Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas) appeared on "This Week" yesterday and made a reasonable observation about the debate over U.S. policy in Syria. "Listen, this is not the time for politics," the far-right senator argued. "This is a grave and serious moment. I would like to support our commander in chief. I would like to see our commander in chief focused on protecting U.S. national security."
Good. Fine. No problem. It's a perfectly fair sentiment. But then Cruz kept talking.
Immediately after saying this is "not the time for politics," the Texas Republican added:
"One of the problems with all of this focus on Syria is its missing the ball from what we should be focused on, which is the grave threat from radical Islamic terrorism. I mean, just this is the one-year anniversary of the attack on Benghazi. In Benghazi, four it was the first ambassador since 1979."When it happened, the president promised to hunt the wrongdoers down, and yet a few months later, the issue has disappeared. You don't hear the president mention Benghazi. Now it's a phony scandal."
Actually, yes, it is a phony scandal. The attack that took place a year ago this week has been investigated thoroughly and every Republican conspiracy theory has been discredited. And yet, Cruz is annoyed that a current, ongoing crisis in Syria is getting in the way of the debunked "scandal" that conservatives would prefer to talk about.
And it's not just Cruz. This has quickly become a problem throughout Republican politics, with GOP lawmakers unable to even consider questions about Syria because they can't shake their Benghazi obsession.
This was certainly true during a House Foreign Affairs Committee hearing last week on Syria, when Secretary of State John Kerry hoped to answer lawmakers' questions about Syria, but was instead peppered with more Benghazi conspiracy theories.
The Hill added this report yesterday:
The first anniversary of the Benghazi, Libya terror attack is making it more difficult for President Obama to win support for a military strike against Syria.Tea Party lawmakers say the Obama administration lacks credibility on Syria because of the Benghazi attack.
This doesn't make any sense on a conceptual level -- one cannot lose credibility for failing to comport to a made-up conspiracy theory -- but this apparently doesn't matter. The usual suspects just can't help themselves.
The nation should be in the middle of a great debate on an important foreign policy question, but for too many on the right, this is apparently too much to ask.