Political Animal


December 13, 2012 5:03 PM Chicken-Egg Question

By Ed Kilgore

The day before Susan Rice’s withdrawal from consideration to become Secretary of State, that great foreign policy thinker Rep. Steve King said this about “Benghazi” (formerly the name of a city in Libya, now the Greatest Scandal of Our Era):

I believe that it’s a lot bigger than Watergate, and if you link Watergate and Iran-Contra together and multiply it times maybe 10 or so, you’re going to get in the zone where Benghazi is.

This being a comparison, it’s entirely possible King thought Watergate was, as Richard Nixon called it, a “third-rate burglary,” and that Iran/Contra was about treacherous congressional Democrats seeking to rein in the Great Patriot Oliver North as he followed the Higher Law of His Conscience.

But assuming, as is safe, King wanted to convey the almost-inconceivable monstrousness of “Benghazi,” the question remains whether people like him went after Susan Rice in order to fan the flames over “Benghazi,” or created this funhouse mirror distortion of “Benghazi” to take down Rice. It is pretty clear the fundamental motive is to find a post-election “Obama scandal” that allows Republicans to mentally nullify the 2012 elections, but beyond that the sequencing of hysteria is murky. We’ll see soon if Rice’s withdrawal propitiates or feeds this particularly psychotic idol.

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.


  • boatboy_srq on December 13, 2012 5:24 PM:

    Watergate was a third-rate burglary. It was those Commie "journalists" and unPatriotic Democrats who made it a big stink.


    Seriously. High Crimes and Misdemeanors are business-as-usual for the GOTea, but a Democrat can't have a rounding error on a 1040 without being guilty of Plotting to Destroy The Republic.

    Timing? Synchronicity. There's a "scandal" in the offing, the dead have names, and HRC is stepping down as Sec'y of State and you have a shot at getting another of your own in the Senate - if the Prez nominates as HRC's replacement that pesky Gentleman from Mass that you all hate. What's a party of fascists to do but make a noise?

  • MuddyLee on December 13, 2012 5:24 PM:

    McCain and Graham should be ashamed of themselves on this one too - but in the modern republican party, there is no shame. We'd be just as well off with Meghan McCain and Franklin Graham in the Senate.

  • T2 on December 13, 2012 5:26 PM:

    the whole thing is curious, given the entire thing is built on B.S. But even more curious than the GOP's manufactured freak-out is the willing participation of the nations News Media. Not just FOX, but pretty much all of the MSM went along. Sure, there were a few reporters that bothered to say this was actually not a valid story (the Rice part of it), but for the most part, the Media just stood by and watched the hatchet job with their mouths shut.

  • joeff on December 13, 2012 5:29 PM:

    Put me down for "feeds." This will continue at least til Flimsy Graham has been TP'd out of the Senate in 2014.

  • T2 on December 13, 2012 5:30 PM:

    it just occurred to me - the GOP couldn't have anything against having a black Secretary of State, could they? Is it just that simple?

  • beejeez on December 13, 2012 5:39 PM:

    This is about the 10th time in the last few weeks I've read the expression "reign in" when "rein in" was intended. Could someone get on this, please?

    [Fixed. And thanks for pointing it out. My eyes didn't grasp the homophone offense and went right on by... --Mod]

  • biggerbox on December 13, 2012 5:54 PM:

    And here I thought Benghazi was a little development project down in Arkansas, near the Whitewater place!

    Silly me.

  • DRF on December 13, 2012 5:56 PM:

    This seems part of the GOP's desparate effort to find a scandal. I've been listening to the media chatter about this for a couple of months now with half an ear (which is how I think most Americans have been listening, at best), and I haven't heard anything that's really attention-grabbing about this. From the perspective of seeking scandals, there doesn't seem to be any there there; even if "scandalous", there's nothing that ordinary folks are going to understand or get aroused about.

    McCain's participation in this is different. He's just a bitter guy looking to get some kind of revenge on Obama. It also appears that Rice pissed him off at some point, and he's getting back at her. Finally, McCain was fighting to get back on the Foreign Relations committee, and he may have been using this to boost his chances.

  • c u n d gulag on December 13, 2012 6:15 PM:

    Douglas Feith, move over - there's a new 'Biggest fucking idiot, in town!!!

    Uhm, Representative Idiot, S. King, do you have anything to say about when President Reagan had 230+ Marines killed in Lebanan on his watch?
    Or, was that as much the fault of Jimmy Carter, and 9/11 was Clinton.

    Since you apparently don't have one, these enquiring minds want to know.

  • dalloway on December 13, 2012 6:34 PM:

    I predict that with the withdrawal of Rice, Benghazi will disappear down the memory hole, which is exactly what McCain and Co. intended. Coptic Christians who could be linked to the Romney campaign translated and uploaded the offensive video which set off the protests that enabled the terrorists to fake one to attack our embassy. On the 47% tape, made months before Benghazi, Romney said, curiously, that he was prepared to "take advantage" of any Obama "mistakes" in the Middle East. Sadly, I believe the Romney campaign intended to foment protests, although emphatically NOT for there to be American deaths -- and that they realized, when the deaths occured, that if they didn't win the election and bury their connection to the protests, they would look very, very bad. So McCain made sure the Obama administration would want to bury it, too. That's why McCain picked such a baffling fight.

  • Honeyboy Wilson on December 13, 2012 7:41 PM:

    I read the right-wing web sites so you don't have to. Believe me, Benghazi is going to turn into an impeachment vehicle for them if they get half a chance.

  • Oh my on December 13, 2012 9:42 PM:

    That's why McCain picked such a baffling fight.

    That, and the fact Republicans are the ones responsible for underfunding embassy security by some $300 million below what Obama asked for, if I recall correctly.

    As for the diversion strategy, you and I are on the same page. I was baffled from the very beginning as to why the media never investigated the motivations, players, and timing of the inflammatory video. Whether the video was a blatant ploy by a third party to influence the election or not, almost instantly the GOP started making a lot of smoke for lack of any flame. I suspect if one were to dig deep enough, one would find a "third-rate arson" attempt at manipulating a US election that ended up costing the lives of four Americans.

    In the end, the group responsible for the attack seemed to just take opportunistic advantage of the video protests, but how that is Obama's fault or why it is Obama's fault for not knowing instantaneously the attack went beyond mere protests getting out of hand is about as bizarre as blaming Obama for security we apparently can't afford. The whole thing has "Republican misadventure" written all over it, hence all the screeching like cats in heat.

  • emjayay on December 13, 2012 11:36 PM:

    Honeyboy Wilson: As I've probalby mentioned before, I read Yahoo comments on news items, because it's my homepage/email site and I'm a weak person who can't help indulging in any opportunity to lower my opinion of the human race. It's not even a site just reserved for the angry uninformed ignorant far right. But you're right. Also Rice is as unqualified as Obama, Janet Nepolitano was also completely unqualified, Obama is a liar and a dictator and our media is completely controlled by socialists.

  • Jose Hipants on December 14, 2012 12:15 AM:

    I think it is mostly intended to get John Kerry out of the senate, so Scott Brown can run for his seat. Rice and Benghazi are a means to that end.

  • redbike on December 14, 2012 10:27 AM:

    Republicans are looking for ways to position themselves vis a vis the President after voters rejected their brand last month. The Benghazi/Susan Rice dust up is a way for them to take some wind out of the President's sails and, IMO, they succeeded. They've forced the withdrawal of Ambassador Rice's candidacy and increased the likelihood of Scott Brown rejoining the Senate. The President and Democrats need to do something to take back the initiative.