Former U.S. Representative Allen West broke embarrassing new ground in the politicization of the 2012 attack against the U.S. mission in Benghazi, Libya, when he suggested that the abduction of 200 Nigerian schoolgirls by terrorist group Boko Haram is somehow a smokescreen to distract Americans from the Benghazi attack.
“Are we witnessing an Obama ‘Wag the Dog’ moment with Boko Haram in Nigeria? I say yes,” West wrote on his blog on Monday. “Consider all the scandals facing the Obama administration, especially Benghazi and the Select Committee, which Rep. Nancy Pelosi referred to as a ‘political stunt.'” West then went on to list a number of discredited conspiracy theories related to Benghazi, before suggesting, “So what better time than right now, to create the straw man of Boko Haram, another distraction for which no real action will take place.”
West’s accusation — that the Obama administration is actively exploiting the kidnapping of 200 girls to distract from a baseless faux-scandal about Sunday show talking points — is perfectly awful. But it’s far from unique. In fact, West is just the latest in a long list of Republicans to see Benghazi lurking in the shadows of just about every major news story to break over the past two years.
Here are five other ways that the right has accused the Obama administration — and the “liberal media” — of distracting you from what’s really important: #Benghazi.
Donald Sterling’s Racist Breakdown
Before he was spreading Boko Haram conspiracy theories, Colonel West was warning anyone who would listen that the media was focusing on Los Angeles Clippers owner Donald Sterling’s racism scandal to distract you from the horrible truth about Benghazi.
“[T]he media lead us along like sheep to the slaughter, turning us into reactionary, shallow thinking, low-information voters along the way,” West wrote on his blog shortly after the controversy erupted. “We know more about Sterling than Benghazi — or the IRS scandal.”
He later took his case to Fox News, complaining that “the outrage of the public seems to be totally focused on Mr. Sterling but, you know, you’ve got this thing with Benghazi and we have an even bigger lie, an even bigger deceit, which is even more impactful on the country that no one is really caring about.”
The Crisis In Syria
The civil war in Syria has been a brutal, devastating crisis that has claimed the lives of at least 150,000 people. When Bashar al-Assad crossed the Obama administration’s “red line” by using chemical weapons against civilians, the White House prepared to take military action.
To congressional Republicans, however, the president’s real purpose was clear.
“One of the problems with all of the focus on Syria is it’s missing the ball from what we should be focused on, which is the grave threat from radical Islamic terrorism,” Senator Ted Cruz (R-TX) said in September. “When [the Benghazi attack] happened, the president promised to hunt down the wrongdoers, and yet a few months later, the issue has disappeared. You don’t hear the president mention Benghazi. Now it’s a ‘phony scandal.'”
Rep. Joe Wilson (R-SC) was even more direct, and alleged an even greater conspiracy:
“With the president’s red line, why was there no call for military response in April?” Wilson asked Secretary of State John Kerry during a hearing. “Was it delayed to divert attention today from the Benghazi, IRS, NSA scandals, the failure of Obamacare enforcement, the tragedy of the White House-drafted sequestration or the upcoming debt limit vote?”
On May 6, the Obama administration released its quadrennial National Climate Assessment, warning that climate change will have a devastating impact on the United States.
Although the report is legally mandated by Congress and published every four years, no matter which party controls the White House, Fox News still saw a more nefarious motivation for the sobering report.
“The White House is set to unveil a dire new report on global warming. But with multiple scandals swirling around the administration, is it just to distract Americans?” America’s Newsroom host Bill Hemmer said on the morning that the report was released.
One day earlier, The Five co-host and former Bush administration press secretary Dana Perino criticized President Obama’s plan to do interviews on the report with meteorologists, complaining that they weren’t sufficiently Benghazi-centric.
“I hope they ask him about Benghazi,” Perino said. “Like the weatherman from Montana should ask him about Benghazi, that would be great. I dare you.”
The IRS “Scandal”
Although allegations that the Obama administration directed the IRS to harrass the president’s political opponents are completely unfounded, many Republicans still hoped that it would be the scandal that finally brought Barack Obama down.
Michele Bachmann was too smart for that, though. In May 2013, she revealed what the IRS scandal was really about. You can probably guess the answer:
Why would an administration ever confess to such a flagrant misuse of politics and power?
Bachmann, who chairs the House Tea Party caucus, said it’s the Benghazi scandal.
“There’s no doubt this was not a coincidence that they dumped this story today, a Friday dump day,” Bachmann told [WorldNetDaily]. “This is when they put their negative stories out.”
But she said the looming storm cloud called Benghazi is the “soft underbelly” of the Obama administration and likely will keep Hillary Clinton from fulfilling her dream of occupying the Oval Office.
That would make it logical to release an IRS story that, while embarrassing, also could be cubbyholed as another “conservative” dispute with the White House….
Bachmann said the IRS announcement of misbehavior was intended to provoke conservatives and draw their anger and attention.
“I was in that Benghazi hearing,” she told WND. “I think the Obama administration is desperate to spin Benghazi, and they can’t. I think they saved this story up for a day like today so that conservatives would focus on this admission.”
The Shoe Attack Against Hillary Clinton
Perhaps the most devious distraction from the Great Benghazi Scandal came in April, when Hillary Clinton supposedly arranged to have a shoe thrown at her head to discredit those pushing for the truth about the Benghazi attack.
Failed presidential candidate Herman Cain got the conspiracy ball rolling on Twitter:
— Herman Cain (@THEHermanCain) April 15, 2014
And before long, Rush Limbaugh connected the dots.
“I don’t know why anybody would be throwing a shoe at Hillary,” he mused on his radio show, “unless, maybe it’s an attempt to make the Benghazi people look like nuts and lunatics and wackos.”
If that was really Clinton’s plan, there’s only one thing left to say: Mission accomplished.
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