President Obama is shocked — shocked — that politicking is going on in Washington. He made his startling discovery in the midst of the Benghazi controversy. There's politics in politics! He says Republicans are politicizing the controversy. He says they hope to capitalize on Benghazi at his political expense
Well, stop the press!
Politicking is what politicians do. One party strives to gain advantage over the other. The parties do this by pointing out the opposition's shenanigans. The parties hope to embarrass each other. In doing so, they act out of partisan motives. Still, now and then they serve a nonpartisan public interest by spotlighting the opposition's fast ones — thus hopefully keeping each other at least halfway honest.
The facts are what matter in Benghazi, not the politics. The facts are:
The Obama administration was the first to inject politics. In the heat of an election campaign, the administration fabricated a cover story to minimize a debacle in which four Americans died in a terrorist attack on the anniversary of the Sept. 11 attacks. The cover story was that the attack stemmed from a weeks-old, anti-Islam YouTube video back in the United States. An attack employing RPGs and mortar rounds was characterized as a "spontaneous demonstration.'
The second-highest diplomat in Libya has revealed he told Secretary of State Hillary Clinton about the attack while it was raging, and that he said nothing about a video demonstration. He says he knew immediately it was a terrorist attack. He says his "jaw dropped' to hear the Obama administration, days later, going around attributing the attack to a YouTube video. This matters, he says.
After the attack Obama himself sent out a misleading, apologetic message declaring that "the future must not belong to those who slander the Prophet of Islam.' Secretary Clinton focused her indignation on "that awful video,' not the Islamic extremists who subjected four Americans to savage deaths. The nonentity who made the video was rounded up and tossed in the slammer on a flimsy parole-violation charge. (So much for the First Amendment.)
CIA briefing points were scrubbed of direct mentions of terrorist involvement. U.N. Ambassador Susan Rice was sent forth with the scrubbed points — five days after the attack — to further propagate the false story-line on Sunday TV news shows that Benghazi was an anti-video demonstration, not a terrorist assault.
No, this is not in the same league as the Watergate scandal. There are no indications (so far, anyway) of obstruction of justice, perjury, subornation of perjury or any of the other felony offenses that brought down the Nixon presidency.
Acknowledging that, however, is not to suggest that the Benghazi covery-story interlude is of negligible significance and therefore excusable. There are still questions to be answered. But the known facts so far establish that the cover story was a concocted, choreographed lie. Not Watergate, but nevertheless sleazy, shameful and inexcusable.