Credibility problem: On these big things, politics’ right wing got it wrong
by The Anniston Star Editorial Board
Nov 29, 2012 | 2903 views |  0 comments | 10 10 recommendations | email to a friend | print
Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz., Sen. Kelly Ayotte, R-N.H., and Sen. Lindsey Graham, R-S.C., speak on Capitol Hill Tuesday following a meeting with UN Ambassador Susan Rice. (AP Photo/Susan Walsh)
Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz., Sen. Kelly Ayotte, R-N.H., and Sen. Lindsey Graham, R-S.C., speak on Capitol Hill Tuesday following a meeting with UN Ambassador Susan Rice. (AP Photo/Susan Walsh)
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Iraq had to be preemptively invaded to neutralize the vast stores of chemical and biological weapons at Saddam Hussein’s disposal.

The Bush administration tax cuts of 2001 and 2003 mixed with a hands-off approach to regulating massive financial institutions would send the economy soaring.

By this time in late November, Mitt Romney would be preparing for inauguration as the 45th president of the United States. His landslide victory this November was virtually guaranteed.

Clearly, the right wing of U.S. politics made up of elected Republicans in Washington and their supporters in the conservative media have a credibility problem. On these really big things, they got it wrong. No weapons of mass destruction were found in Iraq. The great recession of 2008 exposed the Republican economic dogma expressed earlier in the decade as hope more than reality. And Romney lost by a larger margin than the hapless John Kerry did in 2004.

Now many of the same voices are trying to score cheap political points over a tragedy at a U.S. consulate in Libya. On Sept. 11, the U.S. diplomatic compound in Benghazi was attacked by what reliable reports say was more than 100 gunmen. The fighting left four Americans dead, including Christopher Stevens, the U.S. ambassador to Libya. It was the first death of a serving U.S. ambassador in more than 20 years.

The Obama administration, which bears the primary responsibility for protecting U.S. diplomats, took several steps. The president condemned the acts while his administration ordered beefed up security for all U.S. diplomatic missions that could face a similar attack. In a promising move, the new Libyan government installed in the wake of the Arab Spring decried the senseless attack by supposed members of an armed militia. As many as 30,000 Libyans took to the streets to join with the United States in calling out these acts of violence.

The main unanswered questions deal with causes and motivations. Did U.S. intelligence agencies miss signals that an attack was looming? Did administration officials slip up in protecting the Benghazi consulate? These are the prime questions going forward.

Instead, the same conservatives who so whiffed on WMD, Romney and laissez-faire economics are telling us that the most important facet of this tragedy is what the U.S. ambassador to the United Nations said on the Sunday morning talk shows following the incident.

What did Ambassador Susan Rice know and when did she know it, is the line from Republican congressmen? Rice and White House officials say her initial explanations — that the assault may have been sparked by an anti-Islam video — were the best guesses of U.S. intelligence agencies in the aftermath of the armed raid in Benghazi. Neat and tidy answers are often difficult to locate immediately after a chaotic battle. This is serious, but not as serious, say, as an administration cooking up the books to falsely justify invading Iraq.

Still, there’s an important matter here. In order to decrease the likelihood of future attacks, the United States should seek to discover how the consulate attack came about. That, however, appears only a side note for Republican Sens. John McCain, Lindsey Graham and Kelly Ayote, who are more concerned with Rice’s remarks made on television immediately after the U.S. deaths.

These longtime politicians are putting on a little show, acting surprised that administrations equip surrogates such as Rice with talking points before making public appearances, and that these talking points put the administration in the best possible light. Is anyone honestly surprised at this?

The Obama administration owes more complete answers as to what happened on Sept. 11, 2012, in Benghazi. However, we expect those desperately searching for a full-blown scandal to tie around the president’s neck will be disappointed with what they learn.
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