Political Animal


January 30, 2013 11:15 AM Will the Foreign Policy Version of “Fast & Furious” Ever End?

By Ed Kilgore

When a significant group of politicians decide to make some event or issue the center of media attention, they can often do so to a considerable extent whether it makes sense or not. When an entire political party becomes committed to an event or issue as of transcendent importance, it instantly becomes so regardless of the merits of the case.

So it doesn’t seem that strange when Sen. Lindsay Graham (R-SC) threatens to place a second Cabinet-level nomination on hold until he gets the answers he wants from every imaginable Obama administration figure over what most conservatives just call “Benghazi,” the way you or I might reference “9/11” or “Stalingrad” or even “Calvary.”

Yes, Graham’s going to hold up Chuck Hagel’s confirmation until Leon Panetta testifies on “Benghazi.” Think Progress’ Hayes Brown has the story:

Appearing on Fox News last night, Graham made clear that he was unsatisfied with Secretary of State Hillary Clinton’s testimony last week, saying, “I haven’t forgotten about Benghazi. Hillary Clinton got away with murder, in my view.” Graham’s quest for the truth has now led him to current Secretary of Defense Leon Panetta.
Panetta, who has not testified before Congress about the role he played during the Sept. 11 attack on a U.S. diplomatic mission in the Libya city, is due to step down from his position at the Pentagon in the coming weeks. Graham now insists that Panetta would have to provide answers on what happened that night to the Armed Services Committee, on which Graham is a member.

I don’t where Graham thinks this will end, but for a good time now the Senate GOP’s obsession with “Benghazi” has resembled last year’s House GOP obsession with “Fast and Furious,” the botched gun-walking operation first hatched in the Bush administration. Both incidents involved admitted official screw-ups and the tragic loss of life. But for Republicans infected with this particular virus, both incidents also provide critically important glimpses into the nightmarish world view of liberals who want to use maximum government power to seize guns while abandoning Americans overseas to Jihadist terrorits who ought to be undergoing torture at Gitmo.

Since the various officials Graham wants to interrogate aren’t going to supply the admissions he seeks—you know, that they knowingly publicized a false explanation of the killings in Benghazi because they never want to blame anything on Muslims—it’s not clear when this down-the-rabbit-hole “scandal” will end. Maybe it will end when congressional Republicans run out of confirmation hostages.

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.


  • Mimikatz on January 30, 2013 11:24 AM:

    I thought the filibuster deal at least got rid of single-senator holds. Or was that just single-senator secret holds? So single-senator holds for publicity to aid in re-election efforts are still ok? Great.

  • c u n d gulag on January 30, 2013 11:33 AM:

    What else does closeted Limpseed Graham-crackers and his party have to sell, besides, fear, hatred, wedge issues, and one manufactured crisis after another, to keep their rube base riled-up?

    And that's why they resort to that sh*t.

    Where was all of their righteous fury, and calls for investigations, after 9/11?
    After the WMD's in Bush's Follies weren't found, and we were ears-deep in 2 needless wars and occupations?
    Or, after their constant deregulations almost brought the 21st Century economy of the world, back to the 19th?

    As I recall, Limpseed, you weren't at all full of righteous fury over those - probably 'cause you were ear-deep in all of those fiasco's.

    Limpseed, sit down, STFU, and let the adults try to fix what you ignorant and petulant children have ruined over the last 40+ years!!!

    Oh, and thanks again, Senator Reid!
    Fer nothin'!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  • Stetson Kennedy on January 30, 2013 11:36 AM:

    Leon Panetta? Who's next, Tim Geithner? Roy LaHood?? Hell, let's bring up everyone in the administration to see what they know about Benghazi!!!

    I think before any RepubliCON gets to ask about Benghazi, they should be forced to find it on a map. Most of them couldn't find Libya, no less an outpost lie Benghazi.

  • Perspecticus on January 30, 2013 12:03 PM:

    It will end when Panetta finally releases his notes from Whitewater and the secret Vincent Foster murder tapes showing the Clintons and a man (thought to be a young Obama) in a gorilla suit throwing Foster into a wood chipper and then killing a hobo who looked a bit like Foster to play the part of Foster's suicide-corpse.

  • Quaker in a Basement on January 30, 2013 12:04 PM:

    Sorry, Lindsay. You've painted yourself into the corner this time. Here's how it plays out: Panetta tells you to go pound sand; you have to put up or shut up on Hagel; if you don't block him, you're a weak-ass bluffer; if you block him, you're leaving our military without a top leader.

    Your move.

  • DRF on January 30, 2013 12:08 PM:

    This is all about Graham showing that he can be "tough" with the Administration, in order to try to fend off a primary attack from a Tea Party conservative in 2014. Truth is, I don't think that anybody in the general public cares about this issue.

