In mid-September, Sen. McCain took Sean Hannity and Fox News in general to task for their bad reporting on Libya: "It was you and people on Fox that said in Libya, "We didn't know who they were and let's not help these people".' They had an election and they elected moderates. They rejected Islamists. And yes, there are al-Qaida factors and there are extremists in Libya today, but the Libyan people are friends of ours, and they support us, and they support democracy. So you were wrong about -- so you were wrong about Libya."
For Republicans, reaction to the Benghazi attack began in bad faith on September 11, when Mitt Romney opportunistically misrepresented the American response in Egypt to local unrest there due to the 14-minute Islamophobic video that had been translated into Arabic and shown on Egyptian television. Partisan Republicans have tried to make a political issue of the Benghazi attack ever since.
How Is Benghazi Worse That Watergate?
One line of attack has been to portray the Obama Administration's curiously inconsistent statements about Benghazi as some kind of a cover-up that's somehow worse than Watergate. Sean Hannity launched the cover-up meme on September 20 on Fox News, without explaining exactly what was being covered up or why, just that it would somehow help the President's re-election, presumably the way the Watergate cover-up helped Richard Nixon's re-election in 1972.
No one has explained the Watergate meme coherently since it began, including Sen. McCain on CBS, who slipped the smear in with a sleazy touch of indirection: "You know, somebody the other day said to me this is as bad as Watergate. Well, nobody died in Watergate. But this is either a massive cover-up or incompetence that is not acceptable service to the American people."
Another line of Republican attack has been to assert that the U.S. could have made an effective military response to the Benghazi attack while it was happening, but chose for some unexplained reason not to do so. There is no evidence that this is true.
The charge is not credible for several reasons, including:
- Libyan reinforcements arrived during the early fighting;
- The first fight lasted about two hours, too brief for the nearest American forces to get there;