The use of the deadly attack on the embassy in Benghazi, Libya, that resulted in the deaths of four Americans as a political tool has frankly astonished me since the foreign policy naif Mitt Romney had the bad taste to broach it the very evening that it happened. For that reason, I see a kind of lukewarm vindication of the Obama Administration’s public statements regarding the matter in the NYT’s in-depth study on it, which draws two meaningful conclusions: that al-Qaeda was not involved in the attack and that it did stem in part from the widespread protests over a rather dumb bigoted little video, just as was stated by current NSA Susan Rice.
It has long seemed to me that the Benghazi affair as initiated by the Romney folks was a matter of using President Obama’s perceived strength (as having authorized the successful raid that resulted in the death of Osama bin Laden) against him. The failure on the Romney side began with the claim that a statement attempting to ameliorate matters from the Cairo embassy was a sign that the Obama Administration actually sided with radical Islam, but this blew up into a claim that the administration was actually somehow derelict in defending the Libyan embassy from attack from several others on the Republican side, including Senators John McCain and Lindsey Graham, and House Oversight Committee Chair Darrell Issa. The use of the Benghazi tragedy as an indictment of the Obama Administration spans a number of criticisms that conservatives have had with the Commander-in-Chief—that he is Muslim or more sympathetic to radical Islam, that he isn’t a real leader, or that he wants America to fail.
It’s pretty much always been bullshit. Senators McCain and Graham did the best job of giving the game away when they failed to attend a briefing on the matter, opting instead to hang their faces in front of a camera pointing fingers. Rep. Issa, supposedly a kind of watchdog, has fluffed the matter at intervals, but is mostly of the school of investigation that insists that if he doesn’t hear what he thinks he ought, there is surely a cover-up afoot.
On Sunday, “Meet the Press” host David Gregory asked Issa to respond to The Times story, which was published online Saturday. The story also said the Benghazi attacks were “fueled in large part by anger at an American-made video denigrating Islam.”
“We have seen no evidence that the video was widely seen in Benghazi,” Issa said Sunday. “People from this administration … have said under oath there was no evidence of any reaction to a video.
“What we know, David, is the initial reports did not name this video as the prime cause,” he added.
Is that so? (No, it is not. And being a very concerned person, he might perhaps have looked at more than a few media accounts, no?) He’s also said that if a group alleges it has some connection with al-Qaeda, then that is good enough for him, which must be very validating to jihadi-come-lately groups who can at least claim to know somebody who knows somebody.
I’m afraid until Fox News gives the high sign, the idea that there was something more than usually rotten in Benghazi will be as certain a thing as the unbearable whiteness of Santa Claus in some quarters.
What I do want to point out, though, is that there is a sobering side to this in that the militants who made this attack came from the people the US supported in the overthrow of Qaddafi. I think there is an analogy that could be preemptively applied to involvement in Syria, for example. If anyone has the ear of, say, Sen McCain, they might want to try to explain it to him. I sort of hope President Obama has figured it out, but I’ve no real idea. Something about good intentions.
Today I thought it might be instructive to introduce one Todd Kincannon, Esq., one of the Republican Party’s bright young things waiting in the wings. Young Guns, I think they call themselves, as they noisily racket around trying to reinvent the GOP for the eleventy-eleventh time.
By my reckoning the GOP change-meisters have managed—by hook or by crook—to drag the party into the 20th century and appear to be hell-bent on emerging into a solidly 1950’s mindset. What next?
President Obama will address income inequality (ouch, Mitt!), outsourcing (ouch, Mitt) and Congressional obstructionism, and outline an economic blueprint to which Mitch Daniels will then respond using his new, GOP-issued oligarch-friendly talking points.
May be semi-live-blogged by yr. semi-live Mrs. Polly, but feel free to take the reins from my bloodless fingers.
Can’t say the Rev. doesn’t still have It. The NYPD decides that midnight is an excellent time to take down the Occupy Wall Street medical tent, protesters link arms around it, an unpleasant tenseness envelops all concerned, and PRESTO, there’s Jesse Jackson, right there, linking arms like the old pro he is. All livestreamed, of course. And, God bless’em, up on YouTube, instantly. Cops confer, disperse. Elated bwa-ha-has and empowered discovery by young lady: we can do stuff!
Imagine the despair of the lieutenant or inspector who thought, “we told those @#^&!s no structures, and THAT’S A STRUCTURE!” only to find himself face to face with the very Reverend Mr. Big Stuff, fresh from the unveiling of the statue of HIS FRIEND Martin Luther King, on the Mall in DC, yesterday. And he pops up here. At midnight. Instantly.
Now the loo, or D.I., whoever is stuffing that white shirt, as the kids call him, is looking like a dick.* A failed dick. But the Rev. Jackson, with whom we’ve had our problems from time to time, is definitely smelling like a rose.
