were killed on Bush’s watch attached to embassies and other diplomatic missions, but no hearings were held on those deaths.

As far as nothing happening after the Beruit bombing, under the Reagan watch, there was action. Shortly thereafter, the US invaded Grenada! It is interesting that when Reagan stated he took full responsibility for some action, the questions stopped.

The media demand instant answers, and also demand that those instant answers be 100% unchanging, without wanting to admit that instant answers are rarely complete or totally correct. And there may be factors that don’t allow for total disclosure.

President Obama, over the mistakes of Iraq, stated he wanted to look ahead, not back. Republicans seem to only want to look back, but only if it involves decision by a Democrat.

Posted by pavoter1946 | Report as abusive
 

@flashrooster,

In most, consistency is a virtue. With you, your consistency seems to be carefully weighing both sides of issues and seizing the least logical and supportable.

The “topic” of this column is Benghazi, not Iraq (or the Bush administration). My concern for America’s future is not in the slightest related to past actions in Iraq or the Bush administration. So you are spectacularly off-topic here.

Nonetheless, some who skim comments like this extended rant of yours might exit thinking you a credible commenter and so I will respond. I’m no great fan of George W. Bush, but I voted “against” his opponent. Our political parties today more and more only offer voters a choice between bad and worse. You do what you can.

You seem to forget that Saddam Hussein invaded Kuwait and thus put his boot and the world’s fourth largest military on the jugular of oil from the middle east. For the economy and standard of living in America and most of the western world at the time that oil was “life’s blood”.

Only decades later is it possible for America to breathe easier knowing we will increasingly be less dependent on oil from people and nations that hate us and all that we stand for. Much of the middle east “chose” to support the Axis in WW II, and the Allies could have demanded substantial reparations in the form of cheap oil in virtual perpetuity with their absolute and total victory. We did not.

For that matter, we could have told the Soviet Union, reeling from their “victory” to sit down and shut up and cease and desist copying our bombers and atomic bomb research “or else”. We did not. With 20-20 hindsight history may well look back in a hundred years and ask: “what were they thinking”.

As to your specific “points”: 1. The evidence indicates…”. 2. “The British government has learned…”. 3. “We believe…”. 4. “The CIA possesses INFORMATION which George Tenant believes “solid reporting”…”. Now it is my impression that George W. Bush is not considered the “brightest bulb on the tree” when compared with other presidents yet he inherited comparable challenges while in office.

It is always preferable NOT to be “wrong”, but in every case above it is quite plausible that what then-President Bush was shown or otherwise “privy to” led him to believe the specifics of what he then said. We are all unintentionally incorrect at times in our lives, and those who eventually become wise learn from such mistakes. This is a process quite different from Machiavellian intrigues where distortion and manipulation are evident from the beginning and “truth” is a game occasionally lost and in which little is ever learned by the players.

Continuing with your “points”: 5. “We’ve learned that Iraq has trained al-Qaeda members in bomb-making and poisons and deadly gases … Do you doubt in the slightest that Al-Qaeda possessed these capabilities? If so, it is somewhat less important as to the specifics of how and when since it remains to this day a reality western nations must maintain effective defense. “Alliance with terrorists could allow the Iraqi regime to attack America without leaving any fingerprints.” Absolutely true. Immediately following 9/11 America was not sure who had attacked us on our own soil.

6. “We have…intelligence…”. “We are concerned…”. This is “reading tea leaves” of others…an imprecise science at best.

7., 8.: Saddam Hussein not only possessed poison gas, but used it against Iran earlier. His regime maintained an effective level of secrecy and issued many unverifiable claims.

9., 10.: Rumsfeld turned out to be wrong on this. Considering the number of times he was been right, America was much the better for his contributions. There are times the military must act with less than complete information because the risks of inaction are greater. This is well known as the “fog of war”.

“More lies…”. Nope. All obviously speculation. Let’s be honest…those “hundreds of thousands” of Iraqis killed include those soldiers invading Kuwait, those throw into hopeless battles by Saddam Hussein trying to save his own sorry butt, the Sunni “resistance” to losing their privileged status in Iraq, and sectarian violence bottled up for decades exploding without effective restraint.

