There are a lot of offensive ways to observe 9/11. A yoga studio near DC offered a 20 percent off sale ("9 + 11 = 20 PERCENT OFF!"), and a sex toy company soberly tweeted remembrance of "those lost, & honor those still fighting for freedom." But the most off-putting way to remember the terrorist attacks on 9/11 was by Rep. Louie Gohmert, who thinks of Sep. 11 as the anniversary of Benghazi, or as he says it, "BENGHAZI!!"
If this were a just world in which a person was judged by his merits and rose in life accordingly, Louie Gohmert would be relegated to writing the sorts of letters to the editor that are never published. He is a cranky man who needs no tin foil to achieve flights of self-assured delusion. He should be mowing lawns for a living and attending John Birch meetings in the evenings. But he's from East Texas, so he's a congressman.
It's guys like Gohmert who have earned congress record-low approval ratings, lower even than colonoscopies, head lice, and root canals. Of course, liberals have their crazies, too. Go to any precinct meeting, and you'll encounter earnest activists in bedazzled sweatshirts who will insist that George W. Bush allowed 9/11 to happen so that he could invade Iraq so Halliburton could get the oil to make Dick Cheney wealthier. But we don't elect these people to congress.
Republican primary voters have decided to treat the United States House of Representatives like a tea party meeting and have turned the gavel over to folks like Gohmert, who believe—despite all documented evidence to the contrary—there remain legitimate questions about the president's birthplace.
Gohmert's crowd is called the Tortilla Coast Caucus after the Capitol Hill Tex-Mex restaurant where they meet with Ted Cruz to hatch really brilliant ideas like shutting down the government and defaulting on our debt. But even in this cabal of wizened souls, Gohmert stands out as the one who insisted to CNN's Anderson Cooper that pregnant terrorists were sneaking into our country to give birth to "terror babies" who could one day come back with American passports to kill us all.
In Gohmert's world, the Benghazi attack is ground zero for Obama's political malfeasance, the secret sin that deserves ALL CAPS COVERAGE at the next congressional hearing that starts Sep. 17.
"This administration needs to be held accountable, and we still need answers," he said at a press conference of the Benghazi Accountability Coalition.
Gohmert and many on the right believe that Barack Obama and Democrats covered up treasonous acts for political reasons, even though it was the Romney campaign that politicized Benghazi by holding a campaign press conference before the bodies were counted, much less buried.
Gohmert's questions have been asked in five previous congressional hearings. In Aug., the bipartisan House Intelligence Committee cleared the Obama administration of "deliberate wrongdoing" in Benghazi. The State Department's independent investigation, the House Armed Services Committee, and the Senate Select Committee have all debunked the fever dreams about "stand down" orders and other Republican myths.
There is no "there" there, yet here we are again, condemned to a travel an infinite Fox News feedback loop until conservatives find the moral courage to shout down the BENGHAZI!! wing of their party. The sad fact is that one consequence of the United States having a global reach is that we're attacked globally. Under Bush, there were 13 fatal attacks on our embassies and consulates. When we are attacked, we are all attacked, and we should stop acting like partisans and start acting like patriots.
The attack on our consulate in Benghazi was one such attack, and it was not a small event, but the Republican rush to judgment that Obama had a political motive in his response that continues to this day is small and petty. The continuing Republican attack on Benghazi elevates lunacy to equal standing with the facts, preventing us from dealing rationally with the real world. It's time for Republicans to put Gohmert down in front of the cartoons with a juice box. We've got enough real problems in the world without making up fake ones.
© Copyright 2014 Jason Stanford, distributed exclusively by Cagle Cartoons newspaper syndicate.
Jason Stanford is a regular contributor to the Austin American-Statesman, a Democratic consultant and a Truman National Security Project partner. You can email him at [email protected] and follow him on Twitter @JasStanford.