The GOP won't give up on Benghazi for the simple reason that any and everything no matter how big, small, trivial, or downright nutty, that even remotely allows it to slur President Obama it will race to the stars with. Benghazi is not simply the latest in the hit plan against Obama but the longest standing and most relentless of the GOP's ploys. The GOP sniffed administration blood on this from virtually the moment the first bullets were fired at the embassy. Failed GOP presidential contender Mitt Romney quickly piled on calling it "disgraceful" that Obama allegedly did not condemn the attacks but worse seemed to go out of its way to express sympathy for Arab protestors.
The race was now officially on to make the case that Obama did not just fumble the ball on the attack, but was deliberately derelict in duty, and lied to cover-up both. The hope was that by tossing enough mud on the administration's wall two months before the November presidential elections would be enough to cripple, and in a best case hope for the GOP, sink Obama's presidential reelection bid. The even more hoped for collateral benefit was that Benghazi would taint then Secretary of State Hillary Clinton enough to knock her out the box as the Presidential front runner for 2016. It did neither.
But the GOP still clung to the notion that there was enough dirt in the Benghazi fiasco to hector and gnaw at Obama. This, despite eight hearings, 30 briefings and interviews with more than 100 witnesses, and an exhaustive report from the Accountability Review Board that did find lapses in security, but nothing else. T he sole purpose of the GOP prodded dog and pony congressional hearings is to rehash the old charge that Obama covered up for his and Clinton's supposed downplay of the terrorist threat, minimized security concerns at the Benghazi and other Mid East US embassies, and ignored its own its own intelligence experts and has weakened its intelligence apparatus. Everyone, but GOP hit operatives, have found that there is no proof that Obama had conclusive evidence at the time that the attack was the handiwork of a terrorist organization, or if it was terrorist organization. As for anemic embassy security and the administration's supposed slow motion bungled response to the actual attack, GOP congressional witch hunters at first were stone silent about their relentless fight to cut funding and personnel for the very embassy security that they blame Obama for not providing the Benghazi embassy. In fiscal year 2011, lawmakers shaved $128 million off of the administration's request for embassy security funding. House Republicans drained off even more funds in fiscal year 2012 -- cutting back on the department's request by $331 million. When the finger pointed squarely at them for cutting embassy security funding, the GOP admitted it and then quickly sprinted back to its main whipping point of an alleged Obama cover-up of the attack.
The sad fact is that the Benghazi hearings are only the latest in the GOP's continuing pitiful pageant play in a bigger drama. That's to create enough public skepticism and doubt about Obama's policy and legislative initiatives, and to hopelessly cripple the White House's effectiveness. The defeat for the moment of the gun curbs in the Senate, the sniping at the immigration reform package Obama and the Senate are trying to cobble together, and the continued assault on the Affordable Care Act, are all part and parcel of the drama that the GOP hopes has one ending. That's to widen the public perception of a failed presidency that voters will take with them as campaign 2016 soon unfolds. Some in the GOP aren't content to wait for that. GOP stalking horse and talk show host Mike Huckabee typified that with the outlandish quip that Benghazi will sink the Obama administration before his term ends. Huckabee, like the other Obama GOP scalp hunters, didn't say specifically what new fact that would be uncovered about Benghazi to cause Obama to tender his resignation.
Benghazi notwithstanding, Obama's overall foreign policy successes have been too pronounced to be cavalierly dismissed as inconsequential, or ridiculed as disastrous and harmful. During the third presidential debate, Romney lightly took a stab at tarring Obama with the alleged Benghazi cover-up smear. It didn't take. He ended up agreeing more than disagreeing with Obama on several key foreign policy initiatives. This was done partly out of the necessity to appeal to the moderate center, and partly out of the fact that there was no smoking gun revelation to nail Obama with deception on Benghazi. The GOP, though, will continue to do all possible to hammer the White House with the fiction that it is directly culpable for the murderous sequence of events in Libya. It's not about Benghazi, It's about Obama.
Earl Ofari Hutchinson is an author and political analyst. He is a frequent political commentator on MSNBC and a weekly co-host of the Al Sharpton Show on American Urban Radio Network. He is the author of How Obama Governed: The Year of Crisis and Challenge. He is an associate editor of New America Media. He is the host of the weekly Hutchinson Report on KTYM-Radio and the Pacifica Network.