If there was glaring fault, it was that of idealists who genuinely believed those in the middle east would rather embrace the opportunity of democracy and peace to authoritarianism and war. We were wrong, and, yes, we have paid a terrible price for THAT. America believed what it believed, and acted on that belief. In the end, Saddam Hussein had to be removed in order to preserve world peace.

When you accuse ANYONE of not being “…concerned about the 20 school children slaughtered at Sandyhook…”. you reveal yourself a hypocritical ideological opportunist, incapable of understanding that the actions of isolated deranged individuals who strike out at our society without warning can not and will not ever be deterred by any rewriting or enforcement of civil law.

You are merely one of many who will not “waste a tragedy” to advance their own political agenda. No “mistakes were made” at Sandy Hook. Any “lessons learned” remain the subject of intense debate. That is quite different from Benghazi and self-serving attempts to avoid responsibility and appropriate change to minimize the possibility of a repeat.

Posted by OneOfTheSheep | Report as abusive
 

The rightie-tighties have relatively little with which to attack the Obama administration, so they’re simply clinging to an issue that keeps their elderly, white, Republican constituents angry. They need it to be a huge “failure” of the Obama Administration alone – proof positive of Obama’s evil – without understanding or admitting that these same “failures” occur in every Administration, of both parties.

Posted by JL4 | Report as abusive
 

OneOfTheSheep: Besides your self-belittling attempts at belittling me, your post is entertainingly ironic. As usual, the big picture eludes you. You painfully twist out these excuses for lie after lie offered us by the Bush Administration, verifiable lies that had some of the most shamefully significant repercussions brought on by any American administration, a price we’ll be paying for a long, long time, then act all concerned about the White House’s initial information on Benghazi being incorrect, despite it being corrected as soon as they knew. There was no lie. The temporary misinformation didn’t cost anyone their lives nor did it cost the tax payers any money. Bush knew there was no attempt on Saddam’s part to get yellow cake uranium from Niger, yet he chose to lie to the American people about it. Bush knew the aluminum tubes could not have been used for the development of nuclear weapons, yet Bush chose to lie to the American people about it. And yet no investigation. It just boggles the mind that you fail to grasp the obvious irony. Don’t investigate Bush’s proven lies that cost our nation so dearly in lives and treasure, and cost the people in Iraq HUNDREDS OF THOUSANDS OF LIVES, but DO investigate the White House and Benghazi. The difference is what happened with Benghazi happens with every administration. What Bush did has never been pulled off by an American President before.

Try applying your excuses you used for Bush on Obama and Benghazi, and see what you get. You’ll find that the only reason they wouldn’t apply is because Obama is a Democrat and Bush a Republican. Of course you’re incapable of admitting it, and no one expects you to.

Posted by flashrooster | Report as abusive
 

@flashrooster,

I don’t need to “belittle you”. You shrink yourself more quickly with fewer words than I could on my best day.

You have far too much anger and hate bubbling in you to think or see clearly, and you suggest that “the big picture” eludes me? Please. Life isn’t about YOU. You simply don’t MATTER.

My views today tend much more Libertarian than Republican or Democrat. At a certain level of the Republican party I finally perceived manipulation and corruption endemic and unacceptable. One is judged by the company they keep.

A word to the wise: repeating what you’ve already said in the same forum but different sequence does not make it less stale and redundant. Can’t find anything fresh to copy and paste here? My condolences.

Posted by OneOfTheSheep | Report as abusive
 

OneOfTheSheep: My apologies. I assumed from your “response” that you didn’t grasp my point about the severity of what the Bush Administration perpetrated on the American people and the people of Iraq. The fact that you claim otherwise makes your response even more perplexing, though not surprising.

I’m not “bubbling” in hate, but the anger is pretty strong, and that’s our main point of contention on this subject. Having a US President and his administration prevaricate us into a war that cost hundreds of thousands of people their lives, including 4,500 American soldiers, and trillions of dollars should make everyone angry, very angry. The fact that it doesn’t seem to bother you is deeply disturbing. The fact that you’re more bothered by Benghazi is both sadly ironic and revealing, revealing in a way that underscores my point about you and the Republicans: it’s all about politics.