Maybe they should try to get him into one of those matador costumes.
*Moving in on the medical tent? At midnight? Any argument that it wasn’t a dick move will be met with vociferous disagreement and last night’s gnocchi, which were a little heavy but make pretty good missiles. Hey, I didn’t take a vow of non-violence.
Yes, a great upheaval has been upheaving right practically on the Polly metaphorical doorstep~a huge improvement from what happened on my actual doorstep every Saturday night when I lived in the Village~but any old hoo, here are pictures of it! I’ll be posting them in dribs and drabs as I recover from the clouds of earnestness that roll over Zucotti Park every time I go. All the manifold possibility in the air, the bright eyes of the idealistic youths~they so sap a snarky person’s energies.
Impure and hardened individual that I am, I’ve tried to compensate for my aversion to chanting “hey hey ho ho” by taking the kids clean socks and spare umbrellas. I don’t know if I’m warming Libertarian toes or sheltering Anarchists, but how else can one little Obot co-opt this burgeoning movement?
His powers of New York crowd-worming were unequaled, and I almost lost him at the October 5 rally. Pausing only to high-five small ecstatic children, he nearly ditched me, but thanks to the NYPD and their crowd-control driftnets, I finally drew even with him.
“Oh, Captain America, I’m so honored to meet you!” I trilled.
He turned. “I’m the King of America,” he informed me. “Oh, pardon me!” I said. “Would you mind describing your monarchy?”
“I’d love to stay and chat, but unfortunately, I’m on a mission right now,” he said apologetically. And with that, and before I could get a picture of him from the front, he melted into the masses, but I just knew I’d see him again. And sure enough, here he is on YouTube, along with his pal, WhateverMan.
Oh there is more to tell, Roasters, so much more. And I’ve oodles of photos to post, which I will, I promise, as soon as I recuperate from the ennervating effects of all that earnestness. And having a food cart roll over my foot. No damage, but a nice Viet Nam vet who was sitting on the sidelines with his 9/11 pamphlets and all told me I was likely to get gangrene, so until tomorrow I’ll be icing my toes. I have to speak to the King of America about this!
I live a few blocks from Ground Zero, or as I’d like to think it will be known someday, One World Plaza. Last year, seeing the twin blue beacons, those elegant, quiet expressions of loss amd remembrance, I decided to follow them to their source.
Just-announced Republican Presidential candidate (and Glenn Greenwald favorite) Gary Johnson provided so much distraction with his freshness and his Xtremely sporty adrenaline addiction and his Mubaresque humongous visage behind him (but did his 50-foot face poster include Greek columns, the goldline standard for egoism? No, not like that upp—you know, that zero in the WH), that it was possible to overlook the part of his speech where he indicates that his platform includes a senior bungee jump:
Johnson said he would bring spending down by raising the retirement age and making other changes to Social Security and reducing spending on defense, Medicare and Medicaid by 43 percent each. The latter two programs would become block grants controlled by the states, he said.
“That would be 50 laboratories of innovation,” he said.
“50 laboratories of innovation” being Gliberpublican for “WTF do I know or care how to fix it? Here’s less money than you need, now go make some good-lookin’ magic!”
Because it is excellent optics to refer to senior citizens’ vital support networks as “laboratories,” and the opposition would never take the opportunity to thunder, “Are our senior citizens lab rats?”
I hadn’t planned on doing open threads for the RNC like we did for the DNC, but with the Bush/Thompson/Lieberman tri-feckless tonight and the introduction of the Wasilla PTA’s National Security Czar tomorrow, loading up some open threads as a guffaw catchers is probably a good idea.
56% Hillary Clinton
29% Barack Obama
8% John Edwards
32% Rudy Giuliani
29% John McCain
12% Mike Huckabee
7% Mitt Romney
6% Fred Thompson
3% Ron Paul
Quick thoughts: Unless Hillary stumbles horribly, she is unstoppable here (but I guess we all knew that). Obama’s only real play is to go for picking up as many delegates as he can. McCain probably got a good bounce out of New Hampshire in this poll, but if Giuliani doesn’t perform well in Florida, don’t be surprised if McCain pulls off an upset in New York. I’m kind of surprised Huckabee polled as well as he did and somewhat less surprised at how poorly Romney polled. And, hey, we don’t have enough nutjobs in NY to boost Ron Paul’s numbers? I figured he would have finished above Thompson at the very least.
MORE: I’m fairly certain about my Dem picks. I think Edwards is going to surprise again. If I had to do any flipping, I’d put Paul at #3 and Giuliani at #5 for the Repubs, but I think the Paulbearers are probably annoying the piss outta everyone in NH by now, so I don’t think they’ve converted as many indies as I would have predicted a week ago, and I still think, against my better judgment, that the New Hampshire folks are going to make Rudy pay for blowing them off, thus allowing the Thompzombies to squeak by.
