In the past few days, as new evidence emerged that the White House was directly involved in misleading the public with the lie that the Benghazi terror attack of Sep. 11, 2012 was motivated by outrage at a YouTube video, and as Speaker of the House John Boehner has finally acceded to demands for a select committee to probe the attack and cover-up, Democrats have resorted to a common defense: Republicans are “politicizing” Benghazi.
Would that it had been so. Republican presidential nominee Mitt Romney famously declined to use Benghazi as a political weapon in the third presidential debate of 2012, which was focused on foreign policy. Much to the dismay of his supporters, Romney left Libya off the table–partly because his attempts to raise the issue in the second presidential debate were quashed by the interventions of the biased moderator, CNN’s Candy Crowley.
As for Boehner, he had long resisted a select committee, allowing the Benghazi investigations to languish in several separate House processes and, most ineffectually of all, in the Democrat-held Senate, where outgoing Secretary of State Hillary Clinton uttered her infamous verdict: “What difference, at this point, does it make?” Her outburst was cheered by the media as a brilliant rejoinder to the Senate’s rather feeble interrogatories.
So Republicans must politicize Benghazi. When the government fails in its most basic duty and the media fails to hold it to account, only the political opposition can be trusted to defend the public interest. It is for that reason that other parliamentary systems reserve leadership of oversight committees for members of the opposition party: the prospect of political reward provides a guarantee that misconduct will be investigated.
But Republicans could not politicize Benghazi if Obama, Clinton, and the Democrats had not done it first. The essence of the Benghazi scandal is that national security was compromised for political reasons. The president and his appointees lied about what happened–and, indeed, may have chosen not to stage a rescue at the time–to avoid an uncomfortable examination of their national security policies during a tough re-election campaign.
There was a time in American politics when the Benghazi scandal would be seen as such by members of both parties. Certainly it is a scandal to Democrat Greg Hicks, who voted for Hillary Clinton in the 2008 primary and voted for Obama in 2008 and 2012. Hicks was second-in-command to murdered Ambassador Chris Stevens, and testified to Congress last year about what happened that night–and how he had been pressured not to talk.
But most Democrats have chosen to pretend that Benghazi is a non-issue. In so doing, they have endorsed the idea that the President of the United States can fail to send military assistance to Americans under attack, that the Secretary of State can deny security to diplomats abroad, that they can both lie to the victims’ families within sight of the coffins, and they can refuse to comply with congressional demands for information.
By failing to participate fully, and equally, in the investigation–and, yes, in the outrage at what happened–the Democratic Party is deliberately casting Benghazi as a partisan issue. Any–overdue!–Republican effort to politicize the Benghazi attack today is secondary to what Obama, Clinton, and Democrats have done to politicize Benghazi from the very earliest hours–with the active assistance of a shamefully corrupt, decrepit press corps.