Not Nixonian

Ken AshfordObama Opposition, Political ScandalsLeave a Comment

James Warren offered up some good perspective on "Benghazi!" yesterday.  He concluded with this:

Though Stevens was an admired former Lugar staffer, Lugar has neither condoned nor condemned U.S. actions in response to the Benghazi attack. And a former Republican staffer on that committee underscored his own bottom line: "This is not Iran-Contra," he said, alluding to the bonafide Reagan era scandal in which secret arms sales to Iran were used to fund anti-communist rebels in Nicaragua.

"These were people here in a dangerous position trying to do the best they could," said the former staffer. "There were probably real communications issues. Rice knew when going on air this all didn't add up. In retrospect she should have simply said, 'It simply wasn't clear what was happening.' That would have taken care of it."

Team Obama fumbled. And Republicans saw an opportunity to diminish Obama and Clinton. It was a twofer, with Benghazi serving as a potential real-time version of the nastily effective "Swift Boat" attacks on Democratic presidential candidate John Kerry in 2004.

But it's not having that same impact, and thus it's folly to think this hurts Clinton's chances if she chooses to run. Tom Bowen, a shrewd Democratic consultant in Chicago, says, "The idea that one of the most popular secretaries of state to serve this country will be damaged by revisions of 'talking points' is foolhardy."

Yes, four Americans killed in a terrorist attack is nothing to be flip about. But voters by and large understand that the world is a dangerous place — and there are plenty of narratives that fall far short of being deemed Nixonian