Political Animal


May 07, 2013 10:07 AM Will Power

By Ed Kilgore

If I were a Republican politician, particularly one complicit in any way in support for George W. Bush or the War In Iraq, I’d probably be a little careful about suggesting that executive-branch errors or even cover-ups that led to the loss of American life are by definition impeachable offenses.

Yet here’s Mike Huckabee just yesterday:

Mike Huckabee on Monday predicted that President Barack Obama won’t finish out his second term in light of the “cover-up” of the deadly attack on the U.S. consulate in Benghazi and the former Arkansas governor called the affair “more serious than Watergate.”
“I believe that before it’s all over, this president will not fill out his full term. I know that puts me on a limb,” the former Arkansas governor said on “The Mike Huckabee Show.” “But this is not minor. It wasn’t minor when Richard Nixon lied to the American people and worked with those in his administration to cover-up what really happened in Watergate. But, I remind you — as bad as Watergate was, because it broke the trust between the president and the people, no one died. This is more serious because four Americans did in fact die.”

The Watergate comparisons that keep coming up in Republican efforts to convince a largely uninterested American public to join them in obsessing about Benghazi! Benghazi! are interesting in themselves; you can hear a hint of anger and vengefulness, all these years later, for Tricky Dick’s forced resignation over a “third-rate burglary.” Indeed, revenge for Watergate was probably a minor factor in all the GOP scandal-mongering of the Clinton and Obama administration.

But at this point, claims like Huckabee’s just seem delusional.

Perhaps something of interest will emerge from tomorrow’s hearings in the House of Benghazi! whistleblowers, but probably not. And so the bizarre pattern will continue of a “scandal” that’s of insanely disproportionate interest to one group of people in American politics, and only of interest at all to that one group of people (just Google “Benghazi” or “Benghazi whistleblowers” and see what I mean). I understand that the same case congressional Republicans have been making all along has to be re-presented to make Hillary Clinton the villain along with the President of the United States. But still, is there a point where Republicans finally realize they are only talking to themselves about this subject? Do they think they can make this issue “stick” by sheer, insane repetition, proving their iron willpower? Or am I missing the point: is the lack of broader interest in Benghazi! the actual proof of the vast conspiracy to hide the unfathomable crimes committed by those who wrote the talking points. Beats me.

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.


  • Peter C on May 07, 2013 10:19 AM:

    Huckabee is an attention whore - a fat ugly attention whore. He'll say ANYTHING to grab eyeballs.

  • Fritz Strand on May 07, 2013 10:25 AM:


  • davidp on May 07, 2013 10:26 AM:

    Huckabee's statement is quite revealing about GOP psychopathology and their fixation with the past. They are still looking for the anti-Watergate. The Iraq invasion was supposed to be the anti-Vietnam. The conservative movement as a whole sees itself as the anti-1960s. And they are hoping, by pursuing the Benghazi story, both to eliminate Bush's lies about Iraq and to undo Obama's succesful hunt for Bin Laden.

  • c u n d gulag on May 07, 2013 10:37 AM:

    At least to me, the reason they keep flogging Benghazi is simple.

    Because of the looming threat of Hillary Clinton, who, if she decides to run for President, according to current polls, will kick any of their potential candidates butt’s nine ways to Sunday, and back – even in white Appalachia – they’re pre-emptively trying to minimize her, by turning “Benghazi” into either “Whitewater,” or “Monica,” and hoping that it can stick for the next 3+ years.

    They want the public to focus on the fact that she was the SoS at the time, and not that the previous Republican House cut the security budgets for our embassies – because, if people remembered that it was Congress that cut the budget for security at our embassies, it would be even more embarassing for Republicans in the Congress.
    How anything could be MORE embarrassing for Republicans in Congress, I have no idea - but, I'm sure they're hard at work on it right now.

    Republicans politicize every single damn thing.

    And by continuing to keep the tragedy that happened in Benghazi in the forefront, they hope it will be a huge stain on Hillary's record – and never mind the deaths at embassies under Reagan, Bush I, and W, this, THIS, was some really serious sh*t, because... well... uhm... FreeDUMB & LiberTEA, shut up, THAT'S WHY!!!

    But, LOL, yesterday, even FOX's morning zoo review team wasn't buying what Congressman Chaffetz was offering.

    And if you can't sell Benghazi to the mopes, the dopes, and Doocy-doofuses on FOX 'n Sucks, then you ain't griftin' right.

  • BillFromPA on May 07, 2013 10:46 AM:

    First, revenge for Watergate wasn't a 'minor' point in the Clinton impeachment, it was THE point. Second, Benghazi is being flogged because it's all they have. Actually, the flogging of Benghazi demonstrates that the GOP has lost its mojo when it comes to faux scandal creation. They are talking to themselves, we know it's nothing, the indies probably view this as the incoherent ravings of lunatics, so rave on, wingnuts.

  • jpeckjr on May 07, 2013 10:50 AM:

    Whatever did or did not happen in Benghazi, it falls far short of Watergate. Watergate was about manipulating the way we elect a president, an attempt to undermine democracy to benefit only Richard Nixon. Watergate permanently embedded cynicism into our political life, an already cynical place due to Johnson's handling of Vietnam. Republicans in 1972 did permanent damage to our country by changing the standard from "defeat your opponent in an election" to "destroy your enemy in any way possible."

    Captcha: adversary rsisting -- "adversary resisting"

  • Mimikatz on May 07, 2013 11:06 AM:

    Remember many Republicans didn't really like Nixon UNTIL Watergate, when they saw how tough he could be.

