in Kulturkampf

Benghazi Is Not A Tom Clancy Novel

On CNN yesterday, Rep. Jason Chaffetz (R-UT) expressed dissonant disapproval of the president’s failure to teleport reinforcements to the US consulate in Benghazi. You have to admire the way he twists reality here:

Look, we have to make priorities and choices in this country. We have — think about this — 15,000 contractors in Iraq. We have more than 6,000 contractors, private army there for President Obama in Baghdad.

And we’re talking about can we get two dozen or so people into Libya to help protect our forces? When you’re in tough economic times, you have to make difficult choices how to prioritize this.

The evil genius of that first paragraph is that the vastly-diminished American footprint in Iraq becomes a “private army” (like dictators have, see? Wink, wink) while bemoaning America’s minimal operational footprint in Libya (‘why are we not dictating to the Libyans?!’). That spin and smoke helps rationalize the monumental hypocrisy and incoherence of his next two sentences.

Chaffetz dismisses Republican cuts to the nation’s diplomatic budget as a “difficult choice” and denies any party responsibility for diminished consular security. That’s because the man has never had to organize a quick reaction force before, much less arrange protective details in a conflict zone. He imagines these things are easy, that they don’t involve spending any money, and that presidential willpower can bend the limits of machinery to speed up a rescue.

The Republican Party has systematically downsized, declawed, and defunded the State Department for a generation. Beginning with the wave of 1994 and the ensuing efforts of Jesse Helms to close American embassies, a new wave of John Bircher-style paranoia about global conspiracies against the United States — and deliberate, proud ignorance of the world — built up within the conservative movement.

That wave crested with the the 2010 midterms, but the tide remains deep. Because it has been thoroughly steeped in that toxic stew of paranoid bullshit, the conservative imagination has Obama withholding or delaying reinforcements for the consulate because… Well, it’s all assumed, isn’t it? He’s the bowing, apologizing, neocolonial appeaser-in-chief who wants to destroy America.

It all makes sense as an epic thriller where Tom Clancy rips off The Boys From Brazil, which is why Chaffetz talks as if he read about Benghazi in a novel. For deliberate ignorance, he has no better model than John McCain skipping committee meetings about Benghazi to hold a press conference complaining about the lack of information on Benghazi.

These are not people who want the truth; they already have a ‘truth,’ and so they demand to see only that ‘proof’ which confirms it. They are children demanding that daddy tell the story right.

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