This business of predictability in what passes for strategy on the Republican side would be hilarious, were there not such potential for dire consequences, depending on the extent to which gullible non-rabid partisans climb aboard the hard-liners’ bandwagon, to swallow intact the twaddle served them by GOP past masters of guile. Critical mid-term elections are upcoming in November, and the intensity surrounding the 2016 presidential stakes is already through the roof. The need to bait-and-switch, to bamboozle, to con their way to ballot-box success is what right now consumes Republican strategists like nothing else. Hence, in a routine gone stale, their pulling, the other day, yet another Benghazi rabbit out of the hat.
The latest Benghazi resurrection is seemingly intended to be a GOP two-fer: a rally cry to be used against Democrats in this year’s mid-terms and a broadside that they hope will eviscerate Hillary Clinton if she decides to be a presidential candidate in 2016. The good betting says neither of these will be particularly effective. Only because Benghazi has already been beaten to death as a would-be issue by Republicans to no avail. From Mitt Romney’s failed attempt to give it bite in his face-off with President Obama in 2012 to the elongated witch hunt of Congressman Darrell Issa (whose position heading “investigations” into anything is probably Capitol Hill’s number one absurdity), the Benghazi ship has long sailed, absent the bounty Republicans had hoped to load in.
To be sure, this latest destined-to-be-futile effort to re-float the Benghazi episode would have been left in the propaganda suggestion box, if the mining potential for stuff once considered “can’t miss” campaign fodder hadn’t looked so bleak of late. Most notable among those avenues of attack no longer offering big-time promise is, of course, the Affordable Care Act. After a problem-plagued launch, recent news of sign-ups in excess of eight million wasn’t what Republicans cared to hear, and in a demographically proportional mix, to boot, that ensures the program’s financial viability. After the obligatory huff and puff decrying those figures as fabricated and all the rest, GOP masterminds had to face up to health care not being the Democratic punching bag they were sure it would be, and the need to devise a plan B. That their best option turns out to be this desperate bid to hike the tired Benghazi trail once again probably explains why relying on gobs of Super-PAC money is really the only campaign game plan Republicans have.
And with nothing doing by way of substance, here come the actors. House speaker John Boehner is the lead. Every once in a blue moon, Boehner makes like he’s capable of being a true stand-up guy. As when he refused, a few days ago, to join the chorus of voices in his caucus demanding the resignation of Secretary of Veterans Affairs, Gen. Eric Shinseki. Not so, Benghazi, where all bets are evidently off for Boehner. Something like this crystal-clear obvious attempt to make political hay out of that unfortunate happening in Libya should have aroused, one would think, any ”better angels” that there might be to Boehner’s nature. Clearly, a straight-shooter demeanor is nowhere close to being typical Boehner. He is certifiably a full-fledged subscriber to the bottom-feeder mentality and tactics of his party.
Boehner is one of a couple of GOP principals who readily come to mind, in terms of attempting to project, on occasion, an image designed to preclude their being lumped in with the party’s extremist kooks. The other is John McCain. Because of his military background, including time spent as a Vietnam era p.o.w., McCain has assumed a position as the Republican foreign policy face. Which would be fine, except that he insists on, again, predictably bludgeoning the public with a take on foreign policy that is totally out of step with Americans’ sentiments on foreign policy priorities at this juncture. Even if the Obama administration believes, for instance, that Vladimir Putin’s simulated war dance in Ukraine has warranted the application of sanctions and some tough talk, hardly has there been any level-headed observer who thinks U.S. involvement on some military level is a smart option. Trust McCain to insist that it is and to insist further that the American people “should be led” to that ramped-up response to Putin’s antics.
McCain isn’t easily resigned to there being exit dates for this country’s military involvement in Iraq and Afghanistan. To hear him tell it, hawkish posture is still alive and well. What’s perplexing is that for some reason, there’s seemingly a McCain hammer lock on the media which uncannily guarantees him continuous talking-head exposure.
The flip side McCain contributions like his up-front positioning on immigration reform and campaign finance reform necessarily are obscured by the hard-charging, power-packing imperative that McCain thinks must continue to define America’s place in the world. And an awareness that MCcain was willing to entrust the presidency to Sarah Palin certainly doesn’t enhance one’s impression of the man.
Unlike a few decades ago, one doesn’t find in today’s Republican ranks the kind of mettle that inspires confidence suggestive of good governance. Only on the one hand, outright wackos. And in the case of a Boehner or McCain, some few who’ve too often flattered to deceive about where they’re really coming from.