The GOP’s Benghazi Obsession

James Gibney tires of the endless investigations:

So far, Republicans have yet to unearth a grand political conspiracy or cover-up by the Obama administration involving Benghazi. This week, they’ll interrogate Central Intelligence Agency security officers who were on site. That will shine more light on some decisions that, absent the fog of war, might have been made differently. Yet if something truly damaging was likely to surface, it surely would have done so by now. Put another way, could the architects of the current health-care debacle really engineer a cover-up capable of withstanding the frantic digging of five congressional committees?

What Congress could do, if it really cared about preventing future attacks:

Congress should be making sure the State Department actually implements the review board’s recommendations, which cover knotty areas from language training and building security to threat analysis. Past experience suggests compliance will be spotty at best.

But that is not, I suspect, what it’s about. This story thrives on the far right – i.e. most of the right – because it advances a couple of memes. The first is that Obama failed as commander-in-chief because an al Qaeda group in North Africa used the anniversary of 9/11 to attack a diplomatic compound disguising a CIA base. So he tried to cover it up, by claiming it was a response to an incendiary video. But the trouble with this argument, it seems to me, is that it cannot connect to a broader theme about the president. He has done far more damage to al Qaeda than his predecessor, decimated their ranks in the region whence 9/11 came, ramped up surveillance, and killed Osama bin Laden. So the political logic of the Benghazi obsession is weirdly off-track. But it’s what they always intended to say about the first black president whose middle name is Hussein from the get-go: that he’s soft on terrorism, so they stick with it, even though it’s patently untrue.

The real force behind the powerful meme, I’d wager, is the usual (usual!) argument that the president is a covert traitor and ally to al Qaeda.

So he deliberately left American diplomats to be gunned down by Jihadists in Benghazi, barely lifted a finger to help them, lied about it to cover his tracks, and generally cares more about foreign people with dark skin than those on sovereign American soil. They need to prove this horrifying truth because it would blow up this presidency and render it totally illegitimate. And they still dream of erasing the first black president from the history books as an asterisk. The whole thing is eerily similar to the way the far right in the 1950s believed Eisenhower was a Communist sympathizer and ally. (That meme now extends to FDR as well in the fever swamps!)

I have no problems with endless hearings if that’s what the GOP wants. But we should have few illusions about the paranoid fantasies that fuel this foul stuff. I’d be offended and enraged by their disgusting insinuations of treason – “and where was the president that night?” etc – but seriously, after six years of this stuff, my rage buttons are worn down.