The Collective Ho-Hum on Benghazi

It’s not every day that an American Embassy is attacked and four Americans, including an Ambassador, are murdered. So after the September 11 attacks on the embassy in Benghazi, one would have thought that there would have been widespread outrage. In fact there was a widespread furor in the aftermath of the attacks. First the outrage was aimed at presidential candidate Mitt Romney and his supposedly insensitive and political comments made hours after we learned of what occurred. After the storm died down, the public turned its attention to the individual whose film insulted the Prophet Mohammed and thus instigated the attacks.

In the weeks ahead we would come to learn more details. Even after it became obvious to all that the attacks were planned weeks in advance and had absolutely nothing to do with the film (which no one seemed to even know existed until the September 11 attacks), the narrative had been set. And with the campaign in full force, the media seemed content to let the issue die lest the administration be further embarrassed.

Even with the election in the rearviewmirror, reporting on Benghazi has been sparse. A pair of Congressional hearings have shone light on the issue, but an alliance between the far left and far right have managed to damper the conversation. The first event was now former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton’s appearance before the Senate, where in response to questioning from Senator Ron Johnson of Wisconsin, Clinton responded:

With all due respect, the fact is we had four dead Americans. Was it because of a protest, or was it because of guys out for a walk one night who decided they’d go kill some Americans? What difference, at this point, does it make?

The response was hailed by those desperate to bury the issue as a stroke of genius. Hillary Clinton had all but sewn up the 2016 presidential election with her Churchillian wit. Forget that the response was at best callous, and demonstrated a tremendous lack of curiosity from the person in charge of our State Department, not to mention that it sure as hell matters why these attacks were perpetrated. No, it was the line that ended the debate once and for all.

Well, not quite, because the issue came up again in the confirmation hearings from Obama’s choice to replace Leon Panetta at the Department of Defense. Chuck Hagel’s disastrous performance has stalled his nomination. Though anyone watching Hagel’s performance that day should have realized he isn’t qualified to run a frozen banana stand let alone the Defense Department, the “true conservatives” at the American (Paleo)Conservative ran to Hagel’s defense. Over there ideology trumps competence, and they have mounted an all out blitz on those Israel-loving neocons who oppose Hagel, I guess because those Jewish mind rays have distorted our judgment or something.

The most hysterical (in more ways than one) response came from Rod Dreher (h/t Pauli), who seems to think that the Republicans are destroying their credibility by opposing Hagel. According to Dreher and his buddy Daniel Larison, the GOP’s actions over the past couple of months ensure that all of the independents and realists are going to run in horror away from the GOP. As usual there’s no support given to support the thesis that the Republicans are alienating anyone by not behaving exactly as the folks at the American Conservative wish they would, but it makes for some entertaining reading as Rod Dreher of all people chastises Republicans for being shrill. There’s a Yiddish word for that, but I don’t want to further alienate Dreher by using it. Anyway, after referencing another article chock full of genius insights such as “Be more pro-science” as ways that Republicans can lure “independents,” Dreher shrieks:

On the Hagel matter, the Senate GOP seems nothing but obstructionist. Who gives a rat’s ass about Benghazi? Seriously, who?

Yes, that’s right, the true conservative (TM) position on a terrorist attack on an American embassy that leaves four dead is “who gives a rat’s ass?”

So after dismissing any concern over Benghazi, what’s is Rod Dreher’s next piece of trenchant analysis: a post titled “Happy Kale-Day to Me.” So Dreher can’t be bothered about a terrorist attack, but he is sure to make sure everyone knows he had a terrific birthday in which he got to eat plenty of delicious kale. That’s a true conservative ™ for you.

Well at least the true conservatives ™ can sleep well with the knowledge that they are joined by the far left in dismissing Benghazi as a subject worth worrying our little heads over. Oliver Willis, a “fellow” at Media Matters for America, spent his day writing a series of unfunny tweets mocking conservatives for trying to investigate the issue. Aside from demonstrating his complete witlessness – subject matter aside, Willis’s attempts at satire are just cringeworthy – Willis elaborated the left’s position on Benghazi. You see, only crazy conservatives could possibly have any interest in this boooooooorrrrring issue, so let’s mock them. And Dreher and the useful idiots at the American Conservative are too happy to oblige in the mockery. And then they wonder why conservatives can’t make advances in the culture or in the political sphere.

For years I’ve heard countless complaints about how conservatives aren’t serious, and how we really need to start acting like adults in the room. If burying our heads in the sand about an attack on our embassies that killed fellow Americans is “acting like an adult,” then I truly tremble in fear at where our country is headed.

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Dante alighieri


  1. “Obama continued. “We talk to these folks because they potentially have the best answers, so I know whose ass to kick.” Not so much when it comes to Benghazi!

  2. i especially lol at Larison when he critiques Republicans for not realizing the roots of their defeat…and then goes on to suggest that a big reason minorities don’t vote GOP might be, you guessed it, Republican security policies since Bush. call me naive but i kinda doubt that’s the main factor. i got my own opinions on “what the GOP should do” but i don’t pretend my opinions are always popular or electorally effective.

    “The American Conservative” writes the GOP platform, it’d go: down with Israel/neocons. everything else? we can negotiate. freethinkers!

  3. i think someone accurately critiqued Dreher a while ago for feeling culturally alienated from what he thinks is a too market-focused conservatism, and extrapolating his own lifestyle/biases into a pet ideology.

    the foodie stuff, for instance — what’s the point. i don’t mean if he wants to talk about it on a personal level, that’s fine. i mean that he’s talked about this as a red vs. blue thing before and i have extreme difficulty caring. then again maybe it’s all a crafty editorial scheme to win more granola-munching liberal converts to the Paleostinian cause.

