I HEART Pierce:
I've spent most of this week at my dad's bedside, in the hospital where he was taken with congestive heart failure. He's doing okay, thanks, but he's 92 ("and three-quarters"), so he's gonna be watched for a while.It only came to me late in the afternoon, and with some prompting by a commenter, why the Secretary was able to handle so easily the feral children of the House, and the feral pre-adolescents like Ron Johnson in the Senate. It's not because she was a senator, although that probably helped. And it's not because she spent four years eating canapes with various dictators and democrats around the world. It's because she was First Lady -- and therefore, Target 1A -- during the craziest four years anyone ever saw. The whole Republican Benghazi legend is spun from the same ball of fantasy whence came Vince Foster's death, and the billing records, and the cattle futures, and her lesbianism, and the crack pipes on the White House Christmas tree. And, of course, the original Whitewater scandal, a nothingburger that was peddled by every poolroom liar in Arkansas to many of our oh-so-civil members of the elite political press, until it came somehow to include bill-padding (Webster Hubbell), local influence-peddling (the very dubious conviction of Jim Guy Tucker), the conviction of people who swindled the Clintons themselves, which was somehow proof that the Clintons were swindling people, and, remarkably, at the end of the day, the wandering penis of the president of the United States.That was what Benghazi was going to be. You could see them working it. "Benghazi" was going to be the secret conjuring mist within which this president's assumed anti-Americanism, and his essential Otherness, would swirl around what actually happened in Libya until it became an all-encompassing cloud in which nothing had to be proven because everything was "out there." Benghazi was going to be the Arkansas Project with an actual body count.
My dad would almost assuredly by identified as a FOX News Old if he were to enter the internet political arena, which he won't. He's a lifelong Indiana Republican. Oddly, or perhaps not, this is more like hometown sports rooting than recitation of the noxious fumes that FOX emits. He never was an ideologue, and certainly not a ranter. He believed, and still believes, in a sort of White Christian sense of propriety. It rides around in him unchallenged, and it's informed by his grasping the wrong end of the stick, the one FOX conveniently holds out for him on an hourly basis.
I returned to the cardiac ward from a trip home for dinner yesterday evening. He had some cable news on, though, thankfuly, not the evil Roger Ailes variety. Maybe they block it at the hospital; I haven't had the controls to check. Any road, clips of Secretary Clinton were playing; I couldn't really hear (the damn thing has its speaker in the control, and if there's any more compelling counter-argument to the Randoid Miracle of Entrepreneurial Tech Magic than the sound quality of any and every modern electronic device with a speaker, I haven't unearthed it). I was, of course, in all likelihood her "exchange" with "Senator" Ron Johnson (R-Does It Fucking Matter Where Anymore?). And my dad says, "She's good. She's really changed."
This was by no means the haze of FOX lifting; it was FOX itself, where Hitlery is now "respected", like her husband, and in case you've forgotten their previous opinion of him for some reason, see Pierce, above.
Before we squint at Weigel's retelling, let's take a moment to ask ourselves: how much would we have to reshape the universe to imagine a world where the Republican--the official Republican, let alone the FOX Nation Republican--response to Benghazi would resemble the way a rational person responded? These people are orders of fucking magnitude away from sanity. And they've built themselves a redoubt where they won't get called on it.
Republicans wanted answers about Benghazi. They wanted them yesterday. They wanted them now. “Why was security at the consulate so inadequate?” asked four Republican senators in an October op-ed. “Did anyone order U.S. military and intelligence personnel in Benghazi or nearby in the region who offered help to stand down?” One week ago, three of those senators published 14 more questions about the Sept. 11, 2012, attack that killed four Americans. Why was the FBI investigating an “act of terrorism?” Why wasn’t a military response ready in a hurry, when the consulate came under attack? And “what were the secretary of State's activities during this time?”
Here's a little-appreciated fact for the urban hipster: bullshit makes decent fuel, or a building material if you find yourself on the Plains, but it is of almost no use to the fertilizer salesman. Most stuff won't grow on it.
They were supposed to find out today. Hillary Clinton, who’s leaving the State Department as soon as she can toss the baton to Sen. John Kerry, spent the morning with the Senate Foreign Relations Committee and the afternoon with the House. She would have come in December, but events got away from her: an unexplained illness, a pack of Republicans speculating that she had “Benghazi flu,” the revelation that she’d had a blood clot, followed by some furtive Republican apologies.
Six different ways to refer to Clinton's single illness, five of them about loony speculation ungrounded by fact, reasonable speculation, or gravity. One more and it would be a metaphor for the Benghazi investigation itself.
They blew it. All congressional hearings are invitations for preening, showboating, and not-a-question-but-a-comment speeches. The grilling of Hillary Clinton was worse: a repetitive series of losing rematches, of Republicans asking questions that had been asked and answered and asked and answered. They coaxed one new piece of information from her, but they didn’t seem to notice, as their press offices once again tried to shame her for ever suggesting that the Benghazi attack grew out of protests against an anti-Islam video.
Look, we're long past the chance that there'd be someone on the right end of the spectrum politically savvy enough to understand this was a losing draw in the first place. Honestly, all that's left to wonder is whether, at some point in the future, the Republican party will be able to attract someone sane enough to glimpse the problem.
This thing began with the "suggestion" that the attack grew out of one of the many demonstrations about that fool video. It was a pinhead notion to begin with: The administration didn't label the attack Terrism! Which was only meaningful for people with a deep-seated need to hear the word repeated as often as possible. It amounted to complaining that the hooker didn't fake an orgasm while she was blowing you. It settled on Rice, who, it was later established, had not been cleared to say that a murderous band (Terrists! Islamonazis!) had used the cover of the demonstration to stage a raid; this is like complaining that a police spokesman didn't give away all the clues the cops were holding to themselves. It then began to collect the detritus of wingnut thought: "They won't admit it was terrism, because that will tarnish The Messiah's so-called killing of bin-Laden, on which his slim chances of reelection hang." Wingnut Marine dad chimes in that his son wasn't allowed bullets; some other military genius proposed that F-16s could'a flown in really low and non-violently put out the fire.
But the hearing wasn’t supposed to be about her. It was the Republicans’ chance to get answers. Even McCain mostly muffed the chance, using his time with Clinton to recite a litany of questions, giving her time for one evasive response. “When were you made aware of the attack on the British ambassador?” he asked. “What was the president’s activities during that seven-hour period?”
Maybe you guys should be meeting in private, on your own time, and trying to figure out why your pre-election polling was so godawful. Not to mention your candidates. If you decide to, I know where you can find a stenographer.