Consider me as confused as Terrence Jeffries. The voluble conservative gadfly let it slip on Sean Hannity's radio program today that he really doesn't know what possible motivation the Obama administration would have for altering talking points about the Benghazi terrorist attack, or in forcing Hillary Clinton to go along with a conspiracy to somehow cover up something having to do with the death of four American diplomats and intelligence officers.
A few seconds earlier, Jeffries had described a statement that went out from the U.S. embassy in Egypt attempting to calm passions amid the firefight. (He directly attributed the statement to Hillary Clinton, but hey, why let facts get in the way?) Said Jeffries: "They need to explain that Sean. They haven't done it yet. The root of it is Hillary Clinton."
Hannity isn't quite ready to move on. "I think Hillary was running interference for Obama but I'm convinced that the talking points had to go through the re-election campaign that was located in the White House."
But Jeffries must make sure that the blame lies with Hillary Clinton; the buck must stop with her, because she's going to run for president in 2016, and Jeffries needs to raise money off of her, and he needs to begin to draw a caricature of her as uncaring, unfeeling, and willing to let four Americans die rather than face up to the fact of an al Qaeda renaissance.
"I don't know the motive for why they covered up," he admitted, after Hannity tried to shift the focus back to Obama's National Security Council.
One of the reasons why Americans aren't outraged about Benghazi is that the event is a series of tragedies in search of a unifying explanation, and one that "Obama is evil" doesn't cover. Because really, to suggest that the Pentagon or the White House would deliberately — and yes, this is EXACTLY what Republicans are suggesting — prevent special operations forces from rescuing American diplomats BECAUSE they worried about the potential political blowback because they KNEW exactly who was behind it (al Qaeda) is —well, it is to suggest that Barack Obama is simply and utterly evil.
The umbrage that State Department officials who were in Libya take at the response of the bureaucracy is well-grounded. But I wonder what it feels like to have their understandable ire, their mourning and grief and anger, be harnessed to a partisan political gladiator fight that's aimed at a person who isn't even running for president yet.
So here's another absurdity. There is no way on God's warming earth that the White House could have possibly "covered up" the fact of al Qaeda involvement had it been established early on and presented as a fact by the intelligence community. Republicans got briefings, classified briefings, attesting to the evidence that al Qeada-linked militants were ready to strike. The sources for that intelligence were sensitive at the time. But no matter: The briefings were accurate. Republicans knew. And indeed, they began to speak out almost immediately. And the White House, whatever it did and didn't do, was forced to clarify very quickly what it was able to say about the incident. Where is the means and opportunity for a cover-up?
Has anyone in the intelligence community blown the whistle on anyone in the administration for pushing back against the possible al Qaeda nexus because they were worried that people would think Obama was lying about having defeated and dismantled core al Qaeda? (By the way: He did do that, and Benghazi, and Boston, aren't evidence that he didn't. He never claimed that every single person ever influenced by or given money by core al Qaeda was dead and would forever be dead. In fact, he always made sure to say the opposite. But, again, facts. I mean, they just get in the way.)
There are plenty of intelligent criticisms of Obama's foreign policy. Today's Benghazi debate is the classic example of an unintelligent, fairly easy way out of actually engaging.
THE WEEK'S AUDIOPHILE PODCASTS: LISTEN SMARTER
- How a degree from Duke University dashed my dreams of buying a home
- This is why you can't trust the NSA. Ever.
- Half the world's population lives in these 6 countries
- Why you should stop believing in evolution
- Innocent before proven guilty? The bizarre bipartisan rush to clear Rick Perry
- What Keeping Up with the Kardashians can teach America about interracial marriage
- The single best way to help your kid succeed at school
- Today in history: Lincoln reveals the real goal of the Civil War
- ISIS and the echoes of the West's religious terror
- This 1,600-year-old Viking war game is still awesome
Subscribe to the Week