Gates was harsh on Republican critiques of the President, ridiculing the idea that we could have flown planes overhead so “apparently the noise” should scare them. Not only would they be undeterred by noise, but Gates noted that given all the missing anti-aircraft weapons, it would have been a stupid decision.
Gates said that he would have made the same choices the President did, and defended former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton. There was no military alternative, he insisted; Republican critics that imagine some group could have been flown in on the fly have a “cartoonish” view of what military action is all about.
There is no scandal around Benghazi except for the fact that some Republicans are shamelessly trying to use an attack on America to fish for some kind of partisan jab at the President. Or perhaps they want to hurt Secretary Clinton’s chances to be elected in 2016.
We should come together to learn about what went wrong or right on a tragedy, but not turn it into a political partisan circus – something that the hearings last week obviously became. With wild hyperbole (Sen. Jim Inholfe R-OK, said it was worse than Watergate, Iran Contra and Clinton’s scandals) and claims of a cover up, they use noise and accusations to hide that they have nothing. It is a fishing expedition designed for partisan purposes, nothing more.
The only claim they really have is that maybe some talking points right after the attack didn’t call it terrorism when they knew it was terrorism. They claim it was to somehow protect Obama’s re-election campaign; but given how quickly he came out and labeled it terrorism and got the information out there, that’s a pretty lame argument. It’s also one that has no traction. In the early days after an event when so much is still uncertain, and when the Administration is weighing responses, there are limits to what you want to be public.
So they have that non-attack, absurd claims that the military could respond, smacked down by Secretary Gates who has served for both Obama and Bush, and who knows Obama’s character.
The bottom line is that many Republicans didn’t think Obama would be re-elected, they thought they’d have the Senate, and they don’t like how the media is focusing on how out of touch their message is right now. As pragmatic Republicans try to wrestle power away from the extremists, many want to construct a scandal where none exists. They hope to use that to weaken the President, take the public’s mind off both the pressing issues of the day and how dysfunctional a divided Congress has become.
It will backfire – it already has. The story is old and despite all the hype FOX and the GOP are trying to create, more columns are being written critical of the Republicans in Congress than the President. It has given the late night hosts plenty to mock. Jon Stewart skewered FOX for playing up the hype of yelling fire when there’s not even smoke!
But sadly, this circus is indicative of the political dysfunction that paralyzes the country as our problems mount. Rather than recognizing that the attack was a tragedy that should bring us together and learn how to better defend our embassies, politicians search for partisan gain (and Democrats are not blameless, some claiming that Republican cuts to embassy security allowed the attacks).
This is why we can’t reach compromises and deal with the difficult issues facing the country. It’s spectacle and posturing, rather than hard work and compromise. It is a sign that our democratic institutions are starting to buckle at the hands of ideologues who don’t understand that the founders designed a system to inspire compromise. They were divided t00 – the founders had a variety of different views, and they know that would always be true in a democracy. They compromised, and created a system that requires compromise to function.
Thank you, Secretary Gates for pointing out the absurdity of the charges being made. I hope within the GOP leaders look at the lack of evidence of even a whiff of scandal and recognize that this absurd circus is hurting them, and that real issues facing the country need serious attention.