Friday 25 October 2013

Benghazi, and Hillary as Commander in Chief

If Hillary Clinton runs for president, you will hear the word “BENGHAZI” about five billion times between then and election day. The conservatives know that’s all they have, to stop her: not only does she beat every Republican in head-to-head polls, she leads Rick Perry right in Texas, and Rubio and Bush in Florida. Ouch!

During Bill Clinton’s tenure in the White House, no less than five investigations of Hillary were undertaken by Republican investigators. Travelgate, Filegate, Whitewater, the works. And the Republicans came up empty. Hillary is the most vetted candidate on the planet.

But they haven’t given up on Benghazi. They have, however, given up on tell the truth about Benghazi. So…

FIRST, the debunking.

“Hillary knew about the requests for more security in Benghazi, but she chose to do nothing, she went AWOL! Hillary and Obama let them die! They told our troops to stand down!” Um, no. 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 the U.S. response could accomplish because some units were too far away.

“They should have brought in air support!” Um, no. Not in a constricted urban environment with the risk of heavy civilian casualties and other collateral damage.

“Hillary has blood on her hands!” Um, no. That would be the terrorists who did the actual killing.

“We still don’t have all the details, we need more investigations!” Um, no. No less than eight committees in the House and Senate have already probed this, and found no wrongdoing by Hillary or Obama. Perhaps that’s why the wingnuts want more investigations – the truth which emerged in the first eight investigations didn’t fit their hang-em-high narrative. Even some Republicans are sick of Darrell Issa’s incessant efforts to keep this “scandal” alive. Arch-conservative Bob Corker from Tennessee finally groaned "I feel like I know what happened in Benghazi. I'm fairly satisfied."

“Hillary covered it all up, she punished witnesses and prevented them from talking!” Um, no. She not only called for an independent review board, she put members of Republican administrations on it. The board cleared Hillary of wrongdoing, just like the eight congressional investigations did, but she still took full responsibility, carried out all the board’s recommendations, and punished a few State people who did drop the ball. And there was no witness-tampering, either.

“Hillary fiddled with the talking points!” Um, no. The talking points were edited by a State diplomat who was a Cheney protégée and Bush appointee, and then approved by the intelligence community, the aim being to conceal the identities of the perpetrators in order to protect the ongoing investigation.

“Hillary was just putting on an act when she testified before the House committee!” What the…? You want to see actors chewing the scenery on Capitol Hill, feel free to enjoy the ouvres of colossal hams like Ted Cruz and Rand Paul.

“They refused to call the attack terrorism!” Um, no. This is a lie so egregious that a report from CNN -- always reluctant to debunk conservative nonsense – was forced to shoot down Mitt Romney during an actual presidential debate.

“This never would have happened if a Republican was running the store!” Um, no. There were a dozen attacks just like this one during the Bush era, not even counting the attacks in Baghdad, and I didn’t hear Peep One from the Republicans. Also, Bush lost 3000 on 911, in part because he refused to listen to the intelligence warnings before 911, and 4000 to terror attacks in Iraq. And the Republicans cut funding for embassy security, which contributed directly to the debacle in Benghazi.

And keep in mind that 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.

One thing that is going to perpetuate this nonsense even further, is the fact that the leader of this anti-Hillary jihad, Darrell Issa, could have a real fight on his hands, keeping his House seat in November 2014. The shutdown nonsense put a lot of GOP House seats in jeopardy, including his. So expect more “BENGHAZI” from him, all next year.

SECOND, the one element in all this which hasn’t gotten enough attention is when Rand Paul bellowed that Hillary is unfit to be Commander in Chief. Let’s just take a look at that. Let’s look at the top contenders for the 2016 presidential race, and see who best measures up as Commander in Chief.

Chris Christie, Scott Walker and Jeb Bush come from the ranks of governors. Their experience in foreign policy and national security? Zero.

Paul Ryan? All he knows is budgets, and even in that area he sucks. He has no experience in the committees on foreign relations, defense, or national security.

