It was darkly amusing to watch Republicans go after Secretary of State Hillary Clinton in Capitol Hill hearings about the tragic fiasco in Benghazi. But the Grand Old Party's attack dogs were barking up the wrong tree.
We still have many serious questions that should be asked about the attack on the remote U.S. consulate in Benghazi that left four Americans, including Ambassador J. Christopher Stevens, dead on Sept. 11. Unfortunately, lawmakers in both parties failed to ask many.
Republicans seemed to care only about questions, no matter how flimsy, from the conservative blogosphere that might embarrass President Barack Obama's administration.
And Democrats seemed to care only about easing the former senator's seemingly unstoppable march to the 2016 Democratic presidential nomination, if she decides to pursue it.
As she knowledgeably answered or disarmed one question after another, it was easy to forget the die-hard Hillary bashers who speculated that she was afraid to face Congress over Benghazi. When she delayed her appearance for illness, a concussion and a blood clot near her brain, some of her merciless detractors still ridiculed her "the Benghazi flu" and "immaculate concussion." They probably don't believe Obama's birth certificate, either.
Afraid? When Clinton finally appeared, she looked about as frightened as a lion queen in a roomful of bunny rabbits.
For six hours in House and Senate hearings, Republicans followed the lead of Fox News, conservative websites and Mitt Romney's failed presidential campaign to press a paranoid conspiratorial narrative that crumbled even as they voiced it.
It is a narrative that unfortunately has turned valuable public attention away from urgent U.S. security concerns at our diplomatic facilities and toward statements made by United Nations Ambassador Susan Rice as she made the rounds of Sunday talk shows after the attack.
GOP lawmakers tried tirelessly to shame the Obama administration with a narrative that goes like this: Obama and his aides tried to cover-up this blemish on their counterterrorism record before the election by describing it as a protest against an anti-Muhammad YouTube video.
Of course, we know from the presidential debates that Obama already had referred to the attack as terrorism before Rice's TV appearances. Yet her foes persist. Alabama Rep. Mo Brooks, for example, misquoted Rice by omitting her caveat that the video protest scenario was the "best information that we have available to us today," and that "what we think then transpired in Benghazi is that opportunistic extremist elements came to the consulate as this was unfolding."
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