Finally, Republicans Have a -Gate To Occupy Them




An e-mail discussion about talking points the Obama administration used to describe the deadly attack on the U.S. compound in Benghazi, Libya, show the White House and State Department were more involved than they first said in the decision to remove an initial CIA assessment that a group with ties to al Qaeda was involved, according to CNN sources with knowledge of the e-mails…

The unclassified talking points have become a political flashpoint in a long-running battle between the administration and Republicans, who say that officials knew the attack last September 11 was a planned terror operation while they were telling the public it was an act of violence that grew out of a demonstration over a video produced in the United States that insulted Islam.

White House spokesman Jay Carney on Friday called the controversy a "distraction" from the facts and said the administration had raised the possibility of extremist involvement from the start.

He told reporters the administration was careful with information on Benghazi and was open with the public once facts were established.

After the attack on the American consulate in Benghazi, Libya last September, Republican presidential nominee Mitt Romney was roundly criticized for his crass politicization of the tragedy, and lashing out at the Obama administration for "sympathizing" with the attackers before the facts were known. That didn't stop Republicans from obsessing about the matter through most of the rest of the election season. As part of his post-election recap, political reporter Eli Stokols at FOX 31 wrote that "viewers and listeners so wrapped up inside [the FOX News/Rush Limbaugh] bubble with obsessive coverage of Benghazi didn’t realize how out of line they were with the rest of the country."

The underlying attack from conservatives is that the administration didn't want to publicly acknowledge the attack as an Al Qaeda operation for, you know, various reasons. Among other things, this reflects the way that foreign policy is used politically in American politics post-9/11: when useful, opportunists lead with speculation about "terrorism" with the goal of profiting from the fearful public reaction. Others do not see political benefit in fomenting public fear about terrorism.

This isn't actually new.

As CNN reported, the new twist in this story that has Republicans up in arms concerns talking points from the Obama administration, and their role in "editing the talking points" in the immediate aftermath to remove references to the possibility of Al Qaeda involvement in the attack. The administration responds, as you can read above, that they were trying to be careful in their choice of words before the facts were fully understood.

Looked at objectively, the attack on the consulate in Benghazi was a tragedy, and there are lessons for everyone involved–including decisions made by the ambassador who was killed. What the facts of the incident don't explain is the over-the-top reaction from the GOP and conservative media like FOX News, which has now attached the suffix "-gate" to the controversy. For that, we turn to the Washington Post's Chris Cillizza:

Amid the ongoing uncertainty swirling in Washington about who knew what when in regards to the Sept. 11, 2012 attack on Benghazi, Libya that left four Americans dead, one thing has become crystal clear: Benghazi isn’t going away as a political issue any time soon.

Why?  Because, wherever you come down on the policy debate surrounding the attack, the politics of demanding more information and answers about what happened are an absolute slam dunk for Republicans seeking to show their base a willingness to hold President Obama accountable… [Pols emphasis]

The simple fact is that Republican base voters not only dislike President Obama but have a deep distrust of how his Administration handles virtually all of its business. Not only is Benghazi a confluence of both of those realities but it also involved Clinton, who is widely regarded as the frontrunner to be the Democratic presidential nominee in 2016 if she decides to run.

If nothing else, a bunch of Republicans who were genuinely running short of political fodder have something to jawbone. The convergence of Al Qaeda, Democratic "softness on terror," and possible 2016 Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton, is too fertile ground for them not to exploit to the maximum extent possible. In the end, though, we doubt this will be any more politically useful than it was to Romney.

16 Community Comments, Facebook Comments

  1. ClubTwitty says:

    I was thinking watching Darrel 'car thief' Issa on MTP this morning, that he secretly loves Obama.  Loves him.  He would have no purpose no fame no MTP appearances if it were not for President Obama and Issa's sitting 'Birther +' Anti-Obama (morphing into anti-Hillary) Committee. 

  2. gertie97 says:

    I'ts an astro-scandal and will run out of juice. The general public does not care.

    What's more worrisome is the budding IRS mess. That one will be a problem.


  3. Gray in Mountains says:

    Best Republican out there. Defense Sec Bob Gates, says he'd have handled Benghazi just as it was. Says there is no way there was enough defense forces available to assist

  4. BlueCatBlueCat says:

    Also agree. The general public is simply not getting very excited about this, whether or not one thinks they should be.

  5. dwyer says:

    I still want to know  why HIcks was watching TV the night of 9/11 and MISSED two calls from Stevens.  When were the missed calls sent?  What was Stevens saying?

    What was Hicks watching? drinking?  The sloppy security begins with the second in command on snooze.  

    RE: IRS.  See, this is where someone needs to come forth and teach the America public that the IRS is responsible for giving non-profit, non-partisan groups tax breaks.  So, it makes sense to me, that double checking to make sure that the Tea Party was "non-paratisan" was due diligence.  I think that the majority of the American Public thinks the Tea Parties are all Republican.  I did.  But, now the IRS can vouch for the "non-partisan" nature of the Tea Parites because the IRS investigated it thoroughly.


  6. MADCO says:

    Well that's just great. Now Obama will never be re-elected.

    • Curmudgeon says:

      This is less about Obama and more about what's really making the GOP wet their pants now:

      Hillary 2016. 

      Luckily, this will be as effective as the rest of their "Oh, yeah, boy, we got 'em now" routines. It'll waste time that could have been spent actually doing something (Jobs? Remember all the jobs, jagoffs?) and continue to reveal how out of touch the GOP is with reality.


  7. dwyer says:

    What exactly is a Tea Party candidate?

  8. Craig says:

    Yawn.  Kind of a sleepy morning.  Oh, and no one is paying attention anyway.  As the inside-the-beltway crowd continues its long decline into irrelevancy, it just can't seem to get over the fact that no one really cares.  As Hillary herself says, what difference does it make now anyway who drafted what talking points and who changed what.  The outcome is the same.  Four are dead.  There's plenty of blame to go around and the American public couldn't care less.  Republicans, desparate to take attention away from their extremist, minority positions on almost every issue try the same tripe that hasn't worked in the last 10 years and isn't going to work this time.  This is just another example of trying to hide the ball from the American people.  And they know it.  Remember, there's that jobsy, economy sort of things that's going on in most of our lives, and frankly, this bs discussion on something that doesn't make any difference is just another example of the Republicans not wanting to deal with the real issues in this country.

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