Ted Cruz only arrived on the national scene in January. At one point he hollered that we ain’t got no “dog in the fight” in Syria. Which is his entire national security resume.

Marco Rubio has been in the Senate two years. He has a seat on the Foreign Relations Committee, but has done nothing there but keep the seat warm.

Raul Paul has three years in the Senate. He sat on the Homeland Security Committee where he famously demanded that the Department of Homeland Security be cut by a stunning 43 percent. He had a few months on the Foreign Relations Committee, and attracted ridicule for fighting the entire Senate on the Patriot Act, whining about Obama acting in Libya without consulting him and his pals, and trying to filibuster the nomination of the CIA chief because, Emily-Latella-like, he totally misunderstood the Obama position on drone attacks. Um….never mind!

Can you imagine any of these guys sitting ten feet away from the football containing the nuclear codes?

Biden has a better track record than any of the Republicans, by a mile. Biden joined the Senate when Marco Rubio was potty-training and Paul Ryan was mastering a tricycle. Biden sat on the Foreign Relations Committee essentially forever, chairing the Committee twice. He played a central role in the successful end to the war in Yugoslavia. During the 2008 presidential campaign, so many of the other candidates deferred to him on foreign policy and national security that it became a running joke. “Joe is right, Joe is right, Joe is right.” So, he qualifies and Commander in Chief. Which is why Obama chose him as running mate.

…And now for poor, terribly unfit Hillary Clinton. Hillary had eight years in the Senate – more than Cruz, Rubio and Paul combined. She served on the Senate Armed Service Committee, the Senate panel on Airland, the panel on Emerging Threats and Capabilities, and the panel on Readiness and Management Support. She also was commissioner of the Commission on Security and Cooperation in Europe, the U.S. agency which manages our relations with our foreign security partners.

Hillary was so successful in building relations with the other party that Elizabeth Dole used her as a model; she even hung out with the hard-core Christian conservatives at the Senate Prayer Breakfast.

After 911, she fought for security improvements in New York, fought for health assistance for first responders (getting a big thank-you from the NY firefighters), reviewed homeland-security payments to first responders and communities, fixed civil-liberties problems in the Patriot Act before voting for it, and received many intelligence briefings on crises around the world.

Afghanistan and Iraq: Hillary got one-year limitations on congressional authorizations, visited the troops in both countries, reported on the Iraq insurgency, criticized the Deputy Secretary of Defense for his outlandish Iraq predictions, criticized Petraeus’ status report on Iraq, critiqued al-Maliki’s fitness as Iraqi leader, and demanded progress benchmarks in Iraq legislation, all while walking a fine line between the hard-core war supporters and the opponents.

The military and national security: she introduced a plan to increase army strength, fought to keep bases open and provide health care to veterans, reviewed generals and admirals for confirmation, moved to have the Iranian Revolutionary Guards labeled a terror organization, and voted to tighten our borders.

Hillary’s record as Secretary of State was dazzling: she was the best Secretary at least since Dean Acheson. She repaired the extensive damage caused by Bush, in relations with foreign countries and in the state of morale within the Department itself. She fought for a broader diplomatic presence abroad, pushed the Department into more global economic issues, used her Senate Armed Service experience to review the objective of our embassies, worked to help women and food programs around the world, and expanded the Department’s use of social media to sell the American message. She set a record by visiting 112 countries, some never seen by a Secretary of State before.

And as Secretary she showed the ability to think and fight effectively like a Commander in Chief would. She overcame the Vice President’s objections to get more troops to Afghanistan, staged a last-minute rescue of a Turkish-Armenian accord, repaired the U.S. image in ultra-macho Pakistan, stood up to China on internet freedom, got a big thank-you from Obama for her successful handling of the Arab Spring, drafted a plan to train the Syrian rebels who are not affiliated with al-Qaida, participated in the bin Laden operation, and met Burmese opposition leader Aung San Suu Kyi.

So….if you got these nine resumes, who would you hire, to lead our troops?

Yeah. Thought so. 

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