Huckabee: Benghazi will Take Down the President (Worse than Watergate!)

Apparently, Benghazi has not faded (at least not for some).

Via Politico:  Huckabee: Benghazi will drive Obama from office

“I believe that before it’s all over, this president will not fill out his full term. I know that puts me on a limb,” the former Arkansas governor said on “The Mike Huckabee Show.” “But this is not minor. It wasn’t minor when Richard Nixon lied to the American people and worked with those in his administration to cover-up what really happened in Watergate. But, I remind you — as bad as Watergate was, because it broke the trust between the president and the people, no one died. This is more serious because four Americans did in fact die.”

First, he is not out on a limb insofar as he is telling his audience what they want to here.

Second, this is not a new formulation (i.e, people died, hence it is worse than Watergate).  However, the unfortunate fact is that a lot of American have died due to the failure of the government to prevent it for whatever reason (see:  9/11) or have died because of poor policy choices in the context of dubious public claims by presidents (see:   Viet Nam and Iraq).  Beyond that, I do not have time to list all of the cases of Americans, diplomats included, who have died during given presidential terms.

Really, the deployment of “Watergate” in a political conversation is done for the same reason people use “fascist” or “Nazi”:  it is synonymous with “bad” even if the user of the word uses it imprecisely and if the listener really doesn’t know a full definition of the term in question.  Most people almost certainly do not know the details of the Watergate scandal, but they know that a) it is considered the worse political scandal of all time (at least that anyone can remember), and b) it eventually let to Richard “Tricky Dick” NIxon’s,  he of “I am not a crook” fame, resignation.   What more do you need to know?

And if Banghazi is worse than all that, well it must  be pretty horrible, yes?

 

But, does Huckabee actually believe all this?  Probably not, but it makes for a nice political issue for 2014:

Huckabee, however, said his predication about Obama “will not happen” if the Democrats seize control of the House and retain control of the Senate next year.

“If they’re able to get control of the House and maintain the Senate, this will not happen because they won’t let it happen,” Huckabee said.

“And they won’t let it happen not because they’re protecting just the president, they’re trying to protect their entire political party. If they try to protect the president and their party, and do so at the expense of the truth, their president and their party will go down. Now, here’s what I’m going to suggest will happen — as the information and facts begin to come out, it will become so obvious that there was a concerted and very, very deliberate attempt to mislead this country and its people to lie to Congress, as well as to you.”

In other words:  in case Republicans voters need a reason to be motivated to vote in the mid-terms, here it is.

Just in terms of rational discourse, the following is maddening:

“When a president lies to the American people and is part of a cover-up, he cannot continue to govern,” Huckabee said. “And as the facts come out, I think we’re going to see something startling. And before it’s over, I don’t think this president will finish his term unless somehow they can delay it in Congress past the next three and a half years.”

Here’s the maddening part:  it asserts that a) the truth is not out, but b) that the speaker somehow has special knowledge about said truth.  However, there is a) no evidence that the truth is not out, and b) the speaker is just making unsubstantiated claims.  If the speaker, in fact, has access to unrevealed truth that would support the assertions in question, then the speaker should provide said evidence.  And yet, there is no evidence, there is just assertion.

Beyond that:  I have never had any one provide a clear explanation of what the precise lies are supposed to have been in regards to these events.  It just seems to me that if one is going to claims that there are “lies” and a “cover-up” (especially one of such gravity that it can bring down a president) that one ought to have some idea as to have was lied about and what was covered up.

And yes, I know that there is new testimony in the news from Gregory Hicks (as Doug Mataconis has already noted) that is going to bring the story back to the forefront (CBS:  Diplomat: U.S. Special Forces told “you can’t go” to Benghazi during attacks):

According to excerpts released Monday, Hicks told investigators that SOCAFRICA commander Lt. Col. Gibson and his team were on their way to board a C-130 from Tripoli for Benghazi prior to an attack on a second U.S. compound “when [Col. Gibson] got a phone call from SOCAFRICA which said, ‘you can’t go now, you don’t have the authority to go now.’ And so they missed the flight … They were told not to board the flight, so they missed it.”

[…]

Hicks told congressional investigators that if the U.S. had quickly sent a military aircraft over Benghazi, it might have saved American lives. The U.S. Souda Bay Naval Base is an hour’s flight from Libya.

