Politics

05.07.14

The B Is Back: The Benghazi Hearings Are Bullsh*t

Instead of demanding a bipartisan Benghazi committee, the Democrats must boycott this farce, whose sole aim is to humiliate Obama and Clinton.

So House Republicans are zeroing in on the particulars of how the Select Committee to Mention the Words Clinton and Benghazi in the Same Sentence for as Long as Possible (I think that’s the official name) is going to work. On Tuesday morning, Nancy Pelosi issued a statement on the question: The panel has to be 50-50 bipartisan, she insisted, and all information must be shared on a bipartisan basis. Then, she seemed to imply, maybe the Democrats would play ball.

News broke Tuesday night that the Republicans were rejecting that and insisting on seven Republicans and five Democrats. Whatever. I don’t care if the Republicans had accepted Pelosi’s conditions and then agreed to bake cookies with the likeness of Franklin Roosevelt on top. There is no way on earth the Democrats should lend this committee the least bit of legitimacy. They absolutely must boycott this absurd, insane, sickening, repulsive, shameful, and at the same time shame-less circus.

Benghazi is and has been for some time a witch hunt that perverts all notions of democratic accountability and that obviously carries one purpose and one purpose only—the humiliation or worse of as many Democrats as possible, preferably the big cheeses (Barack Obama, Hillary Clinton). Ever since Watergate, the Republicans have wanted one of their own, one in which they’re the good guys, forcing a Democratic president to resign in disgrace. They tried it with Bill Clinton, but he just kept getting more and more popular as more and more Americans came to see the Republicans’ coup d’etat, their attempt to criminalize errant but perfectly legal behavior, for what it was—an affair.

Now the attempt is somehow to criminalize bureaucratic error. In a dangerous place, a too-trusting ambassador made a misjudgment. Protests spread quickly from one city to another. Mistakes were undoubtedly made in the heat of the moment. That’s what you call a tragedy. A normal society tries to learn the lessons and move forward without repeating them. But we don’t live in a normal society. We live in a society with a political party that will twist the institutions of democracy like a pretzel until it takes on the desired shape and achieves the desired outcome.

Benghazi has been probed many times. Two Senate reports and eight House reports, along with a State Department review led by Thomas Pickering and Mike Mullen. Now, I don’t know their party registrations, but Mullen is a retired Navy admiral who was named the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff by President George W. Bush, and Pickering has served seven ambassadorial posts, his first two under President Reagan (and his first in a hotspot, El Salvador, where a real loyalist is typically placed). If you really think Benghazi is all a big liberal conspiracy, I suggest that you ask yourself seriously whether two such men would willingly play a part in it. It’s preposterous. Yet they said in their report, and told Darrell Issa’s committee, that the military did all it could but just couldn’t get there in time.

Republicans see space aliens and Iranians and North Koreans everywhere. All they need is one email that re-raises an old question, and it’s off to nutland.

Ah, but what about the Susan Rice angle? Oh, please, what about it? She said what the CIA told her to say. So not only are Pickering and Mullen part of this vast web of conspiracy to bring down America and advance the Manchurian president’s perfidious goals, but the CIA is, too. Right.

You know, if you wake up in the morning and look outside and see vast puddles of water around, it’s possible that space aliens, working with the Iranians and the North Koreans, flew over your house at 3 in the morning and dumped massive buckets of water out around your yard and street. It’s also possible that it rained overnight. Here, it rained. But Republicans see space aliens and Iranians and North Koreans everywhere. All they need is one email that re-raises an old question—not that raises a new question, mind you; merely that re-raises an old one, as Ben Rhodes’s email did—and it’s off to nutland.

All that is plenty enough reason for the Democrats to take a pass, but there’s even more. Actually, there are two more things. First is the way Issa’s committee has behaved so far in its Benghazi proceedings. Issa and his staff have regularly concealed witnesses from the Democratic side until the final hours, even shielding one witness from Democratic staff entirely. They have withheld documents from their Democratic counterparts and generally kept them in the dark about what they were springing next.

Yes, but this would be a different committee, you say. Well, it would. But on what basis are we supposed to believe that Trey Gowdy, the two-termer from South Carolina, would be any more responsible than Issa has been? Gowdy, astonishingly, has been getting some decent press in the last two days because he is “a former prosecutor,” three words that bestow a kind of instant gravitas. He also probably benefits from looking a little like Owen Wilson, whom everybody likes.

Well, look past the face. Gowdy’s antics on Issa’s committee are legendary among Democratic Hill staffers. He’s as big a blowhard as sits on that committee. Read Simon Malloy’s Salon piece from Tuesday, which just destroys Gowdy and also ought to worry any sane American. He developed the habit during these recent hearings of posting his cross-examinations on YouTube. During an IRS “scandal” hearing in which he rebuked Lois Lerner, he even added some heroic background music. He also suggested to Greta Van Susteren that the Obama administration was withholding evidence from Congress, and when she asked him if we’d see it, said: “Yeah. Well, you know, I can’t prove to what I don’t know. I don’t know whether the documents have been destroyed.”

And that is this sleazy rabbit hole in its most perfect summation. Make an allegation. Suggest that the proof of it exists, or existed, but it was destroyed by the Obamabots. With no evidence whatsoever. But people will believe it, and the media will report it. Everyone plays along. Democrats, you don’t have to, and in this case it’s very nearly a patriotic duty not to.