"...the reasoner begins with what he or she is trying to end up with."
This Sunday's Meet the Press with David Gregory started with a confusing interview about Benghazi, with Republican Congressman Darrell Issa, of California. Although Gregory tried, unsuccessfully, to focus the circular responses Issa gave about how Congress is relentlessly investigating the September 11, 2012, Benghazi incident, the answers were confusing and even contradictory.
Issa reminded me of the cliche Texas governor from the film musical "Best Little Whore House in Texas", played convincingly by Charles Durning who sang about "The Sidestep", in his Best Supporting Actor nomination performance. Durning gave a comical tongue in cheek performance when he sang the lyrics:
"Fellow Texans, I am proudly standing here to humbly see.
I assure you, and I mean it- Now, who says I don't speak out as plain as day? And, fellow Texans, I'm for progress and the flag-
long may it fly. I'm a poor boy, come to greatness. So, it follows that I cannot tell a lie. Ooh I love to dance a little sidestep, now they see me now they don't- ...."
On Meet the Press, this is how Issa explained his take on the politicization of the Benghazi tragedy (transcript from Meet the Press):
Issa: "...a full understanding of why urgent request repeatedly for more security before the attacks were denied? We’ve had statements that it wasn’t about money. But, at the same time, people are asking for more security, they got less. The British ambassador has two assassination attempts, and yet we keep a facility that was not able to withstand even a few minutes of attack. Then, those seven hours while the attack was going on. Was the response correct? Could it have been better? Why wasn’t-- why weren’t things at least tried or revved up to be tried? Those are important questions. And then afterwards, how could you change talking point 12 times from what seems to be relatively right to what seems to be completely wrong?"
What would the late Charles Durning say to the above?
"Ooh... I've come and gone and, ooh I love to sweep around the wide step, cut a little swathe and lead the people on."
Let's try to straighten out Issa's circular reasoning. Although Issa tries to create the conclusion that the attack on the consulate or outpost in Benghazi is shrouded in a cover up, the straight truth is that Republicans, like Issa, with his myth creating colleagues, are muckraking a tragic situation for political purposes.
This over reach on Behghazi is most likely because Secretary of State Hillary Clinton may run for president and the right wing are terrified of another Democrat in the White House.
First of all - the consulate is not the embassy. The "under protection" of the consulate must be distinguished from security at the embassy. Ambassador Stevens left the embassy for a yet to be explained reason, where he was tragically killed.
Congressman Issa should ask why Ambassador Stevens was at the consulate when security there was known to be less than optimal? Although the reason Ambassador Stevens left the Libyan embassy in Tripoli is irrelevant (as Secretary of State Hilary Clinton said, "what difference does it make?"), if Congressmen Issa is wasting tax payer money by muckraking Benghazi, then Americans should have all the facts about the incident. This should include revealing why Ambassador Stevens left the security of the embassy, in the first place.
Rather than explain why Ambassador Stevens unfortunately left the embassy on September 11, 2012, Issa speaks, instead, about two assassination attempts on the British ambassador.
"...(The Sidestep)...Now my good friends, it behooves me to be solemn and declare..." Congressman Issa raises a red herring when he mixes facts about the British Ambassador with Benghazi. Americans know very little about any horrible attempt to assassinate the British Ambassador and we probably don't need to know about the numbers of death threats to all American and British diplomats.
Additionally, Congressman Issa deliberately confused the issue by speaking about the inability of the consulate security to withstand even "a few minutes" of attack, when he acknowledges the Benghazi incident raged for seven hours. I suspect this egregious statement by Issa would've made glaring headlines, if Issa were a Congressional leader, like Speaker Boehner. But, he's a two year Congressman who his colleagues put up to confuse Americans
Dear Congressman Issa, don't get smug about the tragic Benghazi attack. By any measure, the Benghazi attack was a horribly protracted incident. I suspect the initial minutes were simply not taken seriously enough. In fact, demonstrations were occurring in several locations on that day and the people at the consulate probably had every reason to believe the conflagration at the consulate was an extension of other unrest. Sadly, the four victims were likely caught by surprise.
As for the changes in administration's talking points, post incident, this decoy statement is completely deceiving. Every Congressman, including Issa and all his colleagues, routinely change talking points on press releases, speeches or public statements. Repeating, "What difference does it make...?", as Secretary of State Clinton said. The facts are indisputable An American Ambassador was killed in Benghazi. These facts were not altered.
Finally, in the Gregory interview, Issa asks an important and unresolved question about the Benghazi incident. Could security have been better? You bet it could.
Therefore, in the circular reasoning Congressman Issa created, he finally raised a conclusion with which all Americans will agree.
Congress should focus on the root cause of the Benghazi incident and, additionally, how to prevent another tragedy.
Muckraking Benghazi does not honor the four Benghazi victims. Moreover, Ambassador Stevens is, sadly, no longer here to defend his decision to visit the consulate in Benghazi on September 11, 2012.
Congressman Issa and his conservative colleagues should use their tax payer funded salaries to improve the American human condition. Instead, they appear to prefer wasting resources by creating confusion and engaging in circular reasoning.
Labels: Benghazi, Charles Durning, Congressman Darrell Issa, David Gregory