Political Animal


May 12, 2013 12:57 PM Dishonest GOP engages in Benghazi fetishism (again) on Sunday talk shows, non-partisans lose (again)

By Samuel Knight

What’s particularly irritating about Republicans’ recent rage parade is not that the Obama administration is necessarily without fault in both the Benghazi affair and the recent revelations about IRS investigations of “tea party” and “patriot” groups. It’s that Republicans are comporting themselves as if a cursory knowledge of recent history and elementary Googling couldn’t prove that their sense of integrity is highly selective.

This, of course, is nothing new. But it’s worth discussing today because the crocodile tears flowed heavily during the Sunday Squawking this morning.

John McCain, for example, said on ABC’s This Week, that Benghazi requires even more probing after months of investigations, and suggested that Victoria Nuland’s potentially CYA memo edits were indicative of a conspiracy that implicates probable 2016 Presidential candidate Hillary Clinton.

“For the president’s spokesman to say there were only words or technical changes made in those emails is flat out untrue. I like Mr. Carney, but that’s just unacceptable for the president’s spokesman to say that to the American people.”
In calling for Clinton to testify again on the issue, McCain said: “She had to have been in the loop. …Her response before the Foreign Relations Committee when she said, ‘who cares how this happened?’ in a rather emotional way. I’d say, with all due respect, the American people care.”

Yet McCain didn’t deem Iraq War intelligence cover-ups to be something that the American people cared about. He denied they even happened, refusing to show much curiosity in investigating the issue by erroneously claiming (read: lying) in 2009 that “every intelligence agency in the world and every assessment” showed that Saddam Hussein had WMDs.

Nor did he seem to think that the Iran-Contra affair was “just unacceptable.” He styled himself as a defender of Reagan during Iran-Contra hearings in his 2000 presidential campaign, and according to a 2006 Current Biography profile, empathized with every Nicaraguan death squad’s favorite American, and every Reaganshevik’s favorite fall guy, Oliver North.

“Some of these people like Ollie North,” he explained to Michael Killian for the Chicago Tribune (July 29, 1987), “who saw their comrades and friends spill blood and die on the battlefields in a war that they believe the politicians wouldn’t let them win—I think that leads to a mind-set which could rationalize deviating from the established rules and regulations.”

Additionally evidencing the GOP’s questionable motivations behind the probe was Darrell Issa on “Meet the Press.” David Gregory prodded him on politicization, pointing out that Republicans have been fundraising off of Benghazi, and didn’t exhibit the same curiosity about security failures in the dozens of embassy attacks that have occurred in the past few decades. Issa denied accusations of partisan investigating, but conceded that the affair could have “gone on for weeks or months,” like the Tehran hostage crisis, and was rebuffed by fellow guest, Ambassador Thomas Pickering, when he accused the White House of preventing Pickering — one of the authors of the State Department’s investigation of the report — from testifying before his committee. Pickering implied that Issa hadn’t even read the report, and said that many of his grievances were addressed in the classified version of the document.

Shifting gears now the IRS investigations, another story that Alex Jones Rand Paul will surely cite as evidence of an Obama-led Globalist Takeover. House Intel Committee chair Mike Rogers was on Fox News Sunday, blasting the IRS’ inappropriate investigation of conservative groups.

“I don’t care if you’re a conservative or a liberal, a Democrat or a Republican - this should send a chill up your spine,” Rep. Mike Rogers (R-Mich.) said on “Fox News Sunday.” “This is not something we can let stand. We need to have a full investigation. I don’t know where this stops, who is involved. We need to have a fact-based investigation and it has to be external.. [sic] and I think Congress needs to have that oversight.”

Which is intriguing. Rogers’ defense of civil liberties this morning doesn’t exactly square with his record as the co-sponsor of CISPA, a bill that would have granted the government the right to conduct fishing expeditions online in an era when peaceful anti-war activists, transparency advocates, anarchist dissidents, and Muslims are routinely and inappropriately targeted for harassment by the Federal government (Oh and, by the way, his wife was, “until recently, the president and CEO of Aegis LLC a “security” defense contractor company, whom she helped to secure a $10 billion (with a b) contract with the State Department.”)

Republican Senate Leader Mitch McConnell also denounced the IRS investigations as “thuggish practices,” despite his own history of boosting creepy government. He called for Julian Assange “to be prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law and if it that becomes a problem, we need to change the law” — all for publishing classified information, which the New York Times and Washington Post do on the regular. And when Alberto Gonzales was forced to resign in 2007 after it was revealed he fired U.S. Attorneys that weren’t engaging in a witch hunt against Democratic candidates, McConnell decried “poisonous partisanship that we’ve sadly grown accustomed to over the past eight months.”

Why this matters is that Americans without a dog in this fight will lose. The Obama administration might be guilty of some misdeeds here — Pickering’s report, for example, didn’t address whether or not the State Department actively sought to make the situation in Libya appear more stable than it actually is. But the “facts” that will emerge are going to come from overzealous and vindictive partisan investigators with a long history of putting party over country. Republicans who fancy themselves as righteous muckrakers have little credibility beyond conservative activists, who seem to think that history started in 2009. Tea Party die-hards might have the memories of meth-addicted gold fish, but the majority of political observers don’t. Which is why it can be hard to take their hootin’ and hollerin’ seriously — even if investigations aren’t inappropriate.

Samuel Knight is a freelance journalist living in DC and a former intern at the Washington Monthly.


  • c u n d gulag on May 12, 2013 3:25 PM:

    Here's the problems the rest of us Americans have, with Conservatives/Republicans:
    -When they have NO real power, in both houses of Congress, they obfuscate, and create controversies, where none exist - see "Death Panels."
    And on the Senate side, they filibuster each and every single law, nominee, and issue.

    -When they have some power, like the House, in today's circumstances, they create an overload of utter bullsh*t, holding investigations into any and every thing that they don't like - which is pretty much anything to the left of "You know who," that Godwin's Law prevents me from mentioning - and strutting their utter bullsh*t on any TV station whose lighting and camera's work.
    And on the Senate side, they filibuster each and every single law, nominee, and issue.

    -And when they have real power, especially when they have the Presidency, and both houses of Congress, they go about destroying everything that might have been fixed since the last time they destroyed what had been fixed before, when they last had power, and went about destroying that might have been fixed since the last time...
    You get the idea.
    And, their sheer incompetence, creates what I used to call "Outrage Overload," when W was Preznit.

    And when they have power, they lord it over the Democrats, deny them spots on committee's and hearings, and go about like they were the Central Committee or the Politburo.

    They get us into senseless military actions, wars and occupations (Cambodia, Grenada, Afghanistan, and, especially, Iraq), they demand "Up Or Down Votes," which they never ever allow when they're NOT in power, and generally act like THEY, and only THEY, control the levers of power, and are allowed to do whatever they want, from passing Patriot Acts, putting rabid reactionaries on Federal benches, to spying on people, to allowing torture and rendition, to determining they knew better that a woman who had been brain-dead for years, could actually having her own afternoon talk show, and give Oprah a run for her money.

    They are dangerous enough when they're out of power, when they are in power, they are a nation-killing accident waiting to happen.

    The Republicans didn't use to be this way. At one time, they were stodgy, old, and supported privacy rights, businesses, low taxes, and generally acted as reasonable people.
    Today, they are out of control Manichean Christian lunatics, hell bent on taking us back to the Middle Ages, before the Magna Carta was signed, men ruled, and followed "The Right of Kings."

  • iyoumeweus on May 12, 2013 3:36 PM:

    Perhaps it is time for the executive to reopen the events that lead up to 9/11 and the invasions of Afghanistan and Iraq, the Weapons of Mass Destruction fiasco, torture (who though of it, ordered it, rationalized it and took part in it) and the financial meltdown which destroyed pensions, home buyers and owners but not those who were responsible. Just how and why did that happen and what role and profit did Bush, Cheney and Paulson secure for themselves.

  • jjm on May 12, 2013 3:42 PM:

    First of all the IRS "scandal": top level administrator at the time: a Bush appointee.

    C.R.E.W. requested extra scrutiny. Should the IRS turn this watchdog of our integrity down? Besides: if the group's name says, "Taxed Enough Already" isn't it inviting extra scrutiny? What exactly makes it a 'charitable' group?

    Finally, Benghazi is nothing but a media frenzy by a press made soooo hungry for 'scandal' by an administration that conducts its business too well for their tastes.

