Thursday 15 November 2012

Benghazi, Rice and McCain

In the spirit of the autumnal season, let’s talk turkey about Benghazi, Susan Rice and her puny tassel-loafered tormentors on the Hill. Let’s begin with a brilliant quote.

"A great American success story. This is what America is all about. A young woman who grew up in a segregated part of America where Americans were not treated equally, to rise to the position of secretary of state. We should have been celebrating, I believe, this remarkable American success story. Also, I thought that some of the remarks, and I’m not going to mention my colleagues’ names, some of the remarks aimed at her during the hearings challenged her integrity. We can disagree on policy and we disagree on a lot of things, but I think it is very clear that Rice is a person of integrity. And yes, I see this, some lingering bitterness over a very tough campaign. I hope it dissipates soon. I can only conclude we’re doing this for no other reason than because of lingering bitterness at the outcome of the elections."

John McCain, defending Rice’s State nomination, January 2005. Condoleezza Rice, that is. And defending her infamous, inaccurate statements about Iraqi nukes, aluminum tubes, and mushroom clouds.

Another quote.

"Every intelligence agency in the world was misled. And to connect those two to say that she’s a liar is very unfair, over the line."

That’s Lindsey Graham, defending Condy Rice eight years ago.

Incidentally, if the Republicans want to use performances on Meet The Press as the metric to measure fitness for office, let’s remember that John McCain goes on the show almost every week, and during the Iraq war he was regularly parroting Bush administration talking points that were outright lies. No one bellowed more loudly than McCain when Republicans were singing from the "Mushroom Cloud Yellow Cake Torture Is Good" sheet music. It would be very, very easy to put together a "McCain Says Stupid Stuff to David Gregory" blooper reel. So if getting the facts wrong on Meet The Press is a hanging offense, McCain should have been sent back to Arizona in disgrace years ago.


Second, guys like McCain and Graham are whining that Rice shouldn’t be confirmed because she failed to rein in the obstructive excesses of the Russians and the Chinese at the UN. There are so many things wrong with this that I hardly know where to start. But here goes.

The Bush team categorically failed to counteract the obstructions of Russia and China at the UN during the run-up to the Iraq invasion. John Negroponte, Bush’s representative at the UN, completely failed to overcome that obstacle. Did McCain and the other Republicans condemn him and ruin his career? Amazingly, no. They rewarded him by making him our ambassador to Iraq, and then Director of National Intelligence.

The reason no one busted Negroponte for that, is that the Russians have always been obstructive at the UN. They’ve been doing it since the UN was formed. The only reason the UN took action in Korea in 1950 is because Russia’s UN representative had walked out in a huff, so he wasn’t there to veto the UN police action in Korea.

Also, McCain and Graham are part of the most obstructive Senate party caucus in the history of the Republic. They have launched or threatened filibusters more than any group in U.S. history. To include, of course, their threatened obstruction of any nomination for Susan Rice. If there is anybody out there who should just shut the hell up about deliberate obstruction for political purposes, it’s these two clowns, and the rest of Mitch McConnell’s "Doctor No" chorus.


Third, as for the actual issue driving all this, the Benghazi attack, here are the facts which the Republicans don’t want you to know.

Terrorists around the world have made it patently clear that killing Americans is among their chief goals. America has about three hundred embassies and consulates around the world. Every one of them is a terrorist target. Then add all of the diplomatic personnel around the world, most of whom live outside the embassy; then add all our military personnel around the world, and our tourists, and our businessmen. Giving all these people perfect round-the-clock protection is a logical impossibility. Eventually, the terrorists are going to get a win. Eventually, they will kill. When you hear little Lindsey Graham leaping out of his little satin socks, screeching that he holds Obama "ultimately responsible" for the deaths of our personnel, ask him whether his puny little brain is willing to assign any of that responsibility to, you know, the terrorists who actually killed them. Or to the Republicans in Congress who cut funding for embassy security.

Contrary to all the conspiracy theorists who insist that Obama and Clinton prevented help from getting to Benghazi, Obama had the CIA response going within twenty four minutes, which is positively miraculous, and the first military unit responded shortly thereafter. There were limits to what they could accomplish because some military units were too far away, and other units, particularly the ones involving air support, could do little because of the constricted urban environment and the risk of heavy civilian casualties and other collateral damage. Again, sometimes the bad guys win, no matter how you prepare. Or don’t prepare (see Bush and his refusal to listen to terror warnings before 9/11).

The people screeching for Obama to be impeached because four Americans died on his watch, are the same people who cheered like madmen for Bush who lost three thousand on 9/11 and four thousand in Iraq, all killed by terrorists. It never ceases to amaze me: when Americans die on the Republicans’ watch, it’s really the Democrats’ fault for not supporting the President and the troops enough. When people die on the Democrats’ watch, the Democrats did it wrong, no matter what actually happened. You can always count on the Republicans to exploit the tragic deaths of innocent Americans for cheap political purposes.


Fourth, our old friend McCain. We could do a whole aria on Lindsey Graham, the poor lad who was dogged by homosexual rumors and tried to prove his manliness by getting into a macho impeachment contest with Big Bill the Sex Machine. But this new fight is really all about McCain.

Just to make clear how totally un-serious McCain is about all this. McCain has been demanding meetings to gather information about this terrible Benghazi scandal. So they set up the meeting. Did McCain go? No. He blew off the meeting so that he and Graham could hold yet another press event and screech about filibustering against Susan Rice, who hasn’t even been nominated yet. As the Red Queen would have said, outrage first, facts afterwards! A reporter asked McCain about the meeting he skipped, and McCain flipped out.

Other Republicans are starting to roll their eyes at McCain’s antics. A Republican Senator privately criticized McCain for all this hotdogging, and McCain’s office was forced to blame his absence from the information meeting on a scheduling mistake. When McCain demanded a special committee to investigate Benghazi, a committee which presumably would allow him to fulminate about Democratic treason on national TV, even Susan Collins, a fellow Republican, muttered publicly that the Senate already has two different committees which could do the job just fine.

Poor Johnny. Like Nixon before him, McCain has an almost Shakespearean capacity for self-destruction, getting involved in five disastrous aviation accidents despite only flying twenty-three combat missions, the instability, the temper, the suicide attempts, the infidelity, the constant embarrassing quest for love and attention, the dirty campaigns and contributions, the disgusting insults aimed at Chelsea Clinton and Janet Reno, and the repellent effort to loyally clean up Bush’s messes after Bush insulted his family. And of course the psychotic episode in which he chose Sarah Palin to sit one heartbeat away from the Commander-in-Chief’s chair despite being an elderly man with serious cancer problems, the erratic behavior during the 2008 financial crisis, and then losing to that colored whippersnapper in 2008 despite being in the lead in mid-September.

Now, after galloping across the national landscape for decades, like a mad jackass with a bee up its ass, McCain’s reign of tragicomedy is almost over. If he runs for the Senate again in 2016, he will be 80 years old, making less sense than ever, if the Latino vote doesn’t turn him out of office. And he knows he’s the sad-faced circus clown who tried to stay in the center ring just a bit too long. A great statesman in his own mind, he is running out of chances to persuade America to take him seriously. His jihad against Susan Rice, who didn’t even have any connection to the disaster in Benghazi, puts one in mind of William Jennings Bryan, who fell short in three presidential races, and by the end of his life was reduced to persecuting a skinny little schoolteacher for teaching evolution in a high school, a would-be dragon-killer reduced to fighting smaller and smaller dragons.


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