I was in the odd position of being able to watch a sizable chunk of Hillary Clinton’s appearance before the House committee investigating BENGHAZI! If you wondered what was the big deal before the hearing, you were even more in the dark after it.
For 11 hours, Republicans grilled Hillary Clinton about all sorts of ephemera, trivialities and tangents. We heard a lot about some guy named Sidney Blumenthal, one Republican went so far as to ask if the US Ambassador to Libya had Hillary’s home address, email, fax and cell numbers. Another Republican asked if Hillary had been home alone all night after the attack (the answer is yes). The promised revelations of nefarious wrongdoing never emerged. At the end of the hearing, the Republicans looked foolish, Hillary looked presidential and we knew nothing about the attack on the US consulate in Benghazi that we did not know before.
The hearings made several other things abundantly clear.
- Republicans are convinced that someone did something nefarious that resulted in the deaths in Benghazi and that something was deliberate, intentional and malicious.
- Republicans have no idea what that nefarious action actually was.
- Republicans aren’t sure who did the nefarious thing that resulted in the deaths of four Americans in Benghazi.
- Republicans have decided that the absence of any evidence of wrongdoing is proof of a successful conspiracy to do something nefarious and further investigation must, of necessity, unveil that nefarious action and the person behind it.
- Hillary Clinton drives the Republicans completely and totally crazy.
Conservatives are convinced that Jim Jordan’s line of questioning was a “bombshell” that blew apart Hillary’s testimony. But they’re the only ones. Jordan read an email of Hillary’s to her daughter that said something like “some people are saying this attack was motivated by angry response to a youtube video demeaning muslims but we believe it is a terrorist attack.” Somehow that obvious statement has become proof of a conspiracy to mislead America.
In the fever swamps of the American right, the story goes something like this: while the attack on the consulate was still happening, the Obama administration, in cahoots with Hillary Clinton, spread a false story about the attacks in an attempt to win the 2012 election which Obama should have lost any way. This false story is of monumental importance because, without it, Barack Obama would have been revealed to be a simpering, weak president and manly man Mitt Romney would have crushed him in the election. And, besides, the whole attack on the US Consulate in Benghazi was the result of a nefarious, secret conspiracy that somehow resulted because of deliberate wrongdoing on the part of the Obama administration. If it doesn’t make sense, that’s okay because it’s not really supposed to. The lynch pin of the conservative theory of Benghazi is missing because in the real world it does not exist and in conservative world it has yet to be found.
Conservative politicians have done such a good job of convincing conservative voters that Hillary Clinton is a master at the arts of lying, deception, dishonesty and the dark arts of politics that those same politicians are now facing the impossible task of figuring out how to get out of a trap of their own making. A story at Vox describes Benghazi as a political version of the classic prisoner’s dilemma. Conservative activists and voters simply will not and cannot accept the assertion that Hillary didn’t do something wrong. They support conservative politicians who promise to get to the bottom of the conspiracy. Conservatives who don’t promise to get to the bottom of the conspiracy find themselves facing furious conservative voters and activists until they at long last promise to get the bottom of the conspiracy. Lather, rinse, repeat.