Political Animal


November 28, 2012 4:40 PM Payback Politics

By Ed Kilgore

One of the odd things about the conservative hysteria over Benghazi and now over Susan Rice’s possible future is how many old axes are being ground. Rush Limbaugh compares the “cover-up” to Watergate and the Iraq WMD scam—two ignominious events for the Right. And now Susan Collins is excavating claims that Rice paid insufficient attention to threats to African embassies back in 1998. As Digby tartly observes:

[Collins] could probably find something a bit more recent than that if she wants to see a great example of government officials ignoring threat assessments. September 11th, 2001 comes to mind.
Just as they convinced themselves that Whitewater was their Watergate, they think Benghazi is their 9/11 commission. I assume they persist in this endless round of idiotic payback politics because it’s just in their nature.

And it’s also in their nature to find rocks to throw at the opposition instead of reflecting on the causes of their 2012 defeat. Gotta keep that base energized, right?

If congressional Republicans keep trying to take new hostages for their participation in fiscal talks—you know, the debt limit, Obamacare—at some point the administration might want to retaliate and say the GOP must call off its Benghazi witch hunt if it expects the president to sit down and negotiate with them. The frantic effort to find a “scandal,” not any actual scandal, is really becoming a major embarrassment to the credibility of the United States.

Ed Kilgore is a contributing writer to the Washington Monthly. He is managing editor for The Democratic Strategist and a senior fellow at the Progressive Policy Institute. Find him on Twitter: @ed_kilgore.


  • T2 on November 28, 2012 4:50 PM:

    I've always had profound distaste for Susan Collins. I believe her to be stupid and dumb - a poor combination in a legislator. But aside from that quibble, she is as two-faced as any GOPer in Congress, and that is saying something. Dragging up some totally unrelated issue that occurred last century and somehow tying it to Rice's Bengazi press conference is as crazy as John McCain equating the capture/killing of Osama bin Laden to the Bengazi attack. These people are crazy, and stupid, and you are correct, Ed, in calling them an embarrassment for the whole country. Consider my mind boggled.

  • AngryOldVet on November 28, 2012 4:53 PM:

    It has been pointed out on some progressive web sites that the coordinated attacks on Susan Rice are more likely an attempt to get Kerry appointed and open up a special election where Scott 'Centerfold' Brown can elected again in a low turnout special election.

  • Ronald on November 28, 2012 4:54 PM:

    is becoming an embarrassment? Try 'has already become' one, and it is only growing.
    Senators making wild-ass claims, Bohner going off the edge and saying 'no tax hikes for super-rich people', etc etc etc. It is just more of the same from the Right.

  • MuddyLee on November 28, 2012 4:55 PM:

    The republicans should be hammered for this Benghazi obsession (is it just to get Obama to nominate Kerry for Sec of State so they can run Scott Brown again?) and for their love affair with Grover Norquist. The more that guy is on TV and radio, the stupider his republican "disciples" look. Other than Karl Rove, who funds Grover?

  • c u n d gulag on November 28, 2012 5:08 PM:


    How long before the Republicans realize that comparing what happened in Benghazi to Watergate, Iran-Contra, 9/11, and Iraqi WMD's, is referring to THEIR OWN scandals.

    All you got with Carter, was bad info CIA leading to the "Hostage Crisis," and Clinton getting a BJ!

    It just GALLS them, that Obama has no scandals!!!
    'So, gee kid's - let's make up a scandal!!!!!!!!!!!!!'

  • Josef K on November 28, 2012 5:11 PM:

    One line I'd dearly love to hear in relation to Benghazi:

    "Yes, Senator, it was completely and criminally inexecusable for the Administration to ignore a clear warning as 'Bin Laden Determined to Strike in U.S.', as stated in the daily intelligence briefing the President himself received on August 6, 2001. There's no telling how many lives could have been saved if...oh, I'm sorry. I thought we were talking about genuine lapses in judgment here."

  • Doug on November 28, 2012 5:20 PM:

    Josef K, if only!!!

  • Doug on November 28, 2012 5:24 PM:

    Josef K, if only!!!

  • bluestatedon on November 28, 2012 5:34 PM:

    For fuck's sake, can Democrats ever learn how to deal with this stuff? SecDef Caspar Weinberger implored Ronald Reagan to not station our Marines in Beirut as they would be simply sitting ducks in a highly volatile region. Reagan refused to listen to Cap, and eventually the barracks were bombed in October of '83. Four months later Reagan withdrew the Marines. The Republicans don't give a shit that 241 American Marines were killed because Reagan failed to heed the warnings of his own Cabinet, but they sure are exercised about the deaths of four Americans during Obama's first term.

  • Leopold von Ranke on November 28, 2012 6:46 PM:

    Even though I am a Democrat, I have always voted for some Rs in local elections. Hell, I know most of the people running. But after this latest Susan Rice round, I shan't be doing that. I figure at this stage, if you're a Republican, you must be a damn jerk off, even if I know you, and even if it's just local.

  • Hue & Cry on November 28, 2012 7:10 PM:

    So Susan Collins joined the deceiver farce of Republican absurdity.
    The word farce comes from the Latin "TO STUFF", which entered the English around 1400.
    There is a decided culinary meaning as to the word, including "ALTOGETHER INDIGESTIBLE."
    A figurative extension...
    That is what she became joining this Republican fantasy.

  • CDW on November 28, 2012 7:33 PM:

    They have to keep filling that bubble with hot air or it will burst.

