OpinionTop of the Ticket

Partisan political bubbles distort Benghazi facts

PoliticsBenghaziRepublican PartyUnrest, Conflicts and WarU.S. Department of StateHillary ClintonU.S. Congress

How you feel about Benghazi very likely has everything to do with your political leanings. If you think the Obama administration is covering up a scandal bigger than Watergate, you are almost certainly a Republican. If you think Republicans in Congress are simply trying to gain political advantage by exploiting the terrorist attack against the American consulate in Benghazi, Libya, last Sept. 11, you are very likely a Democrat.

A Pew Research Center poll found that 70% of Republicans believe the administration has been “dishonest” about what happened at Benghazi. Only 16% of Democrats feel the same way. But 60% of Democrats believe Republicans have “gone too far” pursuing the issue while 65% of Republicans think their party’s representatives have handled it “appropriately.”

This stark partisan divide is hardly a surprise given the sour state of American politics, but, on an issue of national security, one would wish for broader middle ground in which concern for objective facts, not political advantage, would guide people’s opinions.

The Benghazi incident has been rather thoroughly scrutinized, both in congressional hearings and by the review board co-chaired by Ambassador Thomas Pickering and Admiral Michael G. Mullen. The facts appear to be that in the chaotic aftermath of the Libyan revolution U.S. diplomats lacked adequate security to protect themselves from terrorist attacks and that, after the horrific night when the American ambassador and three other Americans were killed, the State Department and the White House massaged official talking points to avoid criticism.

Playing a public relations game with the situation does not reflect well on Hillary Rodham Clinton’s State Department or on the Obama White House. However, this game of semantics was a fairly typical example of inside-the-Beltway spin doctoring and posterior protecting. It is not nearly in the same league of monumental cover-ups of illegal acts that took place with Watergate and the Iran-Contra scandal.

And that’s the problem with the current demand by many Republicans for a special committee to be set up to investigate the Benghazi affair. That seems a pretty obvious ploy to pump up the issue for political advantage and to do as much damage as can be done to the former secretary of State, who just might be the future Democratic presidential nominee.

The House and Senate committees now handling the Benghazi probe can do a perfectly good job of getting all the facts on the table if they will just stick to that job and stop playing their own spin game with an eye on the next election.

Copyright © 2014, Los Angeles Times
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PoliticsBenghaziRepublican PartyUnrest, Conflicts and WarU.S. Department of StateHillary ClintonU.S. Congress
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