The politicization of the investigation of the Benghazi attack by the Republican Party will cost them in the long run. It shows that they are still smarting from the loss in the election and it smells of a desperate move to prove that they are still relevant and in charge of Congress. They are not. While they have a majority position in the House, they are not in charge. If they were, they would be working to put together a jobs package that they could hand off to the incoming Congress. They would be focusing on the economy, and not on the confirmation of a replacement for Secretary of State Clinton.
They would have a comprehensive set of bills designed to replace the Affordable Care Act. They would be drafting a comprehensive immigration reform bill that would be ready to be introduced by the 113th Congress. But they don’t, they just have this dying wish to manufacture a scandal and cost the president some political gravitas.
Critics and opponents of Obama will justifiably ask where is he on these positions and they would have a point. But what I’m suggesting is that, once again, they are missing the big picture. They are allowing Obama to not have to answer these questions because they think they are winning the news cycle by pushing the mythical Benghazi scandal. They believe this was the smoking gun that should have won the election. They are wrong again. Just like how Hurricane Sandy knocked Romney from the news cycle, a big event, and the Israeli-Hamas conflict has knocked the Susan Rice Benghazi episode from the news cycle.
Republicans are so focused on the side issue of achieving a victory, no matter how insignificant and inconsequential, they are going to lose the opportunity to take a leadership position on the debate on economic recovery. It seems it would be much more prudent if they just stepped back and let the investigation play itself out and turned to the economy. But they won’t. They are poor short gain strategists and neo-cons/hawks like Senators Graham and McCain who are becoming more irrelevant by the day are looking at retirement and displacement within their own party.
The Republicans don’t seem to understand that they can’t win in the court of popular opinion. As they have pointed out time and time again, if they can’t find a real smoking gun, the liberal media is not going to run with their theory. Find a real story and the liberal press, or what they like to refer to as “the mainstream media” will run hard with the story. Consider how hard they ran with the story of White House leaks and “kill lists.” If it has “legs” as they say, the press will run it.
The Washington Post understands that the Republicans are out of step on the Benghazi investigation. They correctly reported, “though the Benghazi attack involved clear failures of U.S. security, Republicans have concentrated on a dubious subsidiary issue: the alleged failure of the administration to publicly recognize quickly enough that the incident was a terrorist attack.”
Doesn’t that say it all? It is clear to everyone that the communication was mishandled. The administration relied on talking points that clearly did not jive with on the ground reports and incoming intelligence. The administration probably stuck to the assertion that the Benghazi attack was the result of a spontaneous uprising provoked by the anti-Muslim video for far too long. It is equally likely that the need to maintain some secrecy for the sake of the investigation neatly dovetailed with the desire to minimize the impact of the event to the election. We know that. But the investigation on how the security broke down and what is being done to prevent it from happening again is the real story, not whether Ambassador Rice knew more than she said in those television interviews.
Now what will happen is that the Democrats will once again wipe the table with the Republicans attempt to play small ball. Admittedly, no one plays small ball better than Democrats, so why the Republicans continue to try to win at the Democrat game is beyond me.
Democrats are ready to light up the news cycle by telling the electorate that the attack on Rice has nothing to do with her qualifications. They are going to present it as an attack on black women. A dozen female members of the House, most of them black, have already started the cycle. In an ABC News report Marcia Fudge, the new chairperson of the Congressional Black Caucus said, “there is clear sexism and racism. They have never called a male unqualified, not bright, and not trustworthy.” Well, that is ridiculous. Of course they’ve used the same language about white men. The Washington Post said, “House Democrat James E. Clyburn (S.C.), the highest-ranking black lawmaker in Congress, has questioned whether Republicans are singling out Rice because she is black.” Clyburn is using the old race-baiting tactic of “race-whispering.” Clyburn said, “incompetent” is “racial-code” that “we in the South know. I take offense when people use those words. I have a problem with them.” MSNBC’s Chris Matthews thinks “apartment” is racial code and Clyburn thinks “incompetent” is racial code. An incompetent living in an apartment should contact an EEOC officer.
The Republicans' attack on Rice is not about race or gender. It is a typical political tactic by the opposition to have someone in the administration offered up as the face of accountability and responsibility. We expect someone to accept blame and we expect someone to resign. And not over some extra-marital affair (thanks General Petraeus but that won’t get it done). That is how it is done. Someone from the administration resigns. But if the Republicans don’t back off then the Democrats are going to rally the same coalition that just kicked the Republican’s butt.
The Washington Post reports, “97 House Republicans sent a letter to Obama challenging the potential nomination of Rice. 80 of the signatories are white males, and nearly half are from states of the former Confederacy”
Ta-Nehisi Coates, senior editor for The Atlantic weighed in: “Republicans are certainly not attacking Rice simply because she is a black woman. But it is certainly likely that they are attacking her because she is a black woman, allied with a black man.”
And if that isn’t enough to get Republicans to see the err of their ways then there is always the Bush card. The Pensito Review notes, “Republicans should be reminded that no one who served on the Bush national security team at the time of 9/11 was ever held accountable. National Security Advisor Condoleezza Rice was promoted to Secretary of State and CIA Director George Tenet was awarded a Presidential Medal of Freedom.”