Wednesday, May 15, 2013

Benghazi - Testing 2016 Swift Boats

When war hero Kerry ran against draft dodger Bush, the Republican truth-transformers attacked Kerry's strength with pure fiction and created enough doubt by those who wanted to believe in Bush and those who couldn't believe that anyone would so blatantly lie. 

Now they're back, looking for ways to tarnish Hillary Clinton's State Department experience.  To what extent have Americans learned how to see through these illusionist tricks?  To what extent will the people who helped Obama turn Romney's business career into a liability  be able to do that with the next Republican candidate?

  • Is there actually some real meat to the Benghazi attacks?  Depends on what you mean by real meat.  
  • Was their a difference of opinion inside the administration?  Lots of them. There always is.  It's only natural.  It's not a crime or even bad.  (Well for Republicans it is.)
  • Did they leave out information that might have been damaging to the President just before an election?  Seems like it.  Would the Republicans have done the same?  They know perfectly well they would have.
  • Was Libya dangerous and was the Benghazi consulate under protected?  No question about it.  There are dangerous places all around the world that are under protected and right now and the Republicans were a major force for cutting the State Department budget.  

Was the White House at its best in this situation?  Definitely not.  And I have issues with a lot of things this White House is doing.  But I also know the job of President isn't easy and there will be mistakes.

It's never easy, in the middle of things, to know whether the opposition is raising important points that should be asked or whether they are trying to turn Benghazi into a liability for the likeliest Democratic presidential candidate.

A good way for me to test this is by looking at how they treated similar situations in their own party.  It's pretty clear now, for instance, that George W. Bush had plenty of warnings about potential Al Qaeda attacks before 9/11.   But Democrats as well as Republicans pretty much united after 9/11.

Few Republicans voiced any serious problems as the Bush administration's deceptions when it became clear their claims of Iraq's weapons of mass destruction were much weaker than the told us.  Some Democrats did, but that was a situation far more serious.  Here we have some spinning - making a story look as good as they could - after the fact.  With the WMD we had them leaving out very crucial information about a decision to lead the country into a huge and costly war.

Should we go back to events like Iran-Contra?  St. Ronald (clearly Reagan holds that status among most Republicans) team broke the law and lied to get weapons to Iran to free hostages and to use some of the revenue to help right wing rebels in Nicaragua in clear violation of the Boland Amendment that expressly prohibited any assistance to the Contras rebels.  These were serious, intentional violations of American policy and law.

Could Ambassador Stevens' life have been spared?  Quite possibly.  But we don't know because there is a lot of information that hasn't come out.  We also know that Stevens was one of the savviest Americans in Libya.  He made the decision to go to Benghazi.  And if one report is to be believed, he turned down offers for more security from the Department of Defense.

We also know that Sen. McConnell made defeating Obama his number one priority.  That is consistent with what many believe is unwavering obstruction of everything Obama proposes from health care to appointments to making every issue they can into a political scandal that distracts attention from the business of running the country well. 

Now that Obama can't run again, Republicans are aiming at other candidates. 

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