There are two issues with Benghazi that people should care about: that the administration’s response was so blatantly and thoroughly political, and that the press/media bought into it as broadly as they did, up to and including Candy Crowley’s insertion of the administration’s false spin into the presidential debate. (Just another on the list of things that Mitt Romney was right about.)
As an example of a common refrain heard after the Benghazi Hearings ended, Scott Winship, Walter B. Wriston fellow at the Manhattan Institute tweeted “Is the Benghazi complaint, finally, just that an Administration acted politically?” To which Charles Lane, Washington Post opinion writer, answered “Took the words right out of my mouth.”
There is “acting politically,” and there is elevating politics over governance in such a thorough manner as to be detrimental to the long-term health of our political and governmental systems. If you believe that our national government is “broken” (see Donald Trump poll numbers), then you must see that the administration’s response to the Benghazi attacks contributed to that.
In the minutes after hearing about the attack, and for the remaining hours of the attack itself, the Secretary of State and others in the administration went completely into spin mode, as opposed to governing mode. We now see that the Secretary told people immediately that this was an attack affiliated with al Qaeda, while working to develop a different story for the public. This is to be expected given that the single strongest skill in the Obama administration is campaigning, and the Clinton tenure at State was a holding pattern for a presidential run. But it is an example of “what’s wrong in Washington,” and why we need leaders who see governing at least as important as continuous political warfare.
The extent and thoroughness of the attempted deception is striking. Never mind the Susan-Rice-on-five-shows routine. Weeks later the President repeated the false cover story at the United Nations. Am I the only one who thinks their response to this is Exhibit A in the complete subordination of governance to politics? Is such blatant willingness to deceive OK for mere ideological reasons?
The chatterbots will dissect who won and lost, CNN and others are gleefully promoting Mrs. Clinton’s “performance” before any of the committee members have even awakened the day after, but the rest of us are left with the same cynicism that just gets worse every day.
People who complain about the number of investigations, time, and cost, just to “get” Hillary Clinton should consider what type of response in the minutes and days after the attack would have prevented all of this. A simple, “Our embassy was attacked by al Qaeda, an ambassador died, we grieve and will track down the killers,” would leave all of us today asking “Benghazi who?”
Republican presidential candidates ought to talk more about good governance as a way to counter Mr. Trump. People are angry about many things, mostly economic, but the elevation of politics over good government in the Obama years is part of the general cynicism.