Why Hillary is more like Dutch than Dukakis


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.

Michael Dukakis in that goofy What Me Worry tank helmet served as a kind of focal point for people's anxieties about his strength, his capacities as a potential commander in chief.

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.

69 Responses to “Why Hillary is more like Dutch than Dukakis”

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  1. Rancid Crabtree says:

    I find it laughable that the same group who wants every bit of information on everything the last administration ever did so they can be prosecuted for war crimes and other things has zero interest in finding out exactly what happened here and why we left 4 Americans to be raped and killed at a safe house that wasn't safe in a city where there was no need for an Ambassador to be in the first place.

    Your politics are showing people.

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  2. Two Cents says:

    mccain was a less than average pilot, and was given preferential treatment once the vietnamese realized his dad was in charge. enduring torture is not a pre-req for the senate, though i'm sure it helps him personally. his record in congress is none too eventfull for the 5 terms he has been there.
    he bucked his superiors during his service, and "flip-flopped" on the bush tax when it came time to do the right thing. he's a maverick all right. you'd think after spending time in a prisoner of war camp he would not be so fast to advocate bombing another ccountry, attempting humor by singing it. now that's disrespectfull -both to the beach boys and the rest of the men in service. he's pld, been beat three times for presidential election and should fade away into some airconditioned building to take care of his melanoma
    his plane was in the center of the Forrestall fire, i wonder if he started it?
    lets have a senate investigation…..

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  3. Peter Hahn says:

    Paul – four Americans including an Ambassador got killed so almost by definition we did something wrong. (and hopefully learned a painful lesson). That doesnt mean it was necessarily a scandal. And I havent heard anything yet that would put it in the scandal category.

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  4. Rancid Crabtree says:

    No way 2 cents, you dissed the mans performance as a POW. That's shameful. His political life isn't germane to the discussion. The original post was regarding courage. Your post makes me think you probably would find fault in a mother crying for her children at Auschwitz. Shame on you!

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  5. Rancid Crabtree says:

    Peter- WHY was the Ambassador there at all? There was no reason for him to be there in the first place and to go there without a real security team? Just start there and move on to SA7 rockets, Turkey, Syria, CIA and ask yourself if it all doesn't add up to at least the possibility of a coverup worthy of thorough investigation. And then ask yourself how you'd feel if it'd been Bush in the WH at the time and tell me what you'd want.

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  6. Peter Hahn says:

    Rancid – you mean like if someone drove a jet into the twin towers after lots of warnings….

    Like/Dislike this comment: Thumb up 3 Thumb down 1

  7. Paul says:

    Peter, I don't think there is a scandal.

    Like/Dislike this comment: Thumb up 1 Thumb down 0

  8. Two Cents says:

    i claimed, that his claim to fame was his POW-ness. and i stand by that.
    you on the other hand have rung the Nazi bell !! therefore declaring Godwins law, and according to blog rules you have lost the argument. sorry :(

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  9. Two Cents says:

    now that's funny!

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  10. Paul says:

    Two cents, we get it you don't think that McCain deserves to be a senator. I guess his constituents disagree.

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  11. Paul says:

    Folks why comment the people commenting? Stick to commenting on a topic.

    Like/Dislike this comment: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

  12. Paul says:

    Sorry I meant:

    Why comment on the people commenting?

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  13. Rancid Crabtree says:

    Yes Peter, or someone bombing Pearl Harbor or someone blowing up a Federal Building in Oklahoma or continuing to employ Russian spies in the WH.

    2 cents, I've lost nothing. You on the other hand have lost any credibility on the subject of honor and courage.

    Paul, why comment on the people commenting on people commenting?

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  14. Two Cents says:

    boo hoo. crashing three planes and starting your own ship on fire (my allegation :) ) doesn't make you a hero.
    the issue was not courage or honor, the issue is how does that experience translate into knowing how to govern?
    thank god he wasn't elected or we'd be in syria, up to our necks, not his.
    this is his last term.

    rancid, what you think of what i think means little to me

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  15. Peter Hahn says:

    Rancid – My point is that when those disasters happen, its the politicians in the opposition party that get outraged and try to make political hay while the politicians in the party in power defend the administration. That doesnt mean we need to take the outrage seriously.

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  16. mervel says:

    Well I don't think anything is going to come of it from a scandal perspective.

    Usually for a scandal you need some motive, money, sex, power etc, but in this case there is no motive. Now to the degree that they downplayed it in the press, that to me is not good I don't know if it is a scandal though. I am not sure we know what happened though and we do need to investigate that further, who were these guys? Now they are involved in Mali and Algeria so it is important to look at this case. Maybe our embassy security just sucks and we need to re-vamp the whole plan for it, not cheap but probably needs to be done. I used to believe it was all done by Marines, now we find out that no most embassy security is provided by subcontracted security firms. We could start there and look at bringing back the Marines and getting rid of these for-profit rats that seem to be infiltrating our entire armed forces.

    Like/Dislike this comment: Thumb up 3 Thumb down 0

  17. Rancid Crabtree says:

    Mervel, the motive is political power. We were routing arms to Syrian rebels through Libya and Turkey. Typical nation building black ops.

    Peter, when is it okay to be outraged at what our gov't does and to demand answers? Only when it's a Repub in office? That seems to be the case. Yeah, a lot of it if feigned, I know that. I want honesty to be in play. Instead, we're told none of it matters. That is a giant issue for me. 4 dead Americans is a giant issue for me. Missing or ignoring intel is a giant issue for me. If it isn't for you I have to ask why? Because it's a D in office and not an R?

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  18. If Clapton is God, Warren Haynes is Jesus says:

    Personally I don't judge McCain for his past military service, but on his actions as an elected politician. Because as a very powerful federal Senator he has the ability to shape laws, policies, procedures, etc. that directly affect me as a citizen. As a veteran he hasn't this type of power.

    Judging him as a politician, I view him as corrupt, (S & L scandal in the 80's), incompetent (choice of VP candidate in '08 was IMO an example of incompetence), and beholden to special interests that don't necessarily have the best interests of the citizens in mind (military/industrial complex/congressional complex, Big Pharm, Israeli lobby). McCain is also a good example of why we need term limits for Congress. He, as one elected representative, has grown too powerful over his decades long career. I believe it's this concentration of power among too few people that threatens our system of government. And this same threat comes from people on both sides of the aisle as there's certainly many Democrats who have overstayed their welcome. Harry Reid is such an example on the Democratic side of the ledger.

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  19. Rancid Crabtree says:

    Clapton, I agree 99%.

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