© Josh Sager – May 2013
For months, the Republicans have attempted to stir the 9/11/12 attack on the Benghazi Consulate into a massive international security scandal. These attempts are motivated purely by politics and the desire to paint President Obama as “weak of terror,” as many of the very same politicians who are championing this scandal simply ignored 13 such incidents during the Bush years.
What makes the focus on the Benghazi “scandal” by opponents of Obama truly absurd is not the hypocrisy of those pushing the issue, but the simple fact that the Obama administration has made truly scandalous decisions over the past few years, and the right wing chooses to focus on a fake scandal. For example, here are a few scandals that the GOP could rightly attack Obama on:
- Extralegal assassinations of Americans: Not only has the Obama administration massively expanded the Bush-era drone program, but it has actually used this program to target Americans (one of whom was a minor) abroad for summery execution by drone strike. In justifying this, Eric Holder used the truly terrifying argument that “Due process isn’t necessarily judicial process”—an argument that boils down to the idea that unelected CIA officials have the legal right to kill Americans based upon suspicions without ever presenting the case in court or to a judge.
- Double Tap Drone Strikes: In many of the places where the US military/intelligence drones operate (primarily Yemen and Pakistan), our country has engaged in “double tapping” civilian populations with drone strikes. This is a tactic pioneered by the IRA and Palestinian extremists that involves bombing first-responders and those who try to help people wounded in a primary strike. This tactic is illegal and is nothing more than the intentional targeting of civilian medical personnel.
- Ignoring the Crimes of the Banks after being Elected with their Money: During his 2008 election campaign, Obama took huge quantities of money from bankers in support of his election. Once elected, Obama’s DOJ refused to prosecute even a single banker for the absolute devastation that they wrought on our economy; it isn’t that there wasn’t enough evidence of these crimes or that some ambiguity in the law prevented such prosecutions, but rather that the Obama administration simply decided not to pursue any criminal consequences for those responsible.
While the Benghazi attack was terrible, it wasn’t a scandal—particularly when it is put up against the other potentially scandalous actions by the Obama administration. Fake scandals, like the Benghazi attack, Fast and Furious, or the supposed infiltration of the government by the Muslim Brotherhood, are purely political theater and have no real substance. They exist simply to give one side of the political spectrum an albatross to hand around the neck of the other and to give cover to the scandalous actions that both parties truly support.
The GOP’s laser focus on Benghazi is completely ridiculous from a factual standpoint, but it is entirely understandable from a political one. The truly scandalous actions of the Obama administration are actions that the GOP actually supports and would rather not draw negative attention to; they love being able to fund their campaigns with bank money, having the ability to circumvent the courts in order to kill suspected terrorists, and have no problem with dropping bombs on civilians in countries that many Americans can’t point out on a map. As such, the GOP has no desire to attack the truly scandalous actions of the Obama administration and would much rather attack their opposition by stirring up a fake scandal.
Unfortunately, the GOP’s focus on fake scandals not only stirs of controversy where there is none, but it also causes the fake scandals to cover up the real ones. All of the pointless grandstanding over Benghazi covers up the real scandals that continue to be perpetrated by our executive branch. Eventually, the Benghazi mess will subside—likely to be almost immediately replaced by another scandal—but the real problems will continue unaddressed.
If the Benghazi furor teaches us one thing, it is that the shiny lure of a partisan scandal can distract the public from very real policy scandals and is a threat to accountability. If they were truly looking out for the American people, the GOP would get off of the fake scandals and start to focus upon the real scandals that have actual policy ramifications.
In short: If you want to attack the Obama Administrations’ faults, it isn’t as though they are perfect and you have no material. They have done some truly heinous things and you are actually helping them cover their misdeeds up by distracting the American public with non-factual, manufactured outrage over unfortunate events.
What about the National Defense Authorization Act? Was the signing of indefinite detention of US citizens without trial or charge into law not shockingly appauling?
The NDAA is shocking and it is appalling that it is now law, but Obama signing it wasn’t actually an impeachable offense. In that situation, Obama signed a duly-passed, but highly unconstitutional, law but he did not overstep his executive authority, commit a “high crime,” or do any other thing that can be used to justify impeachment. Signing such a law may be stupid and it may be invalidated by the courts, but a president can face no consequences for simply signing an unconstitutional law (imagine what chaos this would bring–the Supreme Court could gain the power to justify impeaching any president who disagrees with them).
Beyond that, the NDAA was a purely bipartisan action that passed through both chambers of the legislature with a super-majority–there is no way that a scandal surrounding this could gain traction.