Most Americans aren’t too concerned about Benghazi, no matter who botched what
The first thing you need to do here is watch this Republican National Committee TV spot that was prepared for last fall’s presidential campaign but never used — because the Romney campaign people thought it would distract from the candidate’s focus on the economy.
Now you need to read THIS PIECE by David Weigel:
Jonathan Karl [of ABC News], who’s owned the politics-of-Benghazi beat all week, obtains a campaign ad that the RNC designed but never released in the fall of 2012. It’s simple, which lends it some emotional punch…
Because it broke in the final stretch of the election, Benghazi was always covered as a political story — something that could beat Barack Obama. Hence the outrage over the administration’s early talking points, and the questions about why “terror” was sliced out of them. “We have a pretty good gut feeling as to why the talking points were changed,” said Sean Hannity after Wednesday’s hearing. “It was in the heat of an election.”
But why are Republicans convinced that this would have altered the election?
This was never going to work. We learned why, not during the election, but during the weeks around the George W. Bush Presidential Center dedication. Bush, you’ll remember, was president during the deadliest terrorist attack ever on American soil. Yet Bush’s defenders credited him with Keeping America Safe. How? As Jennifer Rubin put it (though you could quote one of dozens of pundits), “there was no successful attack on the homeland after 9/11″ while Bush was at the wheel.
This is mockable (Charlie Pierce calls it “the great mulligan”) but astute. Bush got re-elected on this theory. Americans are fretful about terrorism only to the extent that it might kill them in America. The Bush-era response to terrorism led to two fitfully successful land wars in central Asia, with thousands of military deaths; more relevantly, when we’re talking Benghazi, the Bush years saw 64 attacks of varying scale on American diplomats and embassies. None of them hurt his re-election. A terrorist attack of the same scale in, say, Indianapolis would have. Not overseas.
Ed Kilgore adds THIS:
To put it another way, if George W. Bush got re-elected after disregarding every official and unofficial warning about the consequences of invading Iraq, not just fudging some post-event “talking points” on Sunday shows but lying to the American people and the whole world personally and repeatedly about the justifications for the war and how it was actually proceeding, then the idea that Obama could have been defeated by Benghazi! even if you assume the absolute worst about it is simply ludicrous.