Mandeville, LA – Exclusive Transcript – You know why McCain doesn’t think that Obama has committed an impeachable offense, because McCain would use the same kind of force were he president, had he been elected president. You would do this without even thinking. McCain is the one running around ginning up another war that we can enjoy the fun of getting involved in in Syria. Check out today’s transcript for the rest…
Begin Mike Church Show Transcript
On Thursday, Senate Armed Services Committee Ranking Member James Inhofe accused President Barack Obama of overseeing “the most egregious cover-up in American history.” [Mike: Boy, that’s some stupendous stuff there, huh, “the biggest cover-up in history.” Bigger than the XYZ Affair, really?] He added that “people may be starting to use the ‘I word’” before long.
Former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee also said on his radio show this week, “I believe that before it’s all over, this president will not fill out his full term. As bad as Watergate was because it broke the trust between the president and the people, no one died. This is more serious because four Americans did in fact die. And President Obama has yet to explain why did they die.”
Mike: Some other presidents have still yet to fully explain why thousands upon thousands of troops died in Iraq. Glenn Greenwald, schooling Bill Maher on Saturday night on this on Real Time with Bill Maher, wait until you hear this one, folks.
McCain also defended Obama against impeachment during a late February town hall, saying, “I do not believe that the president has committed impeachable offenses — that’s high crimes.”
Mike: You know why McCain doesn’t think that Obama has committed an impeachable offense, because McCain would use the same kind of force were he president, had he been elected president. You would do this without even thinking. McCain is the one running around ginning up another war that we can enjoy the fun of getting involved in in Syria. You would have to reckon that John McCain has no problem with the kind of use of unilateral executive power that President Obama has used, because he would have used it himself. Oh, but it’s all good versus evil, Republican versus Democrat, red versus blue, left versus right.
Still, the senator did tell ABC’s Martha Raddatz on Sunday that he does believe the Obama administration’s response to the terrorist attacks in Benghazi on Sept. 11, 2012, constituted a “cover-up” because “there was willful removal of information, which was obvious.”
Sen. Susan Collins was similarly reluctant to back impeachment talk during an interview on CNN’s “State of the Union” on Sunday.
Mike: We have Susan Collins audio, don’t we? She also talked about the IRS cover-up. By the bye, I’ve received an email from a listener. You read my mind. When I get to the IRS story and the alleged targeting of Tea Party groups and what have you to make sure they weren’t violating their tax status, yes, I absolutely plan to bring up the silliness or the fact that there are nonprofits involved here. Many of you know why there are nonprofits. Do we have Susan Collins ready to go?
[start audio clip]
Senator Susan Collins: I don’t, at this point, I will say, but that doesn’t mean that these allegations aren’t serious. Joe Lieberman and I did a preliminary investigation into the events into the attacks on Benghazi last fall, and we had a career CIA agent, who was the woman who first drafted the very first talking points, tell us that there was no national security reason for the line about the links to al Qaeda to have been dropped from the talking points. So clearly, politics was at play here.
[end audio clip]
Mike: Every time I hear her speak, it’s even worse to watch Ms. Collins, the senator from Maine, speak. It’s painful, it really is. You feel like: Is she going to get to the next word? That’s a prime example. So if I understand correctly, there was an investigation and some documents had been altered. Let’s get to Jackson Diehl.
Remember the scandal of “the 16 words”? If you do, you’ve probably been inside the Beltway too long, literally or figuratively. If not, the quick version is this: A former ambassador named Joseph C. Wilson IV charged in 2003 that President George W. Bush had included in his State of the Union address a (16-word) allegation about Iraq that his top aides knew to be false — that Saddam Hussein had sought to purchase uranium from Niger. Wilson then amped up the ensuing partisan uproar by claiming there had been a White House conspiracy to punish him by deliberately blowing the cover of his CIA wife. [Mike: Valerie Plame was her name. I think they made a movie about this actually. Didn’t HBO make a movie about this? Maybe it was a miniseries.]
