Is Benghazi Really a Bigger Problem Than Climate Change?



Last week, convergence on Nader's new book. This week, divergence as Matalin and Lamarche clash over party beliefs: the GOP shrugs at warnings about extreme weather though scientists agree and Miami sinks; Dems question need for a Select Committee on Hillary. Then: is death penalty dying?

On Climate Change. Citing scientific near-unanimity and floods, fire, droughts, the National Climate Assessment concludes that extreme weather is not just probable but happening. On other hand, Krauthammer and Will argue that nothing's for sure since Einstein a century ago upended physics. And while 65% of Democrats in polls think it's a worsening, man-made problem, only 25% of Republicans think so. Why this divide on a fact question?

Mary says that she's not a climate denier, that man-made pollution is a contributing factor, that she spends time in endangered New Orleans on adaptive methods like coastal restoration and that Dems shouldn't villainize opponents. But...climate's been changing for millennia and US role negligible. And it was Democrats who made it political by, in her view, opposing drilling in ANWAR (Arctic National Wilfelife Reserve) or largely partisan reasons.

Sounds like she's not denying that it's happening but whether it's a crisis worthy of big policy shifts.

Gara dryly notes that the stakes are pretty high to rely on the musings of two columnists and implies that Mary's being balanced though not fair. Since the GOP is full of climate-deniers - like all their candidates for governor of North Carolina - it's ok to label them the party of Climate Bagdad Bobs who are obstacles to sane environmental policies.

Why this partisan divide? Gara speculates that it's because whatever Obama and Gore are for, the GOP is against since there's no one of comparable stature creating a bridge to bipartisan agreement.

He adds Obama's doing what he should and can with Executive Orders on carbon and solar plus coming EPA rules on coal-fired plants. But bigger ideas like a "fee and rebate" idea to price/reduce carbon and rebate revenues directly to families will have to wait for a Democratic President, House and Senate.

Host: there's no doubt that Charles Krathammer and George Will are intelligent people and excellent writers. But in arguing that Einstein a century ago upended physics so scientific documentation today shouldn't drive policy is unfathomably stupid and dangerous.

"Maybe" is not a serious argument. Those two also say that peer pressure and vested interests spur the 97% scientific consensus and Democratic proposals...while ignoring vested interests called oil and gas and those who cling to disproven beliefs to stay prominent in conservative punditry.

On Benghazi Committee. The Host reminds all that Benghazi is an actual City not just a political football and that President Obama convinced NATO to attack Gaddafi after he said he'd kill all 800,000 residents there...then four Americans in our consulate were killed by local terrorists.

Should a line in Ben Rhodes's recent email about that anti-Muslim video justify a 7th investigation of what happened that night? Was there a conspiracy to cover-up political responsibility and leave our soldiers behind to die?

None of the six prior reports on this tragedy have shown that, says Gara. He thinks the Select Committee is a partisan action since we know that Petraeus vetted the Rice "talking points," the NYT showed that the video was an accelerant, that DoD secretaries Panetta and Gates said our assets couldn't get there in time...and the House GOP refused more funds to protect such consulates and sadly Ambassador Stevens ignored prior warnings.

Mary challenges some these of assertions, adding that perhaps Stevens was running guns to Syria out of that compound. She concludes that politics affects Climate and Benghazi both.

If voters watch the GOP obsess on Benghazi while ignoring immigration, gun safety, minimum wage, climate, is there a big risk of a backlash helping Obama this Fall as the Monica-impeachment obsession famously blew back on Republicans in the 1998 mid-terms? We listen to Nick Kristof lament that GOP domestic policy seems to be more floor votes to repeal ACA and its foreign policy seems to be to keep investigating Benghazi which is not a top foreign policy issue.

Last, Lamarche concludes that whatever happened that night and week, it certainly doesn't appear to be the kind of criminality of the Watergate, Iran-Contra and Scooter Libby scandals that it's compared to.

This raises the secondary hypocrisy element. In a "Daily Show" segment, Jon Stewart thought that the party whose falsehoods mislead us into an Iraq war with hundreds of thousands of casualties should probably show more modesty when accusing Obama of lying about not policy but the 'Watergate' of Talking Points.

On Death Penalty after Oklahoma. Consensus! Gara's a lifer against the death penalty, having fought it at the Texas ACLU because it's ineffective and inhumane. Mary agrees citing her religious and pro-life values. Given the 140 or so exonerations due to DNA and zero European countries retaining capital punishment, they concur that the rushed Oklahoma execution/torture of Clayton Lockett by Governor Mary Fallin will and should hasten its declining popularity in America.

Gara adds that, in his experience, many Democrats have been craven in their support of the death penalty- including perhaps 42 and 44 -- because they didn't want to appear "soft on crime', a problem that became glaring after Willie Horton-attacks on Dukakis in 1988.

On Decline of Supreme Court. Why the decline and is imposing term limits a possible answer?

Mary attributes it to a decline in all American institutions. Gara notes that Bush-Gore and Citizens United "didn't help" the growing perception that it's becoming more political than judicial.

But neither is willing to wrap their minds around a big constitutional change to life-time tenure.

Mark Green is the creator and host of Both Sides Now.

You can follow him on Twitter @markjgreen

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