Correction: Thanks to the reader who astutely noted that I had confused John Wayne's nickname with Ronald Reagan's nickname.
I'm sure that somewhere inside the complex psychological machinery of the Republican-Conservative movement, the idea of fixating on the White House's handling of the Benghazi attacks makes perfect sense.
In general terms, great scandals work because they fit a larger narrative, connecting dots in ways that can seriously damage a politician's image.
On the other hand, Ronald Reagan's poorly-conceived decision to station Marines in Lebanon in 1983 — which led to the deaths of 220 American service members in a terror attack — had little impact on his reputation.
Within the conservative movement, there is an abiding conviction that Barack Obama and Secretary of State Hillary Clinton are more like Dukakis than Reagan.
In their view, the obvious errors that left Americans vulnerable in Libya, and the muddled communication from the White House that followed the deadly attacks, are a peg upon which a great basket of assumptions hang.
For large swaths of the Republican base, Benghazi has become just that kind of rallying cry. Put bluntly, it worked — at least on a limited basis.
In that world, proof now exists that Democratic weakness on issues of terrorism and radical Islam led directly to death for Americans.
But things have changed in Washington.
For one thing, the old Swift Boat mechanisms that used to send these kind of attacks viraling through the broader culture have grown creaky. The mainstream media is more leery of the Drudge Report and Fox News spin.
Rush Limbaugh is more of a kazoo than an amplifier.
A lot of conservative sources have thrown out so many crazy ideas — about birth certificates, Manchurian plots, secret Islamic loyalties, post-colonial vendettas, etc. — that their credibility on an issue like Benghazi is thin.
Meanwhile, polls show that Americans are generally pretty happy with Mr. Obama's foreign policy agenda. He led on that issue through much of the presidential campaign last year.
Republicans are also struggling with the fact that they have no solid foreign policy agenda to provide a foundation for their attacks against Clinton.
So maybe the State Department screwed up? Fair enough.
But what would you be doing differently in the Middle East? And are you really claiming that in a region that chaotic, you would never make mistakes, never drop a ball, never lose a life?
As the gang that preached WMDs and the imminent democratization of the Arab world, can you really claim that kind of infallibility?
In the end, it boils down to this: For the moment at least, Hillary Rodham Clinton remains the frontrunner for the Democratic nomination for president in 2016, if she chooses to seek the White House.
She is one of the most powerful and popular political brands in the country.
To plant Dukakis's helmet on her head will be no easy task, particularly for a bunch of guys from Congress (approval rating 9%) who most Americans don't recognize.