Iowa Republicans gathered in Des Moines last night for their annual Lincoln Day Dinner, one of the state party’s big fundraisers of the year. Last year they had 11 presidential hopefuls speak. This year was an understandably smaller affair, with their keynote speech given by Kris “Tanto” Paronto, an Army Ranger who was part of the team that responded to the Benghazi attack.
Paronto fