Wednesday, May 21, 2014


Regarding Nancy Pelosi's decision to name five Democrats to the Benghazi committee instead of boycotting it, I agree with Charlie Pierce:
The idea of a Democratic boycott of the committee was politically maladroit and pragmatically stupid. It is going to be of paramount importance to have someone in there, the way Barney Frank and Robert Wexler were there on the Judiciary Committee when it was considering the impeachment of Bill Clinton, and the way Richard Ben-Veniste was there to demolish the entire premise of the phony Whitewater scandal a few years earlier. Without participating, the Democrats would have been conceding the development of the narrative to the Kangaroo Kaucus not only among the Beltway opinion elite, but out in the country as well. As it happens, that's where the case for impeaching Bill Clinton truly fell apart. The Democrats who participated in that particular series of charades from 1992-1998 did a lot to hijack the issue in the dim frontierland beyond Washington. In a situation like this, the Democrats have one advantage -- they can illustrate the essential absurdity of the exercise until the country gets heartily sick of it.
No, Pelosi didn't pick Alan Grayson, but she did pick Elijah Cummings, who's shown in his battles with Darrell Issa that he's Alan Grayson for grown-ups -- not a prankster, but a combatant who's thoughtful as well as relentless.

I think Tammy Duckworth is an appropriate choice -- she's an Iraq combat veteran and a double amputee. As far as I can tell, not one of the Republican members of the committee has ever seen combat. (Mike Pompeo of Kansas is the only one who's a veteran -- he's a West Point grad -- but for most of his military career, which lasted from 1986 to 1991, he "served with distinction as a cavalry officer in the U.S. Army, leading troops as they patrolled the Iron Curtain before the fall of the Berlin wall," according to his campaign site.)

And then there's Adam Schiff, who's going to serve even though he made it clear two weeks ago, in a quiet way, that he has no patience for this:
Rep. Adam Schiff, California Democrat, said Sunday that it doesn't make sense for Democrats to give any more credibility to the newly-announced select committee on Benghazi than it deserves, "and frankly I don’t think it deserves very much."

"I think it's a colossal waste of time," Mr. Schiff said on "Fox News Sunday. "We've had four bipartisan investigations of this already."
Watch the clip. Without being Grayson-esque, Schiff does a fine job of communicating a simple message to Chris Wallace of Fox News: Enough already.

From the transcript:
WALLACE: Congressman Schiff, you have said that the Benghazi and you put it conspiracy theories are a terrible distraction from the real issue which is bringing the people who killed these four Americans to justice. Is this house committee part of that distraction? And how certain are you that Democrats will participate and put since it’s a select bipartisan committee, will put members on the committee?

REP. ADAM SCHIFF, D-CALIF., INTELLIGENCE COMMITTEE: Chris, I think it’s a colossal waste of time. We’ve had four bipartisan investigations of this already. And I think it's driven by a couple things. The Republican conference is so fractured, there's only two things they agree on, they don’t like ObamaCare and so, we've had 50 votes on that and they do like talking about Benghazi. So, we've had four investigations on that.

But I don't think it makes sense really for Democrats to participate. I think it's just a tremendous red herring and a waste of taxpayer resources. So, I hope the speaker will reconsider. But it looks like he has bowed again to those from the farthest right of his conference.

WALLACE: When you say you don’t think it makes sense for Democrats to participate, you’re saying that you think that the Democrats should not appoint anybody to the special committee and let it simply be Republicans holding this investigation?

SCHIFF: You know, that's what I recommend. I don't know whether leadership will ultimately decide. But I don't think it makes sense for us to give this select committee any more credibility than it deserves. Frankly, I don't think it deserves very much. We tread down this path so many times.

In terms of this Rhodes memo, if you look at this four-page Rhodes memo, there's only two sentences that pertain to Benghazi which track exactly what the CIA talking points were. So, it's very hard to use this memo as some kind of a justification.
That works for me.


aimai said...

I agree with you Steve. I think refusing to participate really wouldn't help. I also think that Grayson is an enormously egocentric loose cannon. I'm pretty sure the others probably didn't think they could work with him.

Erik C. said...

Hmm, I was in the Cav in the late 80s, too.

Wonder if that Pompeo dipstick was in my unit or at least wore the same patch...

Chris Andersen said...

While I can understand the emotional appeal of a boycott I agree that doing so would just be stupid. Democrats are, if nothing, the party of responsible governance and you can't be responsible if you just leave the field to the other side.

Of course it's going to be a circus. But with Democrats on the committee they can call out the clown show for what it is and be taken seriously in their criticism. If the Dems had boycotted the media would preface every Dem criticism with a comment about how they refused to participate.

Paul said...

This got me thinking, there are really only two fake controversies. That's it, after 5+ years. Might be the cleanest presidency in history.

Paul said...

To clarify: Only two "big" controversies.

Victor said...

Ok, I had wanted Grayson on the committee, along with others, but you and aimai have convinced me he's not controllable enough in a situation where "Theatre of the Absurd" will again meet "Kabuki Theatre."

Julia said...

Cummings is going to be a hoot on there. Go Free State!

gocart mozart said...

How did the "let's not dignify these absurd accusations about my military record by responding." work out for John Kerry?