It is one of the greatest indictments of today’s poisonous political environment that Congressional Democrats and Republicans cannot even come together to investigate the murders of four American citizens, including a U.S. Ambassador, in Benghazi, Libya.
One doesn’t have to be too old to remember a time when Democrats and Republicans put aside narrow partisan interests to present a united position on foreign policy and national security. These days, the Speaker of the House of Representatives, upon announcing the formation of a new select committee tasked with investigating the 2012 murders in Libya, had to immediately defend himself against Democratic portrayals of the Committee as a partisan stunt.
“This is all about getting to the truth. It's not going to be a sideshow,” Boehner insisted. “It's not going to be a circus. This is a serious investigation.”
Yet even as the Speaker was denying that the circus was in town, the calliope at the Congressional Republicans’ campaign headquarters was already beginning to play while workers pitched tents and laid down sawdust.
The carnival barker was at the top of the National Republican Congressional Committee’s website, inviting the passing rubes to sign up to become “Benghazi Watchdogs.”
“Help fight liberals by donating today!” the NRCC’s website screamed.
Once users poked their heads into the NRCC’s tent, they got to hear the pitch: “You’re now a Benghazi Watchdog” the user is told. “Let’s go after Obama and Hillary Clinton. Help us fight them now.” The inevitable request to donate came next.
It was a shameless, tin-eared exploitation of human tragedy and national embarrassment, a self-imposed foul that played right into Democrats’ portrayal of the Select Committee investigation as a partisan witch hunt.
As a practical matter, it diverted the nation’s attention from the real issues here: the murders of four U.S. citizens, including a U.S. Ambassador, in a very dangerous place at a very sensitive time and the apparent dissimulation by the government in explaining the murders.