“I believe if we had been able to scramble a fighter or aircraft or two over Benghazi as quickly as possible after the attack commenced, I believe there would not have been a mortar attack on the annex in the morning because I believe the Libyans would have split. They would have been scared to death that we would have gotten a laser on them and killed them,” Hicks testified.

Now, would I like to hear more about the assertion concerning Gibson?  Sure.  Does this sound like the kind of thing that brings down a President?  Not so much.  I am not even sure we have anything that resembles a scandal here.

In regards to the aircraft issue:  that is just Hicks’ opinion and nothing more.  It may well be true, but it is hardly the basis of a scandal.

Also, Jonathan Bernstein makes an excellent point (The real Benghazi story: The dogs that aren’t barking):

What’s a shame is that while there may not be any real massive conspiracies and cover-ups, there very well may be real instances of administration errors and worse throughout the government. There always are! But uncovering them requires hard work, and might only turn up low-level malfeasance in agencies that most Fox News viewers have never heard of and don’t care about. So House Republicans, who have the position to investigate real wrongdoing, don’t bother. Finding out that some low-level appointee did something real but relatively minor might result in better government, but it’s not guaranteed to get mentioned by all the conservative talk radio hosts. So: Benghazi, Benghazi, Benghazi, and never mind whether the government is actually functioning properly or not.

Indeed.  I would be quite supportive of a Congress that actually took its oversight responsibilities seriously.

FILED UNDER: US Politics
Steven L. Taylor
About Steven L. Taylor
Steven L. Taylor is a Professor of Political Science and a College of Arts and Sciences Dean. His main areas of expertise include parties, elections, and the institutional design of democracies. His most recent book is the co-authored A Different Democracy: American Government in a 31-Country Perspective. He earned his Ph.D. from the University of Texas and his BA from the University of California, Irvine. He has been blogging since 2003 (originally at the now defunct Poliblog). Follow Steven on Twitter

Comments

  1. Ben says:

    It wasn’t minor when Richard Nixon lied to the American people and worked with those in his administration to cover-up what really happened in Watergate. But, I remind you — as bad as Watergate was, because it broke the trust between the president and the people, no one died. This is more serious because four Americans did in fact die.

    How many people died in Iraq because the Bush administration lied to the American people? A hell of a lot more than 4.

  2. C. Clavin says:

    Huckabee is a foolish little zealot, is he not?

  3. john personna says:

    The set of people who might tune into Huckabee, and the set of people who want to grind their teeth on Benghazi, are near-identical. And so, it’s a slam dunk.

  4. OzarkHillbilly says:

    I was going to link to the Bernstein piece but you beat me to it :-D.

    Finding out that some low-level appointee did something real but relatively minor might result in better government,

    Here is the tell, the GOP is not interested in anything that makes government work better, only in things that stop it from working at all (except for the handing out of wads of taxpayer cash to the Defense and Oil industries, that is)

  5. Caj says:

    Mike Huckabee and others wish! Pity they weren’t so keen to have an investigation over the war in Iraq which was based on lies! Issa must dream about what investigation he can bring up next! No matter what comes out of any further information it will NEVER satisfy those on the right. Especially if it’s not what they want to hear as they want something, anything to pin on President Obama. That’s how sad and a pathetic party they are!!

  6. mantis says:

    Here’s the maddening part: it asserts that a) the truth is not out, but b) that the speaker somehow has special knowledge about said truth. However, there is a) no evidence that the truth is not out, and b) the speaker is just making unsubstantiated claims.

    For Republicans these days, unsubstantiated claims are the truth. An assertion becomes fact immediately if it seen as having the potential to damage the president (or any democrat). When you ask them to explain the details they just repeat the assertion, ad nauseam.

  7. Ebenezer_Arvigenius says:

    How many people died in Iraq because the Bush administration lied to the American people? A hell of a lot more than 4.

    And that matters how? If there were errors causing significant grief they should be investigated. Using “but they started it” / “did it more” on everything is just childish partisan nonsense.

  8. john personna says:

    @Ebenezer_Arvigenius:

    Of course it matters. It is allocation of attention and focus.

