That Sounds About Right…

Former SecDef Robert Gates on many critics’ views on the Benghazi incident: 

"It’s sort of a cartoonish impression of military capabilities and military forces.”

Personally, I have been thinking “action movie impression” but “cartoonish” works as well.

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


  1. Scott says:

    Don’t most people (regardless of political persuasion) have a cartoonish view of the world? Not just military capabilities. They believe the government is capable of incredible feats of conspiracy yet is simultaneously incredibly incompetent. I chalk it up to the fact that a lot of people just don’t know how the world works, how technology works, etc. This is combined with the conflation of movies and TV with reality. On the other hand, it has always been this way and is nothing new.

  2. @Scott: A fair observation, which I think is generally true.

    We, as a country, do seem especially prone to assuming amazing capabilities for our military.

  3. michael reynolds says:


    I think what’s new is that now an entire political party has adopted that cartoonish view. In terms of cartoonishness it’s now a bit like the McCarthy era.

  4. John Burgess says:

    This is hardly an American-only sin. Across the world, the US government and its agencies — particularly intelligence agencies — are believed to be omnipotent. They can cause every wrong suffered in any part of the world. Disease, earthquake, changing weather patterns… it’s all in the control of the USG.

    The exponents of these theories never seem to wonder why they’re still alive if the USG is so powerful. Wouldn’t any self-respecting despot get rid of the nuisances?

  5. Scott says:

    @Steven L. Taylor: I always have to laugh while reading some action/thriller novel, when the pilot has to jump out and repair his plane or whatever to get it going again. As an ex-maintenance officer, I know that most of them don’t have a clue how to do any such thing. Nor should they, since technology today is incredibly complex.
    But on the other hand, who doesn’t want to be Tony Stark or Macgiver or (to show my age) Tom Swift?

  6. fred says:

    Benghazi and GOP obsession is all about their fear of Hilary Clinton and results in next year’s general elections. Unfortunately they have found an ally in CNN and other mainstream media who like news items to make this a daily story. What are they doing about jobs for Americans and why does’nt the news media ask such questions of congress?

  7. bill says:

    @fred: if the media did their job back then it might not be in the news now. hell, the nyt’s is even asking questions about it, like they’re some conservative rag? it seems obvious that the msm wanted this story to just go away as it might damage a presidential campaign (actually 2), now they feel used as the country persists in asking “why”?- and they should. our people should not have died over there, alone while our military did nothing to help.

  8. Scott says:

    @bill: And here are we are back to Magical Thinking again. Because the MSM is just one big conspiracy (unless they’re incompetent).

  9. mantis says:

    bill’s a cartoon character. Ignore him. He doesn’t live in reality.

  10. EddieInCA says:

    I’m waiting for anyone in the MSM – CNN, Fox, MSNBC, CBS, NBC, ABC, CNBC – ask someone, anyone, WHAT, EXACTLY, IS THE SCANDAL?

    What could/have should been done that wasn’t?

    Because from what I can tell, we’re arguing about “information after the fact”. And, if so, what’s exactly has been covered up? What’s the scandal?

    Someone help me. Please. Cuz I don’t see it.

  11. Mikey says:


    What could/have should been done that wasn’t?

    Some people assert there could/should have been a military intervention or “rescue” mission, and the “cartoonish view” to which Gates refers has led them to believe it was possible (I do not). In their view, the Obama administration, for reasons as yet unrevealed, ordered the “rescue” mission to “stand down.”

    what’s exactly has been covered up? What’s the scandal?

    Again in their view (not mine), references to terrorism were expunged from the “talking points” so blame could be placed on the “YouTube video,” in order to cover up the as-yet-unexplained “stand down” order and protect Obama’s re-election campaign.

    (Apologies if you knew this stuff already–this is just my response when someone asks “what’s the scandal?”)

  12. OzarkHillbilly says:

    I blame Obama Tom Clancey.

  13. Mikey says:

    @OzarkHillbilly: Clancy’s actually pretty accurate. He’s got a lot of contacts in the military–even had a tour of JSOC when I was there.

    I blame Hollywood in general, although it’s hard to blame them for not showing the many hours of arduous, boring planning that go into the kinds of operations depicted in movies.

  14. matt bernius says:

    (1) The thing the media are “up in arms” about (to the degree that they are even “up in arms”) is the editing process — not the question of the specifics of whether or not the four dead men could have been rescued.

    our people should not have died over there, alone while our military did nothing to help.

    So, yes or no, do you think that Gates and various other Bush Appointee are all lying — that our Military could have saved these 4 men — in order to protect Obama?

  15. C. Clavin says:

    Seal Team 6 trained for months in a replica of OBL’s compound before flying in and taking him out.
    Yet the military was supposed to somehow swoop in and prevent Benghazi from even happening.
    The people who talk this way are the same ones who fantacize about guns and self-defense…even though people with guns hurt themselves and loved ones far, far, more often than they do the violent hordes rushing their doors.

  16. EddieInCA says:


    Have you read “Blackhawk Down?”

    Do you think that the US Military can just scramble Fighter Jets and an elite unit AFTER a firefight has started, and still prevent that firefight from taking place?

    If so, you must have LOVED the movie “Looper” and thought it a documentary.

    If you know better, than you’re using the deaths of 4 Americans as a political tool against a president you don’t like.

  17. C. Clavin says:

    As long as we are talking Republican ridiculousness…can we talk about Rubio calling for the resignation of a non-existent person????

  18. Mikey says:

    @C. Clavin:

    Seal Team 6 trained for months in a replica of OBL’s compound before flying in and taking him out.

    And they still lost an aircraft.

    Special operations like that are inherently dangerous not just because of how they engage the enemy, but because their extreme complexity and timing requirements provide innumerable opportunities to obey Murphy’s Law.

  19. bill says:

    @mantis: says the guy with the cartoon avatar, nice!

  20. bill says:


    – no
    – not prevent, maybe deter
    – didn’t see it
    – read/comprehend my comment b4 assuming my “intent”.