Posted by flashrooster | Report as abusive
 

@OneOfTheSheeps asks, “Were we, the people, lied to?”

No, we weren’t.

While the Benghazi attack was not immediately labeled as a “terrorist attack”, waiting until facts are confirmed before inflammatory conclusions are made is a sign of prudence, not deceit. Recently history should be a VIVID reminder of the dangers of rushing to inflammatory, but ultimately false conclusions. Furthermore, as we do not live in a perfect world, terrorist attacks are sometimes successful despite our best efforts. I would not blame the Benghazi attack on Hillary Clinton any more than I would blame 9/11 on Bush Jr. To do either is to let politic blind you to the true dangers in our world.
So when you, like the GOP, repeatedly ask “Were we, the people, lied to?” and the answer is “No” every time, it becomes clear their question is based in rhetoric rather than reason. The type of questioning that makes one a “Truther” with a delusional conspiracy theory rather than a person actually interested in the truth. The type of questioning that, while appropriate for an Inquisition, is very unbecoming of a US political party.

Posted by RexMax46 | Report as abusive
 

flashrooster,

What I find “perplexing” is that you, and many like you, think people like Saddam Hussein can be ignored. They can’t. They have to be “taken out”, sooner or later.

Since Bush, America has attempted negotiations in good faith with North Korea and Iran to no avail. It is they who ignore us even as each pursues their own agenda which, if you don’t know, is nuclear blackmail as soon as they have capability.

The 4,500 American soldiers who were killed are each as precious as those killed in WW II. My father was one of those. But freedom has a continuing price and those 4,500 were a “bargain”, as offensive as that term must sound, when compared to the likely American death toll had Saddam continued in power to today and the “taking out” process not yet commenced. Military tacticians know it is usually less costly in terms of lives to attack ASAP, thus denying an enemy time to further prepare available defenses.

Perhaps the principal difference between your perspective and mine is that you deem Iraq an “unnecessary” war, while I deem it absolutely unavoidable in the long run. Here we just have to “agree to disagree”.

I, too, am angry at the “mistakes made” in dismissing the Iraqi military, in the corruption, waste and sheer incompetency of American reconstruction and ineffective reconciliation efforts, etc. But once that money and “good will” were spent, that “bell” cannot be “unrung”. I stifle my anger because if I don’t it so clouds my thinking as to give any and all opponents undue advantage.

Would I like to see Haliburton and the other contractors and subcontractors investigated and the guilty incarcerated? YES! Will this ever happen? No. Why? Take your pick of excuses…my guess is the reality of such influence as to effectively deflect meaningful inquiry. So yeah. America is supposed to be more competent that has been seen of late.

To be candid, unless America were to have made Iraq and/or Afghanistan protectorates (like Puerto Rico) we could never have applied the value of their oil reserves to our financial “cost” of liberting them. As someone said, you break it, you “own it”…the bad situation, not their natural resources. Did America learn anything? Yeah. ANOTHER way to LOSE in Afghanistan.

It was unavoidable that “Afghani leadership” (oxymoron) “take the point”. Hamad Karsai has proven to be as effective and popular as our South Vietnamese “allies” of the seventies.

We deliver him bags of cash daily and he regularly deals directly with the Taliban, repeatedly accuses our people of “atrocities”. His shames and corruption rub off on us with no end in sight. Our sole alternative has supposedly been to hand the “keys to the country” BACK to the Taliban and watch jihadi groups return to recruit, train and mount attacks worldwide from that cesspool and it’s neighbor Pakistan.

Personally, I think we could have done much better dealing with the Afghani warlords of the Northern Alliance. We certainly could not have done worse!

Benghazi is absolute “proof positive” that the U.S. is NOT learning lessons from it’s recent experience(s) necessary to protect it’s interests, either at home OR abroad. WHY? There is a conspicuous absence of effective “leadership”…no worthwhile goal(s). No goals, no plan. No plan, no priorities. We are not acting, but reacting; and I see no prospect of change whatsoever! THAT’s what “bothers me!”

