It’s been hard to sort out the claims and counter-claims being made about the attack in Benghazi and how the Obama Administration has responded. But here are some must-read backgrounders:
Kevin Drum, “The Benghazi Controversy Explained.”
Erich Lach, “How the Benghazi Attack Became a GOP Talking Point.”
I recommend reading both articles. Together, they provide a clear picture of what probably happened in Benghazi; what the Obama Administration said about it, and when; how the Right, and particularly Fox News, has fabricated information to blur the tragic event into a scandal to hurt the Obama Administration.
Kevin Drum’s summation:
Bottom line: There were conflicting reports on the ground, and that was reflected in conflicting and sometimes confused reports from the White House. I don’t think anyone would pretend that the Obama’s administration’s response to Benghazi was anywhere near ideal. Nevertheless, the fact is that their statements were usually properly cautious; the YouTube video really did play a role; the attack was opportunistic, not preplanned; and it doesn’t appear to have had any serious connection with al-Qaeda. It’s true that it took about ten days for all this to really shake out, but let’s be honest: ten days isn’t all that long to figure out what really happened during a violent and chaotic attack halfway around the world. I get that it’s a nice opportunity for Republicans to score some political points in the runup to an election, but really, there’s not much there there.
See also David Ignatius, “CIA documents supported Susan Riceâ€™s description of Benghazi attacks.”
Related post: “Fox News cost Mitt the debate” by Jonathan Bernstein. Bernstein’s overall point is that Republicans have a “policy deficit” and must resort to running on scandals.
When Ronald Reagan took office, conservative think tanks were ready with a host of ideas for transforming what government did and the way it did it. As recently as the 2000 campaign, George W. Bush campaigned on, for example, No Child Left Behind and a faith-based initiative. Does Romney have anything similar he’s talking about during this campaign? Not that I’ve heard.
What he’s substituted for policy is scandal, on the one hand, and symbolism, on the other.
Republicans’ reliance on a scandal framework is most obvious in their attacks on Barack Obama. The stimulus is reduced in this point of view to “Solyndra.” Energy? One pipeline to Canada.
Most of the time, there’s almost no real attempt to construct an argument against actual policies, to treat government programs proposed by the president as policies that one might agree or disagree with. That’s not always true â€“ a lot of the arguments against the Affordable Care Act, and some of the case against the stimulus, really were policy-based. But more often Republicans have tried to frame their attacks around scandal.
Even when Mitt says he has a plan, it’s a plan with no details. For example, the famous five-point economic plan isn’t a plan at all, but a list of five things that would be helpful to grow an economy, accompanied by only vague suggestions for arriving at those five things.
It’s not so much a plan as a gimmick intended to represent a plan. Sort of like the stacks of paper Republicans in Congress trotted out in 2010 to show that they had a health care plan. And do you remember George Bush’s “National Strategy for Victory” from 2005? Republicans don’t do plans; they do props.