Saturday, May 11, 2013

Benghazi Is Not A Scandal - But A GOP Attempt To Smear Hillary Clinton

The congressional Republicans are still trying to turn the tragedy in Benghazi into some kind of scandal. They even had some hearings this last week that they had hoped would produce some evidence of a cover-up of some kind, but it failed miserably to do so. Why won't they just let this issue go?

One would think they should drop the matter, because they are as much (if not more) to blame for it than anyone else. The Obama administration had asked for more money from Congress to enhance security at U.S. embassies and consulates -- and Secretary of State Clinton had even appeared before Congress to request the additional funding. What did the Republicans do? They actually reduced the funding for security by $330 million.

In addition, there were a lot more embassy and consulate attacks during the Bush administration (see graphic above) than there has been during the Obama administration. And no Republicans seem to have been outraged by those, and no hearings were held to find out why the Bush administration had allowed them to happen.

The truth is that this is a dangerous world, and despite the best efforts of either Republican or Democratic administrations, these kind of tragedies are going to happen sometimes. The Republicans know this, but they refuse to admit it because they want to embarrass the president -- and Hillary Clinton. In fact, trying to find something with which to embarrass Ms. Clinton is probably the real reason they won't let this issue die now. Here is how NBC News puts it:

Wednesday’s congressional hearing probing last year’s attack on the U.S. consulate in Benghazi revealed this political development: Key parts of the conservative movement are turning their attention from President Obama to former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton. “I find it stunning that four and a half months after the attack, Secretary Clinton still has the gall to say it wasn’t us,” Rep. Jason Chaffetz (R-UT) said at yesterday’s House Oversight and Government Reform Committee hearing. Added Rep. Jim Jordan (R-OH): “Tell me, who is Cheryl Mills?... She is the fixture for the secretary of state; she is as close as you can get to Secretary Clinton.” In addition, for the first time since Feb. 2008 (when Obama overtook Hillary in the Democratic presidential contest), Republican groups inundated our inboxes with emails about Clinton. The GOP oppo organization American Rising: “Benghazi Hearing Raises Serious Questions About Clinton.” The Karl Rove-backed American Crossroads: “Hicks told Clinton at 2am it was terrorism.” Here was Citizens United’s David Bossie (who was behind the “Hillary: The Movie”): “The Need For A Select Committee Is More Evident Than Ever.” And Drudge’s front page for most of yesterday looked like a time warp to when the Clintons were the constant focus of conservative attacks.

The Republican Party is scared to death of Hillary Clinton. They know that she is the most popular politician in this country right now -- and if she decides to run for the presidency in 2016, she will start her campaign far ahead of any opponent the Republicans could come up with. So they are starting early to try and smear her -- even if they have to invent something to do it with (and the Benghazi "scandal is nothing more than a GOP invention).

I can understand the Republican fears. Ms. Clinton would make a formidable candidate for the Democrats. But Benghazi is not going to help them. Clinton performed capably, actually brilliantly, during her term as Secretary of State -- and handled the Benghazi tragedy as well as possible (especially in light of the GOP budget cuts for security).

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