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Thursday, Oct 23, 2014
Tom Jackson Columns

The Right Stuff: We’ll see soon enough if Benghazi probe is “political theater”

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The Right Stuff blog updates throughout the week at TBO.com.

Regarding the formation of a House select committee to investigate the Benghazi affair, Democrats have made their sentiments plain.

What we have here, huffs Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz, the Gold Coast flamethrower and head of the Democratic National Committee, is no more than a Republican exercise in “wast[ing] taxpayer time and money on more political theater” designed to “motivate their base for the midterm elections and to raise money.”

It’s all a big distraction, says Wasserman Schultz, an attempt to bury recent “positive news concerning ... the Affordable Care Act” even as Democrats “remain focused on strengthening security at our embassies and bringing the perpetrators of this heinous attack to justice.”

Well. You can believe that if you want to.

For openers, 20 months after the attack on the U.S. Consulate that left four Americans, including Ambassador Chris Stevens, dead, the only “perpetrator” to have encountered the righteous wrath of our justice is a Southern California video-maker whom the Obama administration scapegoated to camouflage its mishandling of the situation before, during and after the assault.

If there’s nothing to see here, and nothing new to learn, that will be evident soon enough. Pardon us while National Review columnist Jim Geraghty scoffs.

“In Benghazi, we have the spectacle of Democrats insisting that by forming a special investigative committee, the Republicans are making a huge, self-destructive mistake that will end in their own embarrassment and humiliation ...

“ ... and then doing everything possible to prevent the Republicans from doing that. They must be doing it out of brotherly love! ... [Or perhaps] they think a full investigation wouldn’t lead to that humiliation for the special committee.”

If Republicans make a hash of it, of course, Democrats will have earned their right not merely to preen, but to fashion a club from their vindication entering November’s midterms. After all, as claimed by MSNBC producer Dafna Linzer, “Everyone is looking for something on the Republican side, the conservative side, to tar the administration with going into yet another election. ... Benghazi is a lot like Obamacare. We’ve already been through this a few times, and we’ve already gone through an election with it, and I don’t see this working out; there’s not much left for them to play with.”

“We know what happened,” national security consultant K.T. McFarland said on “Imus in the Morning” on Friday. “Inadequate security. No rescue mission. No going after the bad guys afterward. But we don’t know why. ...

“Who made these decisions? Who decided not to have adequate security? Who decided we weren’t going to rescue these guys? And why?

“ ‘Why’ is almost the most important question. If we weren’t going to do this, if we’re not going to rescue Americans because we’re afraid of another ‘Black Hawk down’ incident before an election, or we’re not going to give adequate security because, after all, al-Qaida’s finished ... if those are the motivations, that means that it’s OK for the American government and the White House to say to the intelligence community and the military community you’re not nearly as important as us winning re-election.”

McFarland, and not fog machines Wasserman Schultz and Linzer, strikes closest to the heart of the Benghazi matter. Twenty months down the road, the who and the why (not to mention significant questions, as they pertain to the president and the secretary of state, about the when and the where) remain unresolved. If the House select committee, chaired by former federal prosecutor Trey Gowdy, does its work properly, we’ll either learn all the full and pertinent answers, or we’ll have a better idea of the administration’s willingness to obfuscate for political gain.

Either way, the country will be better off having probed for the absolute truth.

tjackson@tampatrib.com

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