Could Benghazi! Have Been Big 2012 Campaign Issue? Nope.

With the news that the RNC actually put together a nasty 2012 ad on Benghazi! that the Romney campaign vetoed, you can see the next conservative revisionist theory approaching fast in the rear-view window, can’t you? The incompetent squishes running the campaign of the incompetent squish Mitt Romney threw away the election by failing to deploy this game-changer!

Slate‘s Dave Weigel nicely punctures this thought-balloon before it has been fully inflated:

This was never going to work. We learned why not during the election but during the weeks around the George W. Bush Presidential Center dedication. Bush, you’ll remember, was president during the deadliest terrorist attack ever on American soil. Yet Bush’s defenders credited him with Keeping America Safe. How? As Jennifer Rubin put it (though you could quote one of dozens of pundits), “there was no successful attack on the homeland after 9/11” while Bush was at the wheel.

This is mockable (Charlie Pierce calls it “the great mulligan”) but astute. Bush got re-elected on this theory. Americans are fretful about terrorism only to the extent that it might kill them in America. The Bush-era response to terrorism led to two fitfully successful land wars in central Asia, with thousands of military deaths; more relevantly, when we’re talking Benghazi, the Bush years saw 64 attacks of varying scale on American diplomats and embassies. None of them hurt his re-election. A terrorist attack of the same scale in, say, Indianapolis would have. Not overseas.

To put it another way, if George W. Bush got re-elected after disregarding every official and unofficial warning about the consequences of invading Iraq, not just fudging some post-event “talking points” on Sunday shows but lying to the American people and the whole world personally and repeatedly about the justifications for the war and how it was actually proceeding, then the idea that Obama could have been defeated by Benghazi! even if you assume the absolute worst about it is simply ludicrous. But we’re going to hear it anyway.

Ed Kilgore

Ed Kilgore, a Monthly contributing editor, is a columnist for the Daily Intelligencer, New York magazine’s politics blog, and the managing editor for the Democratic Strategist.