The Phenomenology of #BENGHAZI

by evanmcmurry

Pareene has good thoughts on why #BENGHAZI—the rabid conservative conglomeration of theories surrounding a series of events last September, not the city or attack it refers to—has reached the level it has, and why it won’t go much further. I’ll add two thoughts:

1. The GOP has figured out a way to deny the foreign policy bona fides Obama earned—swiped, in the Republican reading—by killing Osama bin Laden. The irrefutability of that accomplishment made 2012 very difficult for Republicans, as they just could not plausibly argue that Obama was making the world more dangerous/leaving us vulnerable to terrorism/etc. when he’d gotten the architect of 9/11 after Bush hadn’t. The right tried all manner of misdirection—accusing Obama of hogging the SEAL’s spotlight, for instance—but nothing worked. At the end of the day, Biden could, and did, say, “GE GM is alive and bin Laden is dead,” and the GOP could do nothing but stammer.

Not anymore. The GOP has convinced itself that Obama has four dead American diplomats’ blood on his hands, deaths he callously caused and cavalierly covered up. Obama is now the vain, America-hating evil mastermind the right has always known him to be. Expect any mention of the death of bin Laden to be followed by the wailing of “Benghazi” by any right winger in spitting distance. It neutralizes, at least to the FOX News audience, the killing of bin Laden, something the right has been trying to do since about two hours after the announcement of his death.

2. Nothing in any of this actually implicates Hillary Clinton in any wrongdoing, but there were clearly some failures of communication and security surrounding the consulate in Benghazi, and she’s within their radius. If Clinton runs in 2016, expect a Daily Caller or Breitbart Jr. scribe at every campaign stop asking some arcane question about some obscure #BENGHAZI detail, and expect her answers to be parsed to death in the rightwing blogosphere. Anything Clinton says on the trail that doesn’t match 100% with what she said now—or anybody’s interpretation of what she said now—will be evidence of a coverup.

Clinton is incredibly popular right now. The aura of #BENGHAZI is the first tool that right has found to chip away at the popularity. Unfortunately for the rest of us, this means that if Clinton runs, this is hardly the last we’ve heard of #BENGHAZI.

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