In the now-infamous “47 Percent” video secretly captured during a Mitt Romney fundraising speech, the GOP hopeful gleefully mentioned Jimmy Carter’s Iran Hostage Crisis moment and admitted, “By the way, if something of that nature presents itself, I will work to find a way to take advantage of the opportunity.”
On September 11, 2012, he got his “opportunity.” Our embassy in Benghazi, Libya was overtaken and four Americans, including Ambassador Christopher Stevens, were killed. Mitt condemned the President of the United States that same day, suggesting that Obama “sympathized with the attackers.” That’s right. The man who made the call to shoot Osama bin Laden in the head was suddenly a terrorist sympathizer because Romney wanted to be Reagan and needed a Carter.
Would cheerfully ginning up the events in Benghazi win Romney the White House? No, his accusations were offensive and demonstrably untrue.
But losing an election means nothing to Republicans. They’ve had nine congressional hearings about Benghazi. What have they uncovered? The fact that you can have nine congressional hearings and uncover nothing.
According to the Global Terrorism Database amassed by the University of Maryland’s National Consortium for the Study of Terrorism and Responses to Terrorism, there were 64 attacks on diplomatic targets during the Bush Administration. Still, former veep Dick Cheney said of Benghazi, “I think it’s one of the worst incidences, frankly, that I can recall in my career.” Having the memory of a goldfish must be very soothing.
Benghazi is a cynical attempt to gain traction with a nontroversy. The more Congress spends time investigating, the less time they have to spend being ineffective at negotiating with the President. In other words, doing their jobs. Under John Boehner’s leadership the 112th Congress passed just 219 bills that became laws. The least since we’ve been counting; half the amount of a normal Congress in a two-year term.
But what about all the other scandals!?
Since the president who touted torture as a foreign policy, lied us into two quagmires and outed an undercover CIA agent in retaliation for her husband’s New York Times op/ed, has been out of office for a couple of years, our bar for scandal is pretty low.
The IRS uproar is an example. In the wake of Citizens United, the only agency with the authority to oversee tax exemptions has every right to be skeptical of non-profit 501(c)(4)s. These groups, after all, are begging for a government handout under the guise of providing “social welfare.” Plus they’re allowed the anonymity of their donors. Some tea partiers want to see all welfare recipients take drug tests, you’d think a couple of extra questions on an application would be warranted. According to the Inspector General’s report, of the 300 groups who were flagged by the Cincinnati IRS office for greater scrutiny, only 100 were tea party groups. The other two-thirds—the vast majority of those flagged? Liberal groups. Other non-profits. Has the tea party fallen victim to the worst injustice since colonialism, slavery and the Inquisition combined? Most definitely.
Is this a scandal? Meh. Will this exist everlastingly in the mouth foam of those with Obama-as-Hitler placards? You bet!
The Department of Justice bypassing courts and seizing Associated Press phone records is this week’s only real scandal, the only breaking news story that deals with a violation of Constitutional rights. It’s a clear infringement of the free press. It also happens to be a violation that George W. Bush committed as a matter of policy. The right wing was fine with it when a Republican did it.
But now that it’s Obama’s DOJ it’s a bit less palatable.
The difficulty for the right-wing Indignation Industrial Complex is that they don’t like the press. They only like their press. But they also dislike Obama.
Getting the right wing up in arms over the DOJ intimidating a mainstream media outlet — or even more to the point — a cracking down on whistleblowers within the government — could be tricky. Because the enemy of your enemy isn’t as intriguing as innuendo and just making stuff up.
Or as a tea partier I was on television with this week put it, “We still haven’t seen the birth certificate yet!”