Most of what Wilson said was later proved to be grossly exaggerated, or simply false. But that didn’t stop Democrats and partisan media from devoting years to conspiracy-spinning and attempts to pin political and criminal responsibility on Bush, Vice President Dick Cheney or Karl Rove. Blustered Wilson: “It’s of keen interest to me to see whether or not we can get Karl Rove frog-marched out of the White House in handcuffs.”
A decade later, we have the right’s answer to Joe Wilson: Benghazi. Once again the obsessive focus is on a public statement — this time by U.N. Ambassador Susan Rice, who appeared on news programs five days after the armed attack on the U.S. consulate in Libya last Sept. 11 and said that it had grown out of a demonstration against an anti-Muslim video. Again the theory is that this assertion was the product of a high-level conspiracy to twist the truth. Last week Republicans produced their own Wilsonesque figure: former Tripoli deputy chief of mission Gregory Hicks, who claimed he was punished after he questioned Rice’s words.
The common thread here is not just the climate of intense partisanship in which media and politicians from the left dismiss what the right insists is a scandal of historic proportions — or vice-versa. It is the diversion of what should be serious, bipartisan discussion about government failings. [Mike: Damn skippy, that’s the point that I was trying to make the other day. I told you that Diehl, I think, is onto something. This is posted in today’s Pile of Prep, by the bye.] The Bush administration, after all, did wrongly conclude that Iraq was hiding chemical weapons and trying to revive its nuclear program. For its part the Obama administration didn’t provide enough security to the Libya mission or adequately prepare for an emergency in post-revolution North Africa.
Yet Wilson did not prompt a serious discussion of why U.S. intelligence about Iraq was wrong; instead, the debate was about those 16 words, whether Wilson was truthful in saying he had debunked them before they were spoken, and whether he and his wife were the victims of a vendetta. Now, instead of examining how the Obama administration handled post-revolution Libya, we are debating whether Rice, Hillary Clinton and President Obama deliberately lied about the nature of the “terror attack” in Benghazi.
Some of those who denounced the Wilson-inspired witch hunt are now repeating its tactics. First they focused on Rice, who was a leading candidate to be secretary of state before 97 House Republicans released a letter asserting that she “willfully or incompetently misled the American public.” When it became irrefutable that Rice had simply delivered a consensus estimate prepared by the intelligence community, the scandal-mongers shifted to how her “talking points” had supposedly been doctored by Clinton or White House political henchmen.
Mike: I always imagine political henchmen as the guys in an Austin Powers movie. You know what I’m talking about? Have you seen any of the Austin Powers movies?
Mike: You know the one where they’re on the, I think it’s the submarine. Dr. Evil points out, what does he say: Anonymous knob-turning henchman number two, get back to turning those knobs. That’s the visual I have when I think of White House political henchmen doing the same thing.
An investigation by House Republicans and reports in the Weekly Standard and ABC News purport to show how the talking points were edited over several drafts to remove references to the extremist militia Ansar al-Sharia and previous attacks in Benghazi. But this was not a cover-up. Instead, the changes were mainly the product of interagency tensions: State thought the CIA, which was mainly responsible for the Benghazi mission, was preempting an FBI investigation and trying to shift blame for the fiasco.
Meanwhile, by the ABC account, every draft of the talking points says that the attacks “were spontaneously inspired by the protests at the U.S. embassy in Cairo and evolved into a direct assault . . .” That’s what Rice said. It might have been wrong, but it was the intelligence assessment at the time. So what, exactly, is the scandal?
To be fair, the House Republican investigation of Benghazi also addresses the more substantive issues of the State Department’s failure to adequately secure its Benghazi facilities and Obama’s lack of “a credible national security posture in the region.” Some of those same points were made by State’s independent review board; many Democrats might agree with them. A constructive discussion is there to be had. Instead, we have more bickering over words — and more dreams of frog-marching White House staffers in handcuffs.
End Mike Church Show Transcript