UPDATE: Ugh. Nobody told me. I was wondering why The Late Slight Hope wasn’t on my TV screens today (and I couldn’t scrape Giuliani off of them). I’m gonna flip Giuliani to #5 and Thompson to #6 BUT DON’T TELL ANYONE.
Republican presidential candidates former Arkansas governor Mike Huckabee (front L) and U.S. Senator John McCain (front R) listen to former Massachusetts Governor Mitt Romney (front C) as he makes a point during the Fox News Presidential Forum at Saint Anselm College in Manchester, New Hampshire January 6, 2008. Actor and “Huckappendage” Chuck Norris (rear) pointed a semi-automatic weapon at Romney’s head for most of the forum.
Here’s a performance review of the five Republican participants in tonight’s Fox News Presidential Forum:
RUDOLPH GIULIANI: He started the evening off by tearing a Muslim baby in half with his bare hands, climbing up on the table and taking a dump on the Koran while his foreign policy expert Norman Podhoretz drew a pentagram on the studio floor using the child’s blood. Later Giulaini vigorously defended charges that New York was a sanctuary city during his tenure as mayor while he applied mascara and poured himself into a Vera Wang evening gown. He finished the evening by saying, “September 11th to me is the essence of why September 11th is and always will be September 11th and not anything else but September 11th, which occurred on September 11th and not on any other day but September 11th regardless of those people who want us to forget what happened on September 11th because it did happen on September 11th and that is why September 11th must be remembered for what it is ... September 11th. And to conclude, September 11th.”
FRED THOMPSON: He spent most of the evening consumed with the tasks of eating steaming bowls of cream of wheat and bottling his own farts, occasionally breaking in to utter things like, “Mandate mumble mumble ACLU mumble mumble border security mumble mumble islamofascism mumble mumble fart jar.” By the end of the forum he had curled up on the floor with his pants around his ankles and fallen fast asleep.
MIKE HUCKABEE: Following moderator Chris Wallace’s initial question regarding Huckabee referring to George Bush’s “arrogance and bunker mentality,” Huckabee pulled out his bass guitar and began playing Chicago’s “25 or 6 to 4.” When Wallace protested Chuck Norris walked over to the moderator and punched him in the throat, causing the broadcast to be delayed for several minutes. Wallace’s toughest question directed at Huckabee for the rest of the forum was “What is your favorite ice cream flavor?” to which Huckabee replied, “Sanctity of life.”
MITT ROMNEY: Visibly shaken by having Chuck Norris point a semi-automatic weapon at his head during the entire forum, Romney just prattled on about sports for most of the evening, saying things like “If Willie Mays hadn’t stayed with the American Basketball Association after winning the Stanley Cup, Billie Jean King would have gone on to dominate the Cy Young Award. And, ummmm, pole vault.” At the end of the evening all of the candidates except for Thompson, who was asleep under the table, beat Romney to a bloody pulp just because they all think he’s a douchebag.
JOHN MCCAIN: Relishing his current front-runner status in the New Hampshire race, McCain just kept barking out the word “maverick” and spinning around in his chair during the beginning of the forum. At one point when Wallace asked him if he still stood behind the McCain-Feingold act, McCain grew agitated, ran out of the studio, headbutted a female production assistant and started wildly fucking a Coke machine. He then sprinted outside and tried to half-nelson a Prius for twenty minutes. After he gave up, he returned to the studio, poked his head in the door and yelped, “Maverick!”
I do think, Diane, that Fred Thompson had a terrific night. I mean, this is the Fred Thompson we used to see as an actor on television. He was confident. He was funny. He was well informed. The question is, is it too late to matter?
I’m being as objective as possible here; I even thought Guiliani had a pretty good night, but Fred Thompson? He was a mumbling bowl of ill-informed mush. A complete disaster. How did Stephanopolous come away from watching that debate thinking Thompson had a “terrific night”?
Over the weekend the beltway crowd has pushed forth the meme that there’s some kind of John McCain surge in the works, but I just ain’t buying it. First of all, poll-wise, there’s just no evidence of it, so all they seem to be running with are some recent newspaper endorsements he’s received (and, please, the endorsement of the sniveling “Independent Democrat” Joe Lieberman won’t help at all). Let’s take a look at what impact those newspaper endorsements will have according to Rasmussen:
Just 4% of Americans say an endorsement by their local newspaper will make them more likely to vote for a candidate. Thirteen percent (13%) say it will likely have the opposite impact.
McCain is dead in the water barring some weird confluence of extraordinary circumstances. I still think Romney’s going to be their guy. The Huckabubble will burst relatively soon and Mitt’s sitting on piles of cash. Thompson is a dud and Giuliani is covered in ooze.
MORE: I don’t see Ron Paul doing much in Iowa, but look for a surprise showing by him in New Hampshire. I’m going to go out on a limb and predict he’ll come in third behind Romney and McCain.