    One simply does not allocate rational attention on the smallest problems, especially when that concentration is unhealthy to the human mind.

  9. john personna says:

    Related:

    Slovic, P., Zionts, D., Woods, A., Goodman, R., & Jinks, D. (2011). Psychic Numbing and Mass Atrocity. In Shafir, E. (ed.), The Behavioral Foundations Of Policy (11-56).

  10. mantis says:

    @Ebenezer_Arvigenius:

    And that matters how?

    It’s a response to the assertion that because people died, this is a crime on the part of the president worse than the Watergate break-in (ignore that they can name no actual crime on the part of Americans or the president in Benghazi).

    If that is the case, then Abraham Lincoln is probably the worst criminal president we ever had, since decisions he made led to more American deaths than any other president. I guess.

  11. anjin-san says:

    @ Ebenezer_Arvigenius

    And that matters how?

    Because it’s clear conservatives don’t really care about what happened at Benghazi, beyond the possibility that it might be a weapon to use against Obama. Sort of like they did not care about deficits until Obama was President. The Benghazi outcry from the right is no more than “childish partisan nonsense” and hysterical low information types that have been whipped into a froth by Fox News.

  12. matt bernius says:

    I would ask, to any conservative commentator who wishes to contest Steven’s analysis, can you provide answers to two simple questions…

    1. What illegal action is the US Government supposed to have taken in this case?
    2. What evidence is there of a coverup — either legal or illegal — of that initial action?

    Seriously addressing either of those points would go a long way to proving that you have a case. Otherwise, please explain why we should takes claims that “we don’t know what we don’t know” on this topic any more seriously than the claims of 9/11 Truthers?

  13. beth says:

    I don’t think the Republicans really give a damn about finding out any kind of truth on this. This is a shot across the bow of Hillary Clinton; just something more to bring up when she runs in 2016. What, you thought they’d go back to talking about Whitewater?

  14. Moosebreath says:

    Jon Chait predicted it first. If Obama is re-elected, Republicans will find some reason to impeach him. Benghazi sure looks like it is shaping up to be the reason.

  15. wr says:

    @matt bernius: “1. What illegal action is the US Government supposed to have taken in this case?
    2. What evidence is there of a coverup — either legal or illegal — of that initial action?”

    But you see, you’ve answered your own question. The fact that no one knows what illegal action the US Government took is not only evidence but proof of a massive coverup. Because if there hadn’t been a coverup, we’d all know about the crimes.

    And if that doesn’t make any sense to you, well, you’re not watching enough Fox.

  16. Caj says:

    @Moosebreath:

    Impeach Obama! For what? I don’t think you can impeach a President just because you can’t stand him!! Republicans are grasping at straws. If anyone should have been impeached it was George Bush!!!

  17. Dazedandconfused says:

    My prediction is the Committee will demand all of Hillary’s e-mails.

  18. Neil Hudelson says:

    @Caj:

    Caj, you are just repeating Moosebreath’s point.

    And can we stop, in general, with the “Bush should have been impeached” messages? Maybe he should have, but he’s out of office now so its a fairly moot point.

  19. mantis says:

    @Caj:

    I don’t think you can impeach a President just because you can’t stand him!

    Congress can do exactly that if they so voted. Just ask Andrew Johnson.

  20. Pharoah Narim says:

    What a croc. Libya is part of the AOR owned by AFRICOM. If forces were denied permission to undertake operations there–it was the AFRICOM Commanders call. Has anyone seen Blackhawk down where an elite team was inserted in the middle of a hostile city? The aftermath of that was “where was the heavy support?” “Why couldn’t we get help to them?” etc, etc. These same clowns would be asking those same questions had that team boarded that plane and been dropped off for mission they aren’t built for. Commandos are built for stealth and surprise, once that’s compromised they are vulnerable– without a huge tail of air support. Short of getting a regular army or marine company there–it wouldn’t have changed the outcome much. Huckabee is an azz puppet.

  21. Moosebreath says:

    @Neil Hudelson:

    “Caj, you are just repeating Moosebreath’s point.”

    Yes.

    “And can we stop, in general, with the “Bush should have been impeached” messages?”

    This I am less sure of. If Clinton and Obama both end up being impeached for lesser offenses than Bush and Reagan committed, then my suspicion is that all bets will be off next time there is a Republican President and a Democratic House.

