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Hullabaloo


Wednesday, May 08, 2013

 
Scandal mongering 101: the Tillman gambit

by digby

Any Washington scandal watcher could see this coming a mile away:

The mother of one of the state department officials killed in the Sept. 11 Benghazi attack pointed the finger of blame directly at former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton on Tuesday.

Pat Smith's son, Sean Smith, was one of the four Americans killed last year when the diplomatic mission in Benghazi, Libya, was attacked. Speaking to CNN's Jake Tapper the day before three State Department witnesses are set to deliver congressional testimony on the event, Smith expressed outrage at what she claimed was the continued refusal by officials to give her information about the events that lead up to her son's death.

After viewing a clip of Clinton's heated response to questioning during Senate testimony in January, Smith said she ultimately held Clinton accountable for the failure to protect Americans at the U.S. diplomatic mission in Libya.

"I blame her," she said. "[T]hat's her department. She is supposed to be on top of it. Yet she claims she knows nothing. It wasn't told to her. Well, who is running the place?"

I'm going to call this the Tillman Gambit, named after the Tillman family's appalled reaction to the Bush administration cover-up of their son's death.

This is a classic Republican style scandal tactic: project one of their own real scandals onto the Democrats. If they're lucky the press will even attach a name that sounds similar so that people will automatically associate it in their minds. (Watergate=Whitewater, etc.) So far, "Benghazi" is a catch-all term for the GOP version of 9/11. (Yes, it's lame, but they have to work with they have.) The point, I believe has always been to tar Hillary with a scandal that will evoke a lizard brain reaction to the "Clinton Scandal" era among both Republicans and timorous Democrats. (Also too: revenge for the beating Bush took over 9/11 and Iraq. If the Democrats hit one of theirs, they are going to hit back.)

I think they see that Hillary Clinton is a very formidable opponent and they are seeking to wound her early and often. And the memories of the Clinton years are sweet for them in that way. They may have ultimately lost all the battles they waged --- and the Clintons certainly lived to fight another day --- but the right ultimately prevailed in dozens of different ways. And even if it doesn't stop the Hillary juggernaut, this is one of their tried and true ways of keeping their troops engaged and the Democrats on the defensive. It's just how they roll.

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