Belmont Club

Pay any price, bear any burden

The hearing on Benghazi has made one thing abundantly clear. The Democratic Party will do whatever it takes to bury the Benghazi consulate attack issue. The chief defense against the accusations raised is that there’s nothing to see in that ‘long ago’ event which is not simply partisan and political in nature.

Everything from filibusters, administrative delays, backhanded intimidation — the works — has been thrown into the defense.  And defenders of the administration will point out that these are merely the same tactics Republicans have used in the budget and gun regulation debates and are simply being paid back in their own coin.

Yet that would be to imagine that nothing of importance is at stake. That what is at issue is mere partisan political preference, no more significant than a choice of ties or socks to be worn to a dinner party. The only response will be an appeal to substance: to right and wrong. That the battles over the budget, the Second Amendment and especially Benghazi were in fact political in the sense of ‘concerning policy’. That the Benghazi hearings are political in the best meaning of the term: not in the sense of trivial point scoring or character assassination but over genuine difference in the direction the ship of state should take.

However the distinction between what is good for Barack Obama or Hillary Clinton and the best interests of the Democratic Party has become blurred by loyalty and their immense influence in the party. The retainers are serving their lords even when it works against them.

It is in the long-term interest of the Democratic Party for their foreign policy in the Middle East to succeed, because even with the press on their side they cannot wholly escape the effects of failure.  By contrast candidates have shorter cost/benefit horizons. They only need to survive long enough to get theirs.  Once that is done their loyal serfs are left to make shift as best they can. Defending the leadership at the cost of courting a foreign policy disaster must mean that the Party will eventually hold the bag.

But anyone who thinks Hillary and Barack will reward them for their sacrifice should ask themselves how Chris Stevens fared when he pleaded for help. Can they expect better?

So the basic problem with defending Benghazi at all costs is that a political party has effectively painted itself into the corner of failure; maneuvered as it were by Darrel Issa into taking the wrong side, into reinforcing failure just to prove they can do it. They have to keep eating the broken glass if only to demonstrate that it is delicious.

Maybe they can do it. But a moment’s reflection will show it is a dumb thing to do. For there are two hearings on Benghazi; the first is taking place in Congress, which may or may not be successfully spun. But even if it could be, there’s a second hearing concurrently running in the halls of history which they have no prospect of winning. The demons that ate up Benghazi have joined  into a mighty river of chaos that is washing away national boundaries in Syria, Lebanon, Jordan and in the Kurdish regions. The Son of Benghazi is spreading chaos and destruction everywhere.

Carney can poo-pooh it all he wants. But if Benghazi proved anything it is that spin doesn’t deflect bullets. Talking points don’t douse the flames. Not when you’re in the way.

The real cost to not examining Benghazi is that it opens the way for what comes next. And there will be a next. The career risks being run by the whistle-blowers and the increasingly restive mainstream media indicates that even within the State Department and press — even among people who are risking their careers — there is a growing fear that unless the cancer is recognized to some extent it may soon be too late to avert disaster.

For now there is a tacit agreement to keep digging lest a pause draw attention to the hole. What a high price to pay to protect the careers of two forgettable politicians who will care about their retainers about as much as they cared about Benghazi. Never in the field of recent history have so many been sacrificed for so few.

The Three Conjectures at Amazon Kindle for $1.99

Storming the Castle at Amazon Kindle for $3.99

No Way In at Amazon Kindle $8.95, print $9.99

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