    Either Graham has figured that his stance will help him in SC in primary season, or he, McCain and the rest just live in a bubble.

  • esaud on January 30, 2013 12:15 PM:

    The media could help: Instead of chasing Graham and McCain around with an open mic, reporters would ask some challenging questions, e.g. Why were they silent during the 7 embassy attacks doring the Bush administration?

    And news producers could ask themselves, what has Graham been right about in the last decade? Why does anyone care what they think?

    To paraphrase Atrios, unless those guys are making sports picks, there's no reason to listen to them. You could make lot's of money betting on the opponent.

  • John Sully on January 30, 2013 12:26 PM:

    I'll take "live in a bubble" for $200, Alex.

  • rea on January 30, 2013 12:48 PM:

    "got away with murder"? He thinks Hillary Clinton killed the ambassador?

    If someone on the left said something like that about someone on the right, the right would demand his or her head on a stick . ..

  • Josef K on January 30, 2013 12:52 PM:

    My first thought when I heard Graham's "Clinton got away with murder" schtick wasn't a flashback to Whitewater.

    My first thought was "Well by that standard, so did Reagan in Beruit, and George W on 9/11."

    Oh, how I wish some enterprising reporter would hit Graham with that one.

  • beejeez on January 30, 2013 12:54 PM:

    Panetta should just say:

    "OK, Sen. Graham, ya got me. I was brainwashed by al-Qaida and that's why I helped deliberately mislead everybody about what happened in Benghazi. I resign. So I guess you can go ahead and approve Hagel now."

  • jjm on January 30, 2013 1:18 PM:

    Graham is getting more and more illogical and frankly, ridiculous. Clinton 'got away with murder'???!! What a thing to say!

    Now he's saying that GOP budget cuts mean fewer cops so that in turn means that the private sector solution is for people to arm themselves. http://thinkprogress.org/justice/2013/01/30/1516431/lindsey-graham-gop-forced-budget-cuts-will-mean-fewer-cops-so-people-need-to-arm-themselves/#comment_link

    The quintessence of the deep ludicrousness of GOP thinking is right there, in a nutshell.

    What Obama has down, and Gov. Brown is seconding him strongly in California, is to turn the tide on thinking like this (government can't do anything; you're on your own) and refocusing it on working for the mass of people who are in the middle and lower classes for whom our institutions were originally built, and whose fundamental purpose has been hijacked by the rich.

  • Anonymous on January 30, 2013 1:19 PM:

    Don't over think this "Benghazi" thing, Ed. The GOP in general, and the hawks like huckleberry in particular, are deploying what they perceive as payback for the deserved hell they got over Abu Ghraib, Curve Ball, Tora Bora, WMDs, Valerie Plame, No bid contracts, Mission Accomplished......and the countless other foreign policy sagas that plagued the previous Administration. When people questioned the appropriateness of America abandoning her values so she could torture whoever she wanted whenever she wanted, people like Graham had their delicate fee fees hurt. Go to hell Graham, and take your traitorous buddies with you.

  • Doug on January 30, 2013 4:02 PM:

    Mimikatz, what was done away with was the "secret" part of the secret holds. A Senator can STILL put a hold on a nomination, but has to provide a reason and can't remain anonymous. Romving the secrecy and requiring a reason makes it just that much harder for Senatorial Republicans to block things WITHOUT getting the blame. It also makes it just that much harder for the MSM's so-called journalists to NOT report who's blocking legislation/nominations.
    Not that they won't try...

  • thebewilderness on January 30, 2013 4:14 PM:

    He is standing for election again, so he needs some publicity.
    If you look back over his career you will see the pattern of behavior. Every six years he channels Torquemada and takes his place in the Tribunal of the Holy Office of the Inquisition.
    He does it because it works.

  • Mitch on January 30, 2013 4:22 PM:

    By the gods, I wish that we had thrown the book at Dubya and his entire administration. I know, I know, I am beating a dead horse.

    After all, who ignored every damned warning prior to 9/11? Who lied their asses off to invade Iraq? Doesn't matter because it's okay if you're a Republican.

    Around ten thousand Americans dead, the global economy in tatters, America's reputation dragged through the trash. If Hillary "got away with murder" than everyone from Dubya's administration is a mass murderer.

    But Dems always choose to "look forward, not back" so the GOP never has to be responsible for it's actions. Meanwhile the GOP will crucify Dems every chance that they get. One of these days I'll figure out if the Dems are naive or just dumb.

  • oldswede on January 30, 2013 9:11 PM:

    Did Joe Lieberman's retirement cause Lindsie to completely slip his mooring? Maybe Joe kept Lindsie better grounded.