  • Joe Friday on May 12, 2013 4:01 PM:

    If it were my call, I would have not only subjected these RightWing extremist groups to extra scrutiny, I would have DENIED their application for tax-exempt status.

    The idea that their advocacy was not political is LAUGHABLE.

  • biggerbox on May 12, 2013 4:03 PM:

    I think McCain's permission to claim he understands what "the American people care" about expired right about when he nominated Sarah Palin to be Vice-President. As I recall, the nation gave John McCain a clear signal on whether he was lined up with our preferences, and that signal was "Hell NO."

    If he wants to be all cranky-old-man on Benghazi, the voters of Arizona and the lazy programmers of the Sunday yack-fests have given him a position to do so, but he should damn well leave "the American people" out of it. As one of those people, I resent it.

    As for the IRS thing, yeah it's bad, but it was a low-level employee, it wasn't policy. It's also not like right-wing groups have always been innocent and pure when it comes to tax scams, and creative interpretation of tax law. Singling them out may have been ideological targeting, or it might just have been looking where we know there have been crooks in the past. Can you say Jack Abramoff and Ralph Reed? Yeah.

  • joel hanes on May 12, 2013 4:17 PM:

    But further investigations are inappropriate.

    The only real story about Benghazi is that there is no real story about Behghazi. Never was. Never will be.

    It's exactly analagous to the demands for Obama's "long form" birth certificate.

  • James M on May 12, 2013 9:29 PM:

    @c u n d gulag on May 12, 2013 3:25 PM:

    "Here's the problems the rest of us Americans have, with Conservatives/Republicans:...
    -And when they have real power, especially when they have the Presidency, and both houses of Congress, they go about destroying everything that might have been fixed since the last time they destroyed what had been fixed before, when they last had power, and went about destroying that might have been fixed since the last time..."

    Exactly. The GOP has been so consistently incompetent nearly every time it has been in charge of the government that you wonder how Republican politicians can still be even a threat to win national elections. The theory that makes the most sense to me is Glenn Greenwalds'. He often argues that modern U.S. poltiics have become largely tribal in nature. The sad truth is that there are large swaths of the country that will vote for and support any GOP pols, no matter how ignorant or incompetent they may be.

  • mfw13 on May 12, 2013 10:06 PM:

    Please stop reporting what is said on the Sunday morning talk shows. Outside the Beltway, nobody under 60 watches them anyway.

    At this point, they only exist to provide fodder for other media forms. Start ignoring them, and they may finally go away.

  • T2 on May 12, 2013 10:25 PM:

    @James M - I'd amend Greenwald's statement.....US politics has become largely Racist in nature. Boil it down any way you want, and that's the final result.

  • j on May 13, 2013 8:14 AM:

    jjm says it best, I am sick of Benghazi, Issa and the GOP, and why do we have the biggest crook in the country holding hearings?
    One thing I did not know - that the state dept is responsible for the safety of a secret CIA outpost?????
    Also - about the IRS - if I were an employee and got a slew of applications for tax exempt status from people that say they are taxed enough already I would feel like it was my job to look closely at the documents!

  • Sgt. Gym Bunny on May 13, 2013 9:59 AM:

    Re Sunday BlatherFests

    I am so glad that someone at my gym is merciful enough to not turn on those damn flat screens on Sunday mornings. It's a small oversight that we lady folk in the locker rooms are abundantly thankful for, though we're still up against the gym policy to keep the tubes tuned to ESPN, NFL Network or CNN. I guess because we're women they think we'd prefer CNN. But we were lucky for a couple weeks when we got round-the-clock coverage of the Draft on NFL. Much bloviating about who'd go where and when, but, hell, it's just football--not political bloodsport...

  • golack on May 13, 2013 9:59 AM:

    And we know about the IRS issue how? Intrepid reporters???

    And Bhengazi?

    An administration makes mistakes, let's people know about them, troubleshoots them to make sure it does not happen again, and....SCANDAL!!!! Really?!?!?!?

  • Jim Keating on May 13, 2013 2:08 PM:

    What I have not heard regarding the supposed IRS scandal is that the IRS had a right to investigate these organizations; because they are notorious for using non-profits to further political agendas.

  • Jim Keating on May 13, 2013 2:10 PM:

    What I have not heard regarding the supposed IRS scandal is that the IRS had a right to investigate these organizations; because they are notorious for using non-profits to further political agendas.