It kind of makes sense in a twisted, cynical sort of way that Speaker John Boehner's newly ordained House Select Committee on Benghazi is stacked with seven Republicans and only five Democrats. The newly resurgent outrage over Benghazi is obviously meant to be a crowd-pleaser for the midterm base rather than a noble investigative endeavor, so why not give the apoplectic rage-aholics a lopsided committee majority -- it only serves to underscore the crass, opportunistic nature of the whole thing.
Frankly, I tend to agree with the growing popular wisdom that the Democrats should boycott the committee. Giving the GOP unfettered time to screech and flail on their bouncy hobby-horses will only make the whole thing seem like the buffoonish grabassery it really is, while telegraphing to voters that the House Republicans have nothing better to do with taxpayer money than to re-litigate an event that's been investigated numerous times already, and to do so in order to score political points. (This is one of the reasons why I was vocally opposed to the idea of a Bush impeachment investigation back when the Democrats took over the House in 2007. Voters want Congress to work for them -- not to use its platform to settle political beefs.)
So here we are. The Republicans are very clearly using their majority to bake up a controversy where it simply doesn't exist.
I for one am looking forward to observing testimony after testimony in which administration officials repeat the very obvious reality that Deputy National Security Adviser Ben Rhodes' talking points for then-U.N. Ambassador Susan Rice, acquired last week by Birther Larry Klayman's Judicial Watch (!!!), were merely reflecting the CIA's analysis of what precipitated the attack on the U.S. consulate there. Yet for the purposes of creating a politically-motivated House Select Committee, Boehner and the House Republicans are hoping no one mentions it -- over and over and over while on television.
Seriously, this the actual reason for the formation of the committee: Rhodes' talking points which included one that mentions how the attack grew spontaneously out of protests over an incendiary online documentary critical of Islam, based upon an analysis the CIA provided to the administration. The GOP seems to have forgotten about the CIA's assessment -- that or they're still trying to mislead voters into thinking the administration fabricated the "spontaneous attack" conclusion to cover its ass just before an election, when in fact it was merely conveying the CIA's assessment.
We believe based on currently available information that the attacks in Benghazi were spontaneously inspired by the protests at the U.S. Embassy in Cairo and evolved into a direct assault against the U.S. consulate and subsequently its annex.
The protests were in direct response to the online video. Here's the talking point written by Ben Rhodes:
To underscore that these protests are rooting in an Internet video, and not a broader failure of policy.
Here's what Susan Rice said on ABC's This Week:
Our current best assessment, based on the information that we have at present, is that, in fact, what this began as, it was a spontaneous -- not a premeditated -- response to what had transpired in Cairo. In Cairo, as you know, a few hours earlier, there was a violent protest that was undertaken in reaction to this very offensive video that was disseminated.
So... WTF? Where's the controversy again? Rice's remarks were close if not paraphrased from the CIA's analysis.
Now, there are a couple of minor things worth discussing. First of all, yes, it was a mistake for the administration to not have turned over the Rhodes e-mail during prior investigations. It was hilarious, though, to read Boehner's Select Committee announcement which included remarks about the administration's failure to turn over the e-mail -- during prior investigations. Thanks for accidentally reminding the world that Benghazi has been investigated numerous times before, Mr. Speaker. Smart.
Secondly, the Republicans are fuming over the fact that the Rhodes talking points contained political advice such as noting that Rice should highlight "the President and Administration's strength and steadiness in dealing with difficult challenges." News flash: Rhodes' job is to help shape the administration's message and its optics for political impact. Perhaps the administration didn't think an e-mail with talking points was germane to the investigation. Who knows. Suffice to say, failing to turn over a talking points e-mail isn't an impeachable offense or worthy of a House Select Committee investigation, nor does it really have anything to do with the Oval Office.
And so for this the Republicans have created their very first House Select Committee since taking over in January, 2011 -- simply because the midterms are coming up and they'd like to go brag to their voters back home that they're sticking it to Demon Obama on Benghazi. By the way, to put the rare nature of House Select Committees into perspective, there aren't any others right now, except for the Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence, also known more generally as the Intelligence Committee.
Again, I seriously can't wait to see seven Republicans, and seven Republicans alone without a Democrat in sight (hopefully), dance around the true fact that the CIA gave the White House an analysis in preparation for the Sunday shows, and Susan Rice repeated that analysis -- followed by the sound of crickets chirping. It's going to be one big clown show that will be made even more clownish if, say, Rep. Louie Gohmert (R-TX) is appointed. Fingers crossed.