  • Mimikatz on November 28, 2012 7:54 PM:

    It is Kelly Ayotte that puzzles me. Susan Collins is not terribly bright and a retread, really. She has evidently agreed to be a cover for McCain's unseemly racist and sexist attack on Susan Rice. But Kelly Ayotte has her whole national career ahead of her. Why hitch her wagon to old-man-shaking-fist-at-the-clouds has-been McCain, who is so palpably bitter and can't get over the fact that Obama not only beat him, but was reelected? I realize there isn't a lot to choose from (Jim DeMint?), but at least she could ally herself with someone sane like Lisa Murkowski. She looks so silly standing there with McCain and his sidekick Huckleberry. Why?

  • PurePartyPolitics on November 28, 2012 8:11 PM:

    Representative Jason Chaffetz (R-Utah) acknowledged on Wednesday that House Republicans had consciously voted to reduce the funds allocated to the State Department for embassy security since winning the majority in 2010. Republicans, of course, have ignored that fact.

    As for Benghazi, one could ask McCain, Graham, and the rest of the crowd were as the candidate for U.N. Secretary General SÚrgio Vieira de Mello was killed in an al Qaeda bombing in Iraq. None of them apparently called for Condi Rice to be relentlessly interrogated --or fired--- nor were there daily demands for Bush and Cheney to address all facts of the event, nor were Republicans going on television every day insisting on responses to be fully accurate in the early days of the bombing.


    While we're at it--when Bush and Cheney's administration outed a CIA agent, we didn't hear calls for clarity out of Republicans--none, in fact.

  • boatboy_srq on November 28, 2012 8:14 PM:

    @mimikatz: Ayotte is Movement Conservatist. She rode in with the rest of the DeMint'ed bunch. Collins is Ayotte 1.0: dumber than Snowe, less crazy than the others of the day, but still JUST good enough to be elected by the Maine GOP (which only recently boarded the GOTea crazy train).

    I can't help thinking that a lot of the Benghazi kerfluffle is GOTea embarrassment that they spent eight years being among the totally unqualified (Brown), the contracpable (Bolton) and the possibly talented but inadequately prepared (Rice). And expecting that the Dems are no better judges of qualifications and character, they are convincing themselves through these hearings that eight years of Shrub was actually OK because no Dem is better.

    And then I remember how they dealt with very real reservations about their appointees, and their naked partisanship smacks me upside the head again.

  • Peter C on November 28, 2012 8:24 PM:

    Their problem is that they can't really articulate what the scandal about Benghazi actually IS. I don't think it is getting much traction as an issue. They just come off as cranks.

  • reidmc on November 28, 2012 10:12 PM:

    per above. . .other than Susan Rice, other Ds and progressives benefit from Repubs fixating on Benghazi instead of on issues folks are concerned about. 98% of Americans can't spell it, find it on a map, or find 2 minutes to care about it.

  • James M on November 28, 2012 10:22 PM:

    Agree with most of the comments above. If you are sleepy and want something to wake you up read some of the comments on Yahoo Benghazi article:


    Talk about putting 'false equivalence' to rest. I have occasionally seen comments by Left-leaning commenters that push the edge, but nothing like these! What always amazes me about the right-wing commenters that seem to dominate all open threads is their sheer rage. Imagine calling a sitting president a 'POS'!

    One of the comments that I found most intriguing essentially said that BO was aware of the attack (in progress) but cowardly refused to help. What is particularly striking overall is the emphasis on 4 Americans were killed. I'm guessing that Tea Party types are probably usually not big fans of ambassadors serving Democratic Administrations, but Ambassador Stevens and the 3 staffers who died with him have been elevated to Mt. Rushmore status by the Right.

    The unlawful death of anyone, anywhere is always a tragedy, but the concern over these 4 deaths and the total disregard for the untold lives lost in Iraq (as other have pointed out) seems glaringly incongruous.I really think that Peter C on November 28, 2012 8:24 PM has nailed it. The Right is sure that something unconscionable happened at Benghazi, but they just aren't sure what it is"!

  • David E. Ortman on November 29, 2012 3:01 AM:

    I don't get it. Why do Senator's McCain and Graham insist that President Obama should have stood up and given al Qaeda full credit within five seconds of the Benghazi bombing?

    Isn't there something to be said for denying terrorists the limelight?

    Instead, McCain and Graham now seem to want al Qaeda to receive full and instant attention and credit anytime something goes boom.

  • Hue & Cry on November 29, 2012 4:08 AM:

    McCain's jealousy of all things Obama has clearly moved to the psychotic realm---well beyond cognitive dissonance

  • Napoleon on November 29, 2012 5:05 AM:

    This isn't about Rice, it is about getting Obama to appoint Kerry to open up his seat. Kerry needs to announce (whether true or not) that he is not under consideration and will not be leaving the Senate. He does that you will never again hear of the "scandal" from people like Collins.

  • bob h on November 29, 2012 6:47 AM:

    55 votes for cloture on nominations might be suggested as part of filibuster reform.

  • esaud on November 29, 2012 8:31 AM:

    Kelly Ayotte is a blithering idiot.

    For those of you who aren't in the TV viewing area, both Ayotte and Collins have terrible speaking voices. Collins must have something wrong with her, to result in such a nasally, quivering tone. Ayotte has a really grating pitch.

    It's amazing that either got elected to public office. Just listening to them turns me off.