Dishonest GOP engages in Benghazi fetishism (again) on Sunday talk shows, non-partisans lose (again)

What’s particularly irritating about Republicans’ recent rage parade is not that the Obama administration is necessarily without fault in both the Benghazi affair and the recent revelations about IRS investigations of “tea party” and “patriot” groups. It’s that Republicans are comporting themselves as if a cursory knowledge of recent history and elementary Googling couldn’t prove that their sense of integrity is highly selective.

This, of course, is nothing new. But it’s worth discussing today because the crocodile tears flowed heavily during the Sunday Squawking this morning.

John McCain, for example, said on ABC’s This Week, that Benghazi requires even more probing after months of investigations, and suggested that Victoria Nuland’s potentially CYA memo edits were indicative of a conspiracy that implicates probable 2016 Presidential candidate Hillary Clinton.

“For the president’s spokesman to say there were only words or technical changes made in those emails is flat out untrue. I like Mr. Carney, but that’s just unacceptable for the president’s spokesman to say that to the American people.”

In calling for Clinton to testify again on the issue, McCain said: “She had to have been in the loop. …Her response before the Foreign Relations Committee when she said, ‘who cares how this happened?’ in a rather emotional way. I’d say, with all due respect, the American people care.”

Yet McCain didn’t deem Iraq War intelligence cover-ups to be something that the American people cared about. He denied they even happened, refusing to show much curiosity in investigating the issue by erroneously claiming (read: lying) in 2009 that “every intelligence agency in the world and every assessment” showed that Saddam Hussein had WMDs.

Nor did he seem to think that the Iran-Contra affair was “just unacceptable.” He styled himself as a defender of Reagan during Iran-Contra hearings in his 2000 presidential campaign, and according to a 2006 Current Biography profile, empathized with every Nicaraguan death squad’s favorite American, and every Reaganshevik’s favorite fall guy, Oliver North.

“Some of these people like Ollie North,” he explained to Michael Killian for the Chicago Tribune (July 29, 1987), “who saw their comrades and friends spill blood and die on the battlefields in a war that they believe the politicians wouldn’t let them win—I think that leads to a mind-set which could rationalize deviating from the established rules and regulations.”

Additionally evidencing the GOP’s questionable motivations behind the probe was Darrell Issa on “Meet the Press.” David Gregory prodded him on politicization, pointing out that Republicans have been fundraising off of Benghazi, and didn’t exhibit the same curiosity about security failures in the dozens of embassy attacks that have occurred in the past few decades. Issa denied accusations of partisan investigating, but conceded that the affair could have “gone on for weeks or months,” like the Tehran hostage crisis, and was rebuffed by fellow guest, Ambassador Thomas Pickering, when he accused the White House of preventing Pickering — one of the authors of the State Department’s investigation of the report — from testifying before his committee. Pickering implied that Issa hadn’t even read the report, and said that many of his grievances were addressed in the classified version of the document.

Shifting gears now the IRS investigations, another story that Alex Jones Rand Paul will surely cite as evidence of an Obama-led Globalist Takeover. House Intel Committee chair Mike Rogers was on Fox News Sunday, blasting the IRS’ inappropriate investigation of conservative groups.

“I don’t care if you’re a conservative or a liberal, a Democrat or a Republican – this should send a chill up your spine,” Rep. Mike Rogers (R-Mich.) said on “Fox News Sunday.” “This is not something we can let stand. We need to have a full investigation. I don’t know where this stops, who is involved. We need to have a fact-based investigation and it has to be external.. [sic] and I think Congress needs to have that oversight.”

Which is intriguing. Rogers’ defense of civil liberties this morning doesn’t exactly square with his record as the co-sponsor of CISPA, a bill that would have granted the government the right to conduct fishing expeditions online in an era when peaceful anti-war activists, transparency advocates, anarchist dissidents, and Muslims are routinely and inappropriately targeted for harassment by the Federal government (Oh and, by the way, his wife was, “until recently, the president and CEO of Aegis LLC a “security” defense contractor company, whom she helped to secure a $10 billion (with a b) contract with the State Department.”)

Republican Senate Leader Mitch McConnell also denounced the IRS investigations as “thuggish practices,” despite his own history of boosting creepy government. He called for Julian Assange “to be prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law and if it that becomes a problem, we need to change the law” — all for publishing classified information, which the New York Times and Washington Post do on the regular. And when Alberto Gonzales was forced to resign in 2007 after it was revealed he fired U.S. Attorneys that weren’t engaging in a witch hunt against Democratic candidates, McConnell decried “poisonous partisanship that we’ve sadly grown accustomed to over the past eight months.”

Why this matters is that Americans without a dog in this fight will lose. The Obama administration might be guilty of some misdeeds here — Pickering’s report, for example, didn’t address whether or not the State Department actively sought to make the situation in Libya appear more stable than it actually is. But the “facts” that will emerge are going to come from overzealous and vindictive partisan investigators with a long history of putting party over country. Republicans who fancy themselves as righteous muckrakers have little credibility beyond conservative activists, who seem to think that history started in 2009. Tea Party die-hards might have the memories of meth-addicted gold fish, but the majority of political observers don’t. Which is why it can be hard to take their hootin’ and hollerin’ seriously — even if investigations aren’t inappropriate.

Samuel Knight

Samuel Knight is a freelance journalist living in DC and a former intern at the Washington Monthly.