Even today we still hear the implication-heavy word “Benghazi.” It has come to mean, in the minds of the more rabid Republican, when translated into their frenzied, simplistically idiomatic mode of speech, “Hillary Clinton – Baaad.” But here’s what actually happened. On September 11, 2012, the American diplomatic compound in Benghazi, Libya, was attacked by Ansar al-Sharia, an Islamic Libyan terrorist group, resulting in the deaths of the U.S. Ambassador and three others.
Despite persistent partisan claims and the impeccable foresight of hindsight that Barack Obama, Hillary Clinton and National Security Advisor Susan Rice acted improperly and in ways that that might have prevented the attacks, no such blame was ever established. In fact there were ten – count ‘em, ten – investigations into the Benghazi attacks, six led by Republican committees, and the result was always the same: the complete exoneration of Hillary Clinton.
Try though they may, they could not shamelessly exploit the Benghazi tragedy to implicate, impugn, malign, destroy or otherwise blacken the reputation of Hillary Clinton. And that, of course, was almost certainly the only point of six of those ten investigations. So they simply decided to snatch victory from the jaws of infamy and convert the word “Benghazi” into the one word anti-Hillary piece of yellow propaganda that we know it to be today. That, as it turned out, was more than adequate for their purposes. In fact, it proved adequate even in the tiny minds of some fellow-travelers on the Left, who are, alas, too mentally weak to escape the spurious gravitation of thirty years of mud-slinging against our former Secretary of State, compliments of the Republican Party.
So when interviewing Kellyanne Conway, who was filled with feigned outrage because some preliminary impeachment hearings against Donald Trump were being held in secret session, Fox News host Chris Wallace pointed out that the Benghazi hearings were also held behind closed doors. That became Kellyanne’s golden moment to try to change the subject, by saying, “That’s because of the negligence of the woman who got defeated [i.e. Hillary Clinton] …” But Chris Wallace would have none of it, and despite Kellyanne’s persistent interruption with the favored Benghazi talking points, to his credit, Mr Wallace interrupted her interruption and reeled her back to the actual point. The actual point was, Republicans never complained before about closed door sessions. Why now? But according to Kellyanne this time it’s different, of course. This time it’s about her Lord and master, her Republican pig-god.
Of course, it was a victory for Kellyanne anyway, as all such interviews are always victories for Kellyanne. She clearly rehearses her list of subject-changing whataboutisms, alternative truths and Bowling Green Masacres thoroughly before every interview. Donald Trump heard the explosive word “Benghazi” used in a Hillary-bashing context, as did his drooling base, and they were appeased. That is why Kellyanne Conway has, to date, so successfully survived the toxic trapdoor the West Wing has become under the Donald Trump usurpation. She never screws up, unlike Mick Mulvaney or Rudy.
In another interview, this time with CNN host Dana Bash, Kellyanne was asked about Ukrainian quid pro quo. One quick word on that: quid quo pro is not required for there to be a Constitutional crime, an emoluments clause violation. All that is needed is a thing of value being transferred from a foreign government to the president of the United States. That’s it. The foreign government can receive doodly-squat in exchange for it and it is still an emoluments violation. But it was the fact that nearly $400 million in Congressionally provisioned aid was denied Ukraine for months by Donald Trump and his leaking scow of buccaneers, and only released two days after the whistleblower story broke in the New York Times and the Washington Post, that made it irrevocably look like quid pro quo.
But none of that mattered, as Kellyanne explained to Dana Bush, because “they [Ukraine] got their money anyway.” In other words, Donald Trump got no quid quo pro from Ukraine, and Ukraine got their money anyway, so where’s the crime? So, to apply the logic of Kellyanne Conway, who, with a JD from the George Washington University, is herself no legal neophyte, the Watergate burglary was no big deal because the burglars were never able to successfully bug the Democratic National Committee’s headquarters. Put another way, the bank robbers didn’t get any money from the bank they tried to rob, so what’s your problem?
Let’s be clear on this, truth, justice and the best interest of the American people haven’t been the aim of the Republican Party for a very long time. A party that began well under the majestic guidance of Abraham Lincoln has descended to this, a greedy confederation of political hacks. It’s trajectory can be graphed against its recent partisan descent into the blindness of bias. Beginning with Watergate, when some Republicans actually voted for impeachment, to Bill Clinton, when some didn’t, to today, when 100% of Republicans, despite the unprecedented depredations of this toxic president, voted against the continuation of impeachment inquiries, the Republican focus has shifted entirely from the best interest of America to its own interests rooted in money and power. Kellyanne Conway is the face and voice of that descent.
Robert Harrington is an American expat living in Britain. He is a portrait painter.