The day before Susan Rice’s withdrawal from consideration to become Secretary of State, that great foreign policy thinker Rep. Steve King said this about “Benghazi” (formerly the name of a city in Libya, now the Greatest Scandal of Our Era):

I believe that it’s a lot bigger than Watergate, and if you link Watergate and Iran-Contra together and multiply it times maybe 10 or so, you’re going to get in the zone where Benghazi is.

This being a comparison, it’s entirely possible King thought Watergate was, as Richard Nixon called it, a “third-rate burglary,” and that Iran/Contra was about treacherous congressional Democrats seeking to rein in the Great Patriot Oliver North as he followed the Higher Law of His Conscience.

But assuming, as is safe, King wanted to convey the almost-inconceivable monstrousness of “Benghazi,” the question remains whether people like him went after Susan Rice in order to fan the flames over “Benghazi,” or created this funhouse mirror distortion of “Benghazi” to take down Rice. It is pretty clear the fundamental motive is to find a post-election “Obama scandal” that allows Republicans to mentally nullify the 2012 elections, but beyond that the sequencing of hysteria is murky. We’ll see soon if Rice’s withdrawal propitiates or feeds this particularly psychotic idol.

Ed Kilgore

Ed Kilgore is a political columnist for New York and managing editor at the Democratic Strategist website. He was a contributing writer at the Washington Monthly from January 2012 until November 2015, and was the principal contributor to the Political Animal blog.