Posted by OneOfTheSheep | Report as abusive
 

Republicans accuse the Obama administration of politicizing the Benghazi talking points. However, the far worse politicization has been the continuing hearings by the Republicans.

Time to move on GOP and pass jobs legislation.

Posted by Leftcoastrocky | Report as abusive
 

The Teapublican hearings are costing the country money. I propose that Fox News pay for them.

Posted by Leftcoastrocky | Report as abusive
 

When a diplomat agrees to go to the Middle East, they understand the risks they take. I don’t doubt that every effort is made to ensure the safety of those Americans. Sadly, that can’t always be done.

This is an obvious witch hunt – a desperate and transparent attempt to smear Obama with anything Republicans can get their hands on. It is proof-positive that Republicans have lost their minds and can’t move past their frenzied and irrational hatred for all things Obama.

I’m with Leftcoastrocky, it’s time for the GOP to move on and focus on US economic legislation, but fat chance for that. History will not reflect well on the Republicans for their 8 year hysteria.

Posted by JL4 | Report as abusive
 

My understanding of the issue was that the White House and State Department, due to being the middle of a political campaign, effectively doctored the talking points to minimize the impact on an election.

Granted the President was overtly naive when he said his administration would be the most transparent relative to past administrations, and has proven otherwise. The fact is that the political pressure he is enduring is because of that commitment to the American public.

When a novice speaks, he should not be offended when he compromises his promise. Nor, should the Sec’y of State as she is ultimately responsible for not increasing the level of security and protection for the diplomatic team under her command. Especially when one considers the diplomatic teams from other Western governments were pulled from Benghazi as the security situation deteriorated. Be it ignorance, or a simple failure to act, does not diminish her accountability.

Posted by COindependent | Report as abusive
 

What’s missing on both sides is that 4 Americans died. So when liberals say this is all right-wing politics, they trample on the graves of those four fellow citizens. And when conservatives say this for sure worse than Watergate (no one died there) without all the facts yet, they are racing past those same graves. Those four families deserve answers. Neither side even thinks of them. They’re just collateral damage.

The best thing that could happen is Obama get impeached, Hillary disqualified from running in 2016, and the public so mad at how the GOP got to the truth that we actually elect an independent candidate in 2016 and leave both parties dangling in their own messes.

Posted by lfreel1more | Report as abusive
 

There are some really questionable statements in this piece. A little more diligence with the fact-checking would have been nice. I know this is an editorial, but truth is always the most convincing argument…

Posted by Blackshirt | Report as abusive
 

This blog does an injustice. First the “background check Bill” had many errors and it did more than background checks for buyers. It required background and fees multiple times. With federal felonies for normal usages. That is why it was defeated. Non gun owners do not know about FFL fees. FFL dealer who are just someone who is licensed and collects these often high fees.
Nicholas do a better job of telling the public why. It is so important that the details are discussed. The Obama administration has not informed the public on specifics. So they do not understand.

On Benghazi The teabagger core of the GOP is not the conservative party of Reagan but a new beast interested in money. They think that the poor are just leeches and the seniors who do not have a good pension plan should be thrown under the bus. All in the name of no taxes.
Benghazi gives this rabid core a anger point as most have no understanding of international diplomacy or intelligence operations.
Yes you are right that they are giving the presidential election to the democrats. But IMO is not their goal. It is controlling congress. Obama has given the rabid core a two reasons. 1. the Benghazi incident and 2. the gun control issue. These strike non urban populations hard.

Posted by vxx | Report as abusive
 

Excellent leadership from the top breeds cooperation to get things accomplished. Obama early in his tenure set the tone. He bred divisiveness and sowed discontent. Now the country is paying the price. Look at previos presidents in history, both democrats and republicans.. They did not create such division and had relatively successful terms. Strong and constructive leaderships in government or the private sector unite not divide. This is the lesson of Obama’s presidency.

Posted by Globalman | Report as abusive
 

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