  4. There were 20 or so people who made it out of our Benghazi embassy– in
    spite of this administration’s inaction. Where are they? Why haven’t they
    been interviewed by the media? If they appeared at the congressional hearings,
    it never got much coverage. Seems to me the media should be fighting to
    interview these folks– instead, they appear to have been stuffed down the
    memory hole.

    Also, the patsy who made the film blamed for sparking the assault was taken
    into custody back in September, and his hearing was scheduled (rather
    conveniently for this administration) for a few days after the presidential
    election. Where is the man now? Is he just rotting in custody somewhere?
    Not much curiosity about that from our ‘journalists’, not much concern for
    his freedom of speech.

    The impression I get from our media’s handling of this event is that they
    are not merely happy to give the left the benefit of the doubt, they are in
    the tank to kill stories for this administration. Our so-called ‘journalists’
    have willingly gagged themselves, and remove those gags only to shout down
    those who won’t participate in their blackout. I’m not the sort to wear a
    tinfoil hat, but the obvious campaign of distraction and incuriosity waged
    by our news agencies is frightening.

  5. I generally agree with you on substance (especially on the unseriousness of the alt-right) but I wonder if perhaps discussions of this nature ought to be in a parallel forum devoted to secular politics and the like.

  6. I wonder if perhaps discussions of this nature ought to be in a parallel forum devoted to secular politics and the like.

    Don’t give Tito ideas.

    I’ll let one of the founders of the blog address the comment more substantively, but it seems the horse was out of the barn on that long, long ago.

  7. Mark Levin refers to the lying, liberal media as the “praetorian press.” It serves as fell guardian of the regime, the nightmare narrative, and the imperial person: Barack. The praetorian press can overtly operate because the masses either have been brainwashed or been silenced by their dependence on the regime for their sustenance.

    And so,

    “Everything which might cause doubt about the wisdom of the government or create discontent will be kept from the people. The basis of unfavorable comparisons with elsewhere, the knowledge of possible alternatives to the course actually taken, information which might suggest failure on the part of the government to live up to its promises or to take advantage of opportunities to improve conditions–all will be suppressed. There is consequently no field where the systematic control of information will not be practiced and uniformity of views not enforced.”
    ― Friedrich A. von Hayek, The Road to Serfdom

  8. FDR was a terrible president and he was re-elected three times. FDR personally went after newspapers who opposed his policies.

    The media has never been all that objective, but it is important to remember that Washington, DC is a Democrat town. When bad things happen while a Democrat occupies the White House, it’s always someone else’s fault or it’s no big deal. I used to work there. God, thank you for allowing me to escape.

  9. Oliver Willis is still around? Ace had the best takedown of that gasbag:

    “He smells of Funyuns and failure.”

  10. I stand by my comment. I consider FDR to be a terrible President. Skilled politician, but a terrible President, nonetheless. FDR put Americans in concentration camps. FDR expanded the federal government’s power, reach, control and cost. The New Deal was a failure. FDR gave Stalin whatever Stalin wanted and blatantly ignored evidence of the NKVD in the slaughter of Poles at Katyn.

    Obama, by comparison, is a pest. Obumber has it in for the Catholic Church, but the Church has survived worse that a stuttering, propped up empty suit.

  11. FDR put Americans in concentration camps.

    True. A huge swath of the political class was implicated in that, including Earl Warren, the majority on the federal Supreme Court, &c. Advising against was…J. Edgar Hoover.

    FDR expanded the federal government’s power, reach, control and cost.

    Just to point out that the ratio of federal expenditure to domestic product in 1940 was about .065, that the budget was balanced twice in the years running from 1933 to 1941, and that public sector borrowing never exceeded 3.9% of domestic product in any fiscal year.

    The New Deal was a failure.

    A failure at what? Rapid improvement in production began almost immediately upon the bank holiday and institution of changes in monetary policy in 1933, followed by the enactment of revised banking regulations. By 1942, economic output had returned to long-term trends. The residual problem, partially addressed by the WPA and other agencies but exacerbated by several other measures, was bad dysfunction in labor markets.

    FDR gave Stalin whatever Stalin wanted and blatantly ignored evidence of the NKVD in the slaughter of Poles at Katyn.

    Neither Roosevelt nor Truman were in a position to prevent the breaking of Eastern Europe. The facts on the ground pretty much dictated how matters played out.

  12. With his latest posts about Conservatism and Huntsman Dreher seems to be deliberately formulating Hillary’s “What difference, at this point, does it make?” to position a very pragmatic nihilism for his own use in becoming a non-threatening go-to chameleon “conservative” anyone from TAC to the BBC to Ellen Degeneres can turn to for a well-paid throwaway media bite tidbit at the spin of a Rolodex.

    Gay marriage? “What difference, at this point, does it make?” The battle was lost in the (mumble-mumble) “culture” – shrug – thanks for the check.

    Benghazi? Foreign policy? “What difference, at this point, does it make?” The battle was lost in the (mumble-mumble) “culture” – shrug – thanks for the check.

    Christianity? “What difference, at this point, does it make?” The argument was lost in the (mumble-mumble) “culture” – shrug – thanks for the check.

    We can only retreat from it all and eat fabulous crabby snacks and homemades until we feel it’s safe to have an opinion again.

    Dreher’s become the Christian Conservative version of your girlfriend’s best male friend at the office – the chatty gay one who is so calculatingly ambivalent on everything that no sex or identity group sees him as any kind of threat.

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