Those see-through ploys to gain mileage

Last fall, when the voting didn’t go all that well for Republican/Tea Party/conservative types, the Republican governor of Louisiana, Bobby Jindal, for the second time that we knew of went public with his chastisement of party colleagues, that they should stop being “the stupid party.” Unless he is himself a contributor to it, Jindal may want to add “predictable” to the maxim he’d like his GOP mates to observe, there being surely a makeable case that no rocket science brain power is required to see right through the party’s chess board maneuvers.

Back in 2008 when Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama were duking it out for the Democratic nomination, the conservative media (New York’s included) took to laying on some added wallop in the reporting of primary defeats Clinton suffered, as if championing the Obama cause. Clear as daylight and conceivably not beguiling too many with the ruse, this “rooting” for Obama had only to do with his being perceived as a much easier pick-off for the GOP standard bearer. Predictable stuff.

Clinton isn’t running for anything, as far as we know, but she’s again in the crosshairs of that right-side nexus, which has been relentless in its efforts to get her smeared with the blood of those diplomatic personnel killed in last year’s Benghazi consulate attack. Never mind the State Department’s own review, independent investigation headed by a respected diplomat and hearings in both the Senate and the House, the battering-ram style pummeling of Clinton for alleged culpability in the Benghazi tragedy is strategy that has legs, its orchestrators believe. Of course just about everyone is by now hip to what’s behind all these alarms being sounded. And, as well they should, Democrats (and others) have been calling out the folks evidently committed to realizing some kind of political profit from the incident, to Clinton’s detriment, clearly with the 2016 presidential stakes in mind. Again, predictable stuff.

The naked, underlying truth of these tactics (and people’s awareness of this) notwithstanding, we know from experience there’s no way the hounds are about to back off and declare Benghazi a lemon from which all juice has been squeezed. It didn’t take as an issue in the 2012 election; that’s no reason for it not to be ginned up for 2016. A Benghazi consulate staffer surfaces to claim he was demoted after he expressed views contrary to those of the powers that be, and it’s a cue to give the thing another whirl. We’re bombarded, still, with chatter about changed “talking points” in the aftermath of the attack. But as Clinton rightly said during the Senate hearing, “What difference does it make at this point?”

In truth, the Libya episode was one that should not be part of the American narrative when it is written. American involvement in the uprising in Libya that led to the overthrow of Qaddafi was something we repeatedly ripped in this space as a terrible idea. To us there was no mistaking that the so-called Arab Spring, which saw all of that tumult in a succession of Arab countries was a movement best left to the respective populations to sort out. Former Secretary of Defense Robert Gates, amplifying his position opposing the U.S. involvement in Libya, said in a TV interview a few days ago: “We overestimate our ability to determine outcomes.” For emphasis he would add: “I oversaw two wars that began with quick regime change and we all know what happened after that.” Gates, more given to scholarly analysis of unfolding events as opposed to the cowboy approach of his predecessor in the Bush administration, Donald Rumsfeld, could speak in those tempered tones about a foreign policy that had been framed in his Bush stint by a neocon emphasis on bluster, and which some progressives thought Obama too often tended to approximate.

Former French President Sarkozy was the lead international “Get Qaddafi!” advocate, who was able to get Britain’s David Cameron and ultimately President Obama to sign on. And although achieving Qaddafi’s ouster, the revolt was always fraught with chaos and uncertainty as to who exactly were the elements in the mix seeking to topple the long-serving strongman. It is this unavoidable state of confusion following these regime change uprisings that makes dreamers of Americans still hewing to “big stick” policy who believe that short work can be made of operations to hand control over to perceived “friends” of America in faraway places. Some folk simply refuse to see Iraq and Afghanistan as having object-lesson value.

But it’s taking foreign policy matters to despicable extremes when a situation such as occurred in Benghazi is so crudely turned into a political ploy. Four Americans paid the ultimate sacrifice while serving overseas and one would think they deserve in death better than the witch hunt, as Senator Dick Durbin of Illinois called it, that has been made of the circumstances that got these individuals killed.

Hillary Clinton hasn’t declared herself a candidate for anything, but there’s already this ruckus. The Republicans, though, should probably take a cue from Mitt Romney’s experience in the second debate with Obama, when he obviously thought he had a big-game Benghazi coup de grace with which to nail the president and instead got famously check-mated. For Republicans still dead set on this course, Benghazi just might be too good to be true as political pay dirt.

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