According to Public Policy Polling (pdf), 74% of Republicans think that the Benghazi scandal is worse than Watergate. But I wonder: do these people even know what Watergate was about? That scandal has come to be a blanket term for a whole lot of presidential malfeasance. The Watergate break-in was just the loose thread that once pulled unraveled the whole shirt. But we can’t know what these Republicans think about Watergate because they weren’t asked. They were, however, asked if Benghazi was worse than Iran Contra and only 70% thought it was. And even more interesting, 74% think Benghazi is worse than the Teapot Dome scandal.
(Note: the worst thing about the Benghazi “scandal” is that it has forced me to learn to spell it! Look people: I have a hard enough time keeping the spelling of all the really useful words in my mind. There’s only so much space. I blame the Republicans.)
What are we to make of these numbers? I think it’s pretty simple: Republicans don’t like Obama. Because let’s face it, I doubt that 5% of Republicans have even heard of Teapot Dome and 1% know what it was. I suspect if you asked Republicans if Benghazi was worse than Judas betraying Jesus for 30 pieces of silver, they would say, “Yes!” I even know their argument: only one person died in Jerusalem whereas four people died in Benghazi! Okay, maybe they wouldn’t say that because most of them are Christians, but it does make as much sense as the argument, “No one died as a result of Watergate!” (Interestingly, the whole Benghazi “scandal” has been about what the White House said about Benghazi after the attack: the controversy is the “talking points.” No on died as a result of the talking points either, but that isn’t mentioned.)
If you think I am overstating the ignorance of the Republicans, just check out another part of the poll. PPP asked the “worse than Watergate” respondents where Benghazi was. Of them, 39% didn’t know. Here’s what they said:
- 10% Egypt (Close!)
- 9% Iran (Only 1,500 miles off!)
- 6% Cuba (6,000 miles!)
- 5% Syria (1,000 miles)
- 4% Iraq (1,000 miles)
- 1% North Korea (5,600 miles!)
- 1% Liberia (2,600 miles, but it does sound the same)
- 4% Didn’t know (Good answer!)
(I got the distances from this great tool: Distance From To. Check it out!)
I think the people who answered Egypt can be forgiven: it is close by and we have a similar relationship with that country. Similarly, those who thought it was Liberia: they got the first three letters right! But the rest are all, “Pick and enemy, any enemy!” It’s just silly and entirely typical of the conservative “good versus evil” mentality. They don’t need to differentiate between enemies; just like Justice Potter Stewart, they know ’em when they see ’em.
Beside the fact that Republicans don’t like Obama, this poll shows one other thing. Benghazi is a scandal for Republicans, only because they’ve been told it’s a scandal. By and large, they don’t even know what the scandal is. But it would be even bigger if they only knew that no one died in the Teapot Dome scandal either.
H/T: Eric Alterman