When a significant group of politicians decide to make some event or issue the center of media attention, they can often do so to a considerable extent whether it makes sense or not. When an entire political party becomes committed to an event or issue as of transcendent importance, it instantly becomes so regardless of the merits of the case.

So it doesn’t seem that strange when Sen. Lindsay Graham (R-SC) threatens to place a second Cabinet-level nomination on hold until he gets the answers he wants from every imaginable Obama administration figure over what most conservatives just call “Benghazi,” the way you or I might reference “9/11” or “Stalingrad” or even “Calvary.”

Yes, Graham’s going to hold up Chuck Hagel’s confirmation until Leon Panetta testifies on “Benghazi.” Think Progress‘ Hayes Brown has the story:

Appearing on Fox News last night, Graham made clear that he was unsatisfied with Secretary of State Hillary Clinton’s testimony last week, saying, “I haven’t forgotten about Benghazi. Hillary Clinton got away with murder, in my view.” Graham’s quest for the truth has now led him to current Secretary of Defense Leon Panetta.

Panetta, who has not testified before Congress about the role he played during the Sept. 11 attack on a U.S. diplomatic mission in the Libya city, is due to step down from his position at the Pentagon in the coming weeks. Graham now insists that Panetta would have to provide answers on what happened that night to the Armed Services Committee, on which Graham is a member.

I don’t where Graham thinks this will end, but for a good time now the Senate GOP’s obsession with “Benghazi” has resembled last year’s House GOP obsession with “Fast and Furious,” the botched gun-walking operation first hatched in the Bush administration. Both incidents involved admitted official screw-ups and the tragic loss of life. But for Republicans infected with this particular virus, both incidents also provide critically important glimpses into the nightmarish world view of liberals who want to use maximum government power to seize guns while abandoning Americans overseas to Jihadist terrorits who ought to be undergoing torture at Gitmo.

Since the various officials Graham wants to interrogate aren’t going to supply the admissions he seeks–you know, that they knowingly publicized a false explanation of the killings in Benghazi because they never want to blame anything on Muslims–it’s not clear when this down-the-rabbit-hole “scandal” will end. Maybe it will end when congressional Republicans run out of confirmation hostages.

Our ideas can save democracy... But we need your help! Donate Now!

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.