I’ve spent the past week in the panhandle of Florida watching Congress bicker about Benghazi. Arguments center on the Obama Administration’s handling of the first “talking points” Americans wouldn’t have received, had it not been for our new techno-age need to know now. The attack on the Benghazi consulate has morphed into a “who knew what first” witch-hunt, and Hillary Clinton is the witch — again.
We live in a digital, can’t-get-it fast-enough world. As a result, CNN and several other news stations are suffering, but so are we. Journalists have to be their own “fact checkers,” and we — the pubic — once expected delays in broadcasts to be a product of responsible stewards of the news, with a responsibility to dispense informed, accurate information.
Most people don’t even know about Benghazi, the video somewhat blamed for last year’s attack, or the Obama administration’s handling of the calamity. That doesn’t matter. Of import is the ongoing dialogue intended to blemish the career of a woman who actually has a shot at becoming the first female President of the United States.
We are 18 months from mid-term federal elections. Congressmen, governors, and senators — and their supporters — will nonetheless use the specter of doubt of the Obama administration’s handling of this tragedy to tip votes. The water boarding of Hillary Clinton’s stint as Secretary of State provides a yet-to-be-seen, but predictable, opportunity to damage an opponent who is arguably more fit for the Presidency than even her husband was.
Set aside Hillary Clinton’s politics, and the politics of her party. Set aside the umpteen million scandals she’s deflected better than Wonder Woman deflects bullets. If she decides to run in 2016, she’s got it locked down. Aside from the minorities, women, Democrats, immigrants, gays, swing voters and liberal left who will come out to vote in droves; it’s history that’s on her side. Who doesn’t want see history firsthand?
Hillary Clinton has it all, and people know it. Looking beyond the polls and voting trends — and Clinton’s service as First Lady, New York senator, Presidential candidate, and Secretary of State — she is walking history. No one can deny anyone has ever been closer to being the first person in the White House to be called Madam President.
All of us will put up our obligatory campaign signs, the ones that align with our party affiliation. We will wear the same stickers we are supposed to, and make the donations expected of us. But when we enter our voting booths, many won’t be able to resist the possibility of putting a woman in the White House.
Benghazi is just a distraction; President Obama is correct. But it isn’t a distraction only orchestrated for 2016, it’s literally a man-made distraction aimed at a candidate who strikes fear in the heart of conservatives. The next set of elections in 2014 are aimed to populate Congress with candidates who will continue to overcomplicate every initiative set forth by the current administration, just to halt Hillary Clinton. And the bottom line is she’s really the only target the GOP has left on the field.
Campaigning is, and always has been a perpetual pursuit. Pendulums swing left and right on the road to Washington, and what happened in Benghazi only has momentum because conservatives are losing ground on social issues like immigration reform and marriage equality — issues they’ve depended upon to ignite bases, complicated debates, sway undecided voters, and win.
The Benghazi scandal is only a scandal because people want information now, even though “now” is proving to be less accurate by the minute. The “on demand” information that’s given legs to arguments such as this, nearly dismissing the four Americans who were killed in service to our country, may be the makings of another classic “Clinton triangulation strategy,” which just might walk Democrats right into the Oval Office again.
Tony Plakas is the CEO of Compass, the gay and lesbian community center of Lake Worth and the Palm Beaches. He can be reached at TonyPlakas@post.harvard.edu and you can follow him on Twitter @tonyplakas.
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