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‘Scandal Envy’ Behind Petraeus Drama, Allegations Obama ‘Ignored’ Benghazi?

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Commentary | Is “scandal envy” the reason behind the non-starter Benghazi brouhaha and high-school shenanigans that supposedly comprise the massive Gen. Petraeus scandal?

The question of scandal envy was considered this week in a Salon-carried American Prospect piece centering on the Benghazi debate and Petraeus handwringing, a study in continual attempts by his opponents to paint President Obama as inept, incapable, sympathetic to a number of factions supposedly hostile to the American way of life, or just flat-out illegitimate.

The scandal envy suggestion seems, at least to many on the left, as a plausible explanation for why a series of allegations seem to be so damning to some and so head-scratching to others. (To put it delicately, diffusion of coverage on … certain news outlets … may also be in part to blame.) And as an openly left-leaning individual myself, I share the befuddlement many liberal pundits and newsmen and women seem to express in working out, even now, how Obama may have “ignored” Benghazi or why we are supposed to be so angry that four Americans were tragically killed in an attack on a diplomatic entity in a dangerous zone — a circumstance that is tragic, but not a surprise.

For weeks during the election, seemingly unlinked stories on The Inquisitr were beset with comments circling back to the non-sequitur. Like the appearance of the tides or the rise of the sun, if President Obama made an appearance on a campaign stop or got a hug from a baby, commenters would rail, “Well, WHAT about BENGHAZI? What did he know and when did he know it?”

And even now, as the Benghazi “scandal” has been in the news for weeks, many lefties have no idea why this is seen as a coverup on the right rather than a a surprise attack on our consulate that was not, at first, something we fully understood. On last night’s Real Time With Bill Maher, Maher lamented that he had, in the course of the controversy, remained unable to tease out any possibly scandalous angle. And in a post-election, broad sense-making rant, MSNBC’s Rachel Maddow stated simply: “Benghazi was an attack on us, not a scandal by us.”

The Petraeus issue as well seems so imprecisely framed as an Obama administration failure rather than what it so clearly appears to be — a man who, unrelated to the Presidency’s dealings was none too skilled at hiding his own personal indiscretions and an inevitable eruption of mistress jealousy. But what did he know and when did he know it? We’re only asking the hard questions here.

It’s not as if, contrary to right-wing dogma, Obama is beyond reproach with the left. He’s been pilloried for enforcing federal marijuana laws, the NDAA, continual and imprecise drone strikes that lack “surgical” accuracy, the successful absconding with American wealth by Wall Street scam artists — I could go on. The idea that Obama has escaped scrutiny simply does not hold up when examined even loosely.

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Which is where scandal envy seems a fitting explanation for the continual insistence that a series of minor news blips are somehow evidence of a grand Obama administration conspiracy to … well, we’re not sure exactly, but it’s probably bad and involves Muslims, Marxism, the Black Panther Party and “Chicago thugs.” What did he know and when did he know it?

Paul Waldman explains:

“So what’s going on here? I can sum it up in two words: scandal envy. Republicans are indescribably frustrated by the fact that Barack Obama, whom they regard as both illegitimate and corrupt, went through an entire term without a major scandal. They tried with ‘Fast and Furious,’ but that turned out to be small potatoes. They tried with Solyndra, but that didn’t produce the criminality they hoped for either.”

Waldman continues:

“Obama even managed to dole out three-quarters of a trillion dollars in stimulus money without any graft or double-dealing to be found. Nixon had Watergate, Reagan had Iran-Contra, Clinton had Lewinsky, and Barack Obama has gotten off scott-free. This is making them absolutely livid, and they’re going to keep trying to gin up a scandal, even if there’s no there there. Benghazi may not be an actual scandal, but it’s all they have handy.”

And Bush — Bush rode into office on a horse named Scandal, in the most ambiguous election in recent memory. He followed that act with a massive intelligence failure leading to the deaths of 3,000 Americans on American soil, an investigation resultant that was notable only in that the 9/11 Commission later observed they’d been continually blocked in seeking answers.

Still, we had a war in the unrelated country of Iraq, trashing our international credibility by lying about “weapons of mass destruction” and barging in to the tune of 4,500 more Americans needlessly dead as well as an untold number of Iraqi civilians. Hurricane Katrina then hit, and a bungled response led to 1,800 more Americans dead. The deficit soared and the economy crashed, leaving millions out of work.

And “scandalously,” the current administration has yet to clear the smoking ruins a scant four years on. Aside from that, Obama himself is frustratingly scandal-free. Not a single “bombshell” against him has borne fruit, no blabby interns or tax cheating or dubious investments or even a devastating weather event a week before the election managed to tarnish what has to be the cleanest record in modern political history.

Ultimately, it seems outside a core audience of a certain newschannel, the attempt to make cake out of water for Benghazi has been unfruitful. But it would serve viewers well to consider a single question when such allegations arise — to what end and who would this serve?

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8 Responses to “‘Scandal Envy’ Behind Petraeus Drama, Allegations Obama ‘Ignored’ Benghazi?”

  1. Patrick Frye

    Why is Benghazi a scandal? The short version is that Obama was allegedly watching the Benghazi attacks live, received requests for help from the CIA operatives that were turned down by him and his military advisers, this decision resulted in deaths, and then someone in the Obama administration changed the CIA reports to downplay terrorism and national security right before elections.

    If that's all true then Obama "should" be dealing with a scandal. Instead, Petraeus is made to be the bad guy. While Petraeus is definitely in the wrong, the affair/sex scandal is made to be more important in the news. Petraeus has stepped down and has acknowledged his wrong. Obama is still in a position of great authority and if the allegations are anywhere near true there should be some repercussions.

  2. Kim LaCapria

    I linked to your post in my post, as has been traditional for Inquisitr writers in dueling op-eds, Patrick.

    The State Department has said that “Nobody at the Department had the ability to watch either of the attacks in real time.” Video was not recovered until 20 days after the attack.

    Generally, I try to stay away from conspiracy theory as I feel it undermines credibility. Unless anyone has actual, vettable proof that Petraeus is a fall guy, it's best not to treat it as a foregone conclusion. This whole "if this then that" school of what makes news is not a favorite of mine.

  3. Patrick Frye

    Didn't notice the cross-linkage. Was just trying to explain in short form for any readers. And I wouldn't say that Petraeus is a "fall guy". It's just that what he and others are saying about the Benghazi incident are being ignored in favor of the affair scandal.

  4. Kim LaCapria

    I would guess, and have felt since this became a controversy, that the information was either incomplete due to it still being collected, or deliberately obscured for the purposes of protecting ops in compromised areas.

    Just because we can't know all of something as it unfolds does not mean there is malfeasance, simply that there may be a good reason we aren't learning the whole story right this second. Added to the fact that violent protests were occurring worldwide and the media was reporting from the ground, and it seems like a garden variety tragic attack on Americans abroad.

  5. Patrick Frye

    Just noticed that Petreaus said he doesn't know who deleted the terrorist references from his notes. He even drafted talking points on it for the White House and was surprised by Susan Rice's announcement. But he’s relatively certain it was done to avoid tipping off the terrorists. Of course, the Youtube guy became the real fall guy out of all of this. I wonder if anyone bothered to apologize for that?

  6. Kim LaCapria

    Why should they? He was a criminal from what I understand, charged with a legitimate crime. No one needs to apologize for anything, this apology fetish we have in the media is distracting. I'd rather the government just do their jobs.

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