Far be it from me to stand up and defend Barack Obama or Hilary Clinton. But the Republican attempt to embroil his administration in a ‘cover-up’ over the killing of four Americans, including the US ambassador, in Benghazi last September says a great deal about the intellectual and moral vortex into which American politics has descended.
Obama has just released 100 e-mails containing ‘talking points’ with the administration in the aftermath of last year’s attacks, in order to refute Republican accusations of a cover-up. What does this ‘cover- up’ consist of? According to the Republicans, the administration presented last year’s attack as an ad hoc protest against the Islamophobic ‘Innocence of Muslims’ video, rather than the work of a terrorist organization, in order to deflect criticisms that might have affected Obama’s election chances.
There may well be some truth in these allegations, a) because the idea that some bunch of guys simply happen to show up outside the US embassy on the tenth anniversary of the September 11 attacks and open fire with an RPG simply because they feel angry about a video is not entirely credible, and b) the administration may well have been reluctant to accept that the attack on the Benghazi embassy was a pre-planned ‘terrorist’ attack.
But such reluctance is not the same thing as a ‘cover-up’ – and even if it was it pales into insignificance in comparison with some of the mountain of sleaze that Republican governments have built up over decades.
Nevertheless the Republicans are clearly determined to use Benghazi, just as they once used Monica Lewinsky’s dress and the Starr Inquiry, to compensate for the fact they have currently made themselves unelectable.
Leading Republicans, including House Speaker John Boehner and Karl Rove are using the Benghazi ‘cover-up’ not just to attack Obama and US Ambassador to the UN Susan Rice, but also to discredit Hilary Clinton, in what appears to be a pre-emptive move to disrupt her presidential chances, should she choose to run in the next election.
The result is a carnival of lies, stupidity and sheer bad faith. Take Dick Cheney, that shining beacon of truth and probity, accusing the administration of having ‘ ignored repeated warnings from the CIA about the threat. They ignored messages from their own people on the ground that they needed more security.’
Cheney even has the gall to suggest that Obama should have scrambled fighter jets or unleashed special forces in response to the Benghazi attack, just like the Bush administration, because, according to the former Veep ‘ In my past experience when we got into these situations — especially after 9/11 — we were always on the step, locked and loaded, ready to go on 9/11.’
The dishonesty of that statement is so gross that I’m not sure whether to laugh or cry, so I think I’ll just let out a strangled croak instead. Or better still, move on to Glenn Kessler at the Washington Post, shaking his semantic maracas, accusing Obama of playing down the significance of the Benghazi attack, by describing it as ‘ act of terror’ rather than an ‘act of terrorism’.
Whooo, come on and feel the nuance. Ok, maybe don’t bother, because this really won’t take you very far in any direction. And hey, isn’t that John Bolton, the mustachioed troglodyte who has hardly even seen an Arab country that he didn’t want to blast to smithereens, shuffling his tail out there at the back of the procession? It is indeed he, telling Newsmax – a webzine that makes Fox News look like The Guardian that
‘The failure of the administration eight months after the attack either to retaliate, to avenge the killing, to exact retribution, to make it clear to the terrorists you can’t do this and get away with it, is much more serious….It tells terrorists, you can attack Americans with impunity, and that’s very dangerous.’
Who would Bolton like to ‘retaliate’ against, given that the people who attacked the Benghazi embassy were in fact de facto allies of the United States and the EU during the overthrow of Gaddafi? The Great Avenger doesn’t say.
There is clearly not much point in bombing Libya – already done that. Or Mali - the French have got it covered. At least Israel is bombing Syria – something that will undoubtedly warm Bolton’s heart. And in Bolton-land, it’s almost certain that Iran had something to do with Benghazi, and even if it didn’t, it’s still probably worth unleashing some shock n’ awe just to keep the Persians in place.
Nowhere in this scandal-in-a-teacup, is there the slightest acknowledgement either by the Democrats or the Republicans that what took place in Benghazi is a direct consequence of a fraudulent ‘humanitarian’ intervention to ‘ prevent a massacre’ (in Benghazi) and overthrow a dictator that has effectively ripped to pieces yet another Arab society – while simultaneously opening new spaces for al-Qaeda-like Salafist formations to spring up like poisonous mushrooms.
There is a debate to be had there, which could also address the question of why the same process is being repeated in Syria. But these aren’t debates that either the Democrats or the Republicans are interested in having, because all the latter really want to do is ditch Obama and they don’t care what it takes.
And their efforts will always bear fruit in the land of McCain, Limbaugh and Beck. Thus a Public Polling Policy poll has found that 55 percent of ‘very conservative’ respondents and 41 percent of Republicans believe that Benghazi is the ‘biggest political scandal in American history’.
Which only proves that conservatives know nothing about American history, and that the Republican party has become a black hole in which truth, rationality and honesty simply vanish – never to be seen again.