    Today's GOPsters think Benghazi is going to be like Whitewater, which morphed from a failed land deal into something really sinister by constant flogging. But too many people remember the insanity it led to with the Clinton Impeachment, which was hated by the majority of Americans. So the GOP has lost its mojo to create fake scandals and it seems there are no real scandals with Obama, so they are left talking to themselves. They just can't grasp that Obama won in large part because of his image of quiet competence, which many people find reassuring in difficult times. Hysteria may go over great at an NRA convention, but to sane people it is really off-putting and scary. All this constant shrieking by right-wing crazies is really not winning them friends outside the geographical and metaphorical South.

  • golack on May 07, 2013 11:18 AM:

    Did you see CBS's Sunday morning talk show? Apparently the #2 man in Tripoli "knew" it was a terrorist attack from the beginning....Followed by a clip of Susan Rice a few days after the incident stating "we have no evidence..."

    The statements are not mutually exclusive. "Knowing" something and actually getting evidence to prove your position are two different things.

    The sad thing is CBS was giving air time to a person who's committee publicly revealed CIA assets in Libya. Revealing CIA assets and endangering our operatives and their sources for perceived political gain at home, a habit of the Republican party. Not to mention revealing response times for our rapid response forces.

    It's sad to see what's happening to Bob...

  • dricey on May 07, 2013 11:21 AM:

    "But still, is there a point where Republicans finally realize they are only talking to themselves about this subject?"

    Republicans live in a hermetically sealed bubble world that encompasses every aspect of human life: politics, economics, religion, culture, literature, history, science. It is in that purest of senses, totalitarian, because it encloses the totality of their lives. This means that they don't care to talk to anyone else, and have no concern whatsoever for what anyone else thinks. They cannot conceive that they might be wrong in the slightest degree, that their expectations can ever fail in the long run, or that they can lose any election except by conspiracy.

    To understand what we, and this country and this world, face, we must understand the Stygian depth and single-minded passion of their pathology.

    Like people, more countries die of denial than disease. Yes, they ARE this insane.

  • MuddyLee on May 07, 2013 11:21 AM:

    We should never forget Lindsey Graham's role in the Clinton impeachment fiasco - he was on television every day (he was in the House of Reps at the time) leading the attack on Bill Clinton. So when we hear him talking about Benghazi now, we should remember that he's used this tactic before to try to drive a president from office. And even though Clinton wasn't driven from office, the impeachment proceedings helped contribute to the "Clinton fatigue" that was talked about at the end of his presidency and this probably hurt Al Gore quite a bit in 2000. And ultimately with Bush - who interpreted his election as a "mandate" and a repudiation of Clinton, we get the Iraq invasion which the Weekly Standard had been calling for in the 1990s - because the "no fly" zone in Iraq under the Clinton administration demonstrated "American weakness". The neocons got their war in Iraq - will they get their war in Syria and Iran too?

  • smartalek on May 07, 2013 12:13 PM:

    "is there a point where Republicans finally realize they are only talking to themselves about this subject?"

    Does atrios' old meme,"Simple Answers to Simple Questions" still survive?
    Oh, and even if they did ever notice, it clearly wouldn't matter, as long as it still sets their base to salivating.

  • Anonymous on May 07, 2013 1:21 PM:

    davidp: This is definitely also in my opinion a big part of today's Tea Party Republicanism. I always think of hippies lolling around on the lawn after the Viet Nam protest or whatever while Young Republicans paraded around on campus wearing their little business suits when I was in college in the early 70's. At night the hippie types could hear enormous crowds roaring at the stadium while they (OK, we) went to the art department theater to watch a Bergman film.

    People like Alito (explicity in his Senate hearing if I remember correctly) and Cheney etc. have been trying to get back at the hippies and win (winning: very important to authoritarian types) for their side ever since. Even if it took multiple serial deferments from the draft to do it.

  • emjayay on May 07, 2013 1:24 PM:

    Anonymous above was me. Once again, odd that this site tortures you with Captcha (I always copy my comment first so I can paste it later if I lose it) and then lets you post when you forget to fill in the blocks above.

  • Anonymous on May 07, 2013 1:34 PM:

    I, for one, would love more investigations surrounding Benghazi. I have lingering questions such as, to what degree did republican efforts to cut embassy spending contribute to the tragedy, who really is Mark Basseley Youssef and who financed his little film project, Who coordinated with Youssef, and finally why did Romney launch into a hasty press conference attack on Obama before anyone had positive confirmation Americans had even been killed?

  • davidp on May 07, 2013 1:51 PM:

    emjayay at 1.21: all true, but c u n d gulag is also right that the Benghazi row is a pre-emptive strike on Hillary for 2016. So there's a forward-looking aspect too.

    re backward-looking: isn't it creepy how Cruz looks like Joe McCarthy?

  • emjayay on May 07, 2013 2:54 PM:

    Of course the hippies vs. Young Republicans and all the related stuff you mentioned above aspect isn't ever the whole story, just an important part that doesn't often get discussed. It's the historic basis of the whole "culture wars" thing.

    On the other hand, Hillary is a indeed a representative of the subculture feminist side of things they are still trying to beat. The Benghazi brouhaha is both back and forward looking. Maybe almost everything political is.

    The Cruz/McCarthy resemblance has been pointed out here or elsewhere. The resemblance is more than superficial. Much more.