  22. john personna says:

    @this:

    Dear idiot downvoters, did you read that paper?

  23. fred says:

    Nutcase Preacher Huckabee and Fox News crowd are in some sort of dreamland where reality does not reside. What American morons.

  24. Dazedandconfused says:

    One of the witnesses is “Mark Thompson”, who Issa touted as “Deputy Assistant Secretary for Counter Terrorism”. That position isn’t listed, but there is a Mark Thompson listed as “Deputy Coordinator for Operations”

    http://www.state.gov/documents/organization/112065.pdf

    (page 16)

    Odd little fib.

  25. stonetools says:

    I don’t know whether to laugh or cry that a major political party is wasting their time, money, and political capital on this nonsense. Oh well, if this is the best the Republican Party can muster , there should be happy days ahead for the Democrats.

  26. JohnMcC says:

    @john personna: Shorter version of that paper: ‘One death is a tragedy; a million deaths is a statistic.” Which by the way is usually attrituted to Joe Stalin but upon using Mr Google’s machine to verify that, I see has a murkier past.

  27. michael reynolds says:

    Republicans are terrified. They’re cornered animals, sensing that death is near. They writhe and hiss and paw at the air. Eight years of a successful black man followed quite likely by eight years of the first woman president? The party of old white guys is scared and should be.

  28. MikeSJ says:

    In the past I thought people like Huckabee were borderline deranged loons…until I realized he and those like him make an awful lot more money than I do by spewing out this nonsense.

    I still think what he’s doing – lying, inciting ignorant gullable people is terrible but a part of me has to give credit where credit is due – the man knows how to fleece a rube…

  29. john personna says:

    @JohnMcC:

    Certainly, which perhaps is why four deaths, with photos, and life stories, are more evocative than four thousand.

    Perhaps the thousands of deaths are (irrationally) perceived as “unstoppable” in Iraq, and “too big,” whereas the smaller number (irrationally) seems easier in retrospect.

    Still we should try to focus our attention on the big problems, and not be seduced by seemingly simpler and more manageable narratives.

  30. OzarkHillbilly says:

    @john personna: Certainly, which perhaps is why four deaths, with photos, and life stories, are more evocative than four thousand. 26 deaths with photos and life stories.

    FTFY, John. And that is all we nedd to know about today’s GOP.

  31. Kylopod says:

    Back in 1996, when I was still in my teens, my father, a lifelong liberal and avid Clinton supporter, admitted he wasn’t sure Clinton would complete his second term; he wondered if Republicans might find something that could bring him down.

    I have no such fear about Obama. Even if Republicans gain control of the Senate next year, there’s no way they’d get two-thirds of that chamber to vote to remove him from office, unless they truly uncovered serious law-breaking on his part. And I haven’t seen one iota of evidence that a scandal of that gravity is on the horizon.

    What I have seen from the time Obama took office is that Republicans have been scrambling for any excuse to say Obama should be impeached. Remember Fast and Furious? Or better yet–does anyone remember Sestak-gate? That one actually had Rep. Issa describing it as “Obama’s Watergate.” In fact, just type that phrase into Google–“Obama’s Watergate”–and you’ll get a quick history lesson in GOP delusion during the Obama era.

    Note that I said Republicans are scrambling for any excuse to “say” Obama should be impeached. That’s just about all they seem interested in doing. Actually going ahead and impeaching him would be too much of a bother for most of them. Just talking about doing it constitutes the entire ritual. It’s all one big, pathetic, cathartic exercise they can’t get enough of.

  32. Mr. Replica says:

    This stuff is hilarious. Huck wants publicity, he is getting publicity. All in hopes of getting a better contract.

  33. Jenos Idanian #13 says:

    The attack happened on a Tuesday.

    By Wednesday, all parties concerned pretty much knew it was a terrorist attack, not a riot inspired by a YouTube video — including the Libyan government and the Acting Ambassador to Libya.

    Through the weekend, top Obama administration officials — specifically UN Ambassador Susan Rice and Secretary of State Hillary Clinton — were repeating as fact that the attack had been inspired by a YouTube video.

    That they lied is simply not up for debate. That four Americans — including an Ambassador — were assassinated by terrorists is not up to debate.

    And, apparently, what is not also up to debate is that Democrats are more interested in playing their partisan games and keeping up their blind party loyalty than finding out why they lied, and what they thought they’d be protecting by lying.

  34. @Jenos Idanian #13: Since all of this is known, and has been known for months, what is the cover-up? We’ve been over the details you have listed here numerous times.

    How can something that is widely know be a cover-up?

  35. ernieyeball says:

    @Steven L. Taylor: How can something that is widely know be a cover-up?

    What is covered up is his head firmly planted in his anal cavity.

  36. anjin-san says:

    @ Steven L. Taylor

    Look, some hot chicks in really short skirts on Fox say there was a cover up.

    It’s a fact, Jack.

  37. Jenos Idanian #13 says:

    @Steven L. Taylor: I guess I’ll repeat myself: the Obama administration started the coverup the very next day, and pushed it for at least a week when they knew that it was a terrorist attack and kept denying it, to the point of tossing one dumb bastard in jail for his YouTube video.

  38. OzarkHillbilly says:

    @Jenos Idanian #13: The attack happened on a Tuesday. School day.

    By Wednesday, the next day all parties concerned pretty much knew it was a terrorist attack the act of a lone whacko with access to guns, not a riot inspired by a YouTube video — including the Libyan government and the Acting Ambassador to Libya. NRA.

    Through the weekend, top Obama administration officials GOPofficials — specifically UN Ambassador Susan Rice and Secretary of State Hillary Clinton Majority leader Eric Kantor and House Speaker John Boehner — were repeating as fact that the attack had been inspired by a YouTube video was an isolated incident committed by a lone madman.

    That they lied is simply not up for debate. That four 26 Americans — including an Ambassador 20 children — were assassinated by terrorists an asshole with guns is not up to debate.

    And, apparently, what is not also up to debate is that Democrats Republicans are more interested in playing their partisan games and we can not discuss reasonable gun regulation policies in this country and because the GOP is more interested in keeping up their blind party loyalty than finding out why they lied people die needlessly, and what they thought they’d be protecting by lying.

    You see how easy it is to turn your paranoid fantasies around, idgit? The real tell is the very last sentence. Just exactly who are the NRA protecting? Here is a clue: not your average everyday gun owner. They could not give a rat’s ass about that guy.

  39. @Jenos Idanian #13: And, of course, the fact that they have long since acknowledged it was a terrorist attack and that the video was not the driver of events is immaterial in your mind, I take it?

    The fact these issues have not been in serious controversy since almost immediately is proof of a massive conspiracy in your mind? I am unclear on how these assertions are supposed to translate into an argument to be taken seriously.

  40. matt bernius says:

    @Steven L. Taylor:

    How can something that is widely know be a cover-up?

    Beyond that, that, there’s a bigger issue in my mind.

    Let’s say that the underlying cause of the event was initially intentionally mischaracterized… I’m still at a loss to understand how such an intentional mischaracterization creates a scandal “worse than Watergate” (again the *illegal* cover-up of an *illegal* activity).

    Given that no one was speaking under oath, there doesn’t seem to have been a crime committed here.

  41. anjin-san says:

    @ matt bernius

    there doesn’t seem to have been a crime committed here

    Well, the President is black. AND a Democrat.

    What else do you need?

  42. michael reynolds says:

    @OzarkHillbilly:

    The NRA doesn’t even notice the actual human membership, they serve the manufacturers, because the profit margin for selling a gun to a duck hunter is precisely the same as the profit margin for selling a gun to a rapist, a gang member, a murderer or a mass murderer. Profit is the name of the game, everything else is a distraction.

  43. beth says:

    @Jenos Idanian #13: Hold on a darn minute – are you trying to tell me that a politician went on a Sunday talk show and said something that wasn’t the absolute truth? Next you’ll be telling me that Santa isn’t real.

  44. Red Barchetta says:

    It was all out there. The press just decided to cover up for these useless pieces of shit.

    What a world. Lives were lost for political gain.

    And it persists.

    Politics.

    For those continuing to support the administartion. and a certain H Clinton……….please look in the mirror and ask some questions.

  45. anjin-san says:

    @ Red Barchetta

    Lives were lost for political gain.

    In fact, the lives were lost before the whole thing became politicized. And when it did become politicized, Mitt Romney was the first one in line to try and make a little hay.

    Are you as confused as you sound?

  46. michael reynolds says:

    @Red Barchetta:

    You’re a political imbecile. I mean, I like you personally. But you know dick about history or politics dude and it shows.

    But I do love the smell of desperation that wafts from you. Mmmm. Smells like a Romney fan.

  47. michael reynolds says:

    @anjin-san:

    It’s Drew. He didn’t get any smarter. But the new handle is cool.

  48. Rafer Janders says:

    @Jenos Idanian #13:

    Through the weekend, top Obama administration officials — specifically UN Ambassador Susan Rice and Secretary of State Hillary Clinton — were repeating as fact that the attack had been inspired by a YouTube video.

    And…so? We didn’t want to announce to the terrorists right away that we knew who they were, and announcing in public that we thought it was the work of a mob gave allowed us to lull their suspicions. After a terrorist attack, the first thing for the government to do is not necessarily to go on TV and announce to the terrorists everything that we do and don’t know. The basis of intelligence work is misdirection.

  49. matt bernius says:

    @Red Barchetta:

    Lives were lost for political gain.

    Can you explain how lives were lost for political gain?

    I mean, how did the cover-up — which seems to be what everyone is concerned about — in any way resulted in the loss of lives?

  50. PJ says:

    @matt bernius:

    I mean, how did the cover-up — which seems to be what everyone is concerned about — in any way resulted in the loss of lives?

    SHUT UP, that’s how.
    Also, time travel.

  51. michael reynolds says:

    @matt bernius:

    He can never explain anything. Comes here, lets loose some incoherent half-rant, then runs away to Dave Schuler’s place to cry about how mean we are to him.

  52. michael reynolds says:

    @PJ:

    Any president who can plant his own phony birth certificate before he’s born in anticipation of his eventual candidacy can certainly cause an ex post facto “cover-up” to cause the deaths that preceded it.

    What I love is he thinks he’s all about hard facts. Yep. Except for the whole time-space continuum difficulties.

  53. @Red Barchetta:

    What a world. Lives were lost for political gain.

    Any chance you could actually explain that assertion?

  54. @michael reynolds:

    Any president who can plant his own phony birth certificate before he’s born in anticipation of his eventual candidacy can certainly cause an ex post facto “cover-up” to cause the deaths that preceded it.

    Good point. I don’t know why I hadn’t considered that.

  55. anjin-san says:

    But the new handle is cool.

    I agree. Now thinking about changing mine to “Blue Barracuda”…

    The Barchetta is a classic, will have to keep my eyes open for one at the Monterey Motorsports Reunion.

  56. Scot says:

    Pure politics.

  57. al-Ameda says:

    We’ve been here before: Republicans impeached Bill Clinton for almost nothing having to do with governance – lying about adultery in a court proceeding. They, House Republicans, had the vote and so they did it.

    Legally, Republicans do not actually need a reason to impeach Obama, all they need are the votes in the House and they currently have that. I suspect they want a fig leaf of sorts so that the public doesn’t get the idea that they impeached Obama for no good reason (even though everyone would know otherwise.) Not only that, about 40% of the public would be happy if they did it too.

    Oh, polls would probably show that a majority of Republican voters disapprove of the House moving to impeach the president, but really, that’s a a matter of lying to pollsters.

  58. al-Ameda says:

    @Jenos Idanian #13:

    And, apparently, what is not also up to debate is that Democrats are more interested in playing their partisan games and keeping up their blind party loyalty than finding out why they lied, and what they thought they’d be protecting by lying.

    And conservatives like Huckabee continue to parrot the Issa lies about Benghazi. Thomas Pickering chaired an investigation into the events of Benghazi – his committee heard testimony from all parties and concluded that American assets were not available to intervene and prevent the attack and killing of the 4 Americans.

    How about perspective? Did Republicans care one bit about President Bush lying to get us into (an unnecessary) war in Iraq which has resulted in the death of 4,000 American troops? The record speaks for itself.

  59. anjin-san says:

    How can something that is widely know be a cover-up?

    Double secret cover up.