With the experience of Justice Sotomayor’s confirmation process and the pre-process now underway for Susan Rice, it’s difficult not to conclude that congressional Republicans face particular obstacles being rational and not-awful when faced with female nominees for high office who are not white. This may sound like conclusions based on little data. But Sotomayor v. Kagan? Pretty little difference on the merits; big difference on the nature of the opposition. And something pretty similar for Rice.
To that end I wanted to quote at length from a new editorial in the Post simply because it has such a bracingly high content of rationality and absence of nonsense about what really should be an issue in the whole question of what happened in Benghazi in early September.
When a US ambassador gets killed in a foreign country and seems clearly not to have had sufficient protection, that’s a failure. By definition. And Congress and the American people deserve some explanation of how that was allowed to happen. The administration may have good answers or bad answers. But the questions are entirely reasonable. The problem in this case is that Republicans have focused on a series of alternative questions that range from nonsensical to clinically paranoid.
I’ll let the Post editorial board pick it up from there …
Though the Benghazi attack involved clear failures of U.S. security, Republicans have concentrated on a dubious subsidiary issue: the alleged failure of the administration to publicly recognize quickly enough that the incident was “a terrorist attack.” In fact, Mr. Obama has acknowledged that “the information may not have always been right the first time.” But if there was a White House conspiracy to cover up the truth, Republicans have yet to produce any evidence of it — much less a connection to Ms. Rice, who had no involvement with the Benghazi attack other than those television appearances.
Nor was her account of what happened as far off the mark as Republicans claim. Though investigations are not complete, what has emerged so far suggests that the attack was staged by local jihadists, not ordered by the al-Qaeda leadership in Pakistan. Officials believe that it was inspired in part by demonstrations that took place that day in Cairo. That is not so far from Ms. Rice’s explanation that “this began as a spontaneous . . . response to what transpired in Cairo.” Republicans claim that Ms. Rice “propagated a falsehood” that the attacks were connected to an anti-Islam YouTube video. How then to explain the contemporaneous reports from Western news organizations quoting people at the burning consulate saying that they were angry about the video?
Read the whole editorial here. The actual work of government oversight is significantly impeded by endless pandering to nonsensical conspiracies theories or people who need clinical intervention.
Josh Marshall is editor and publisher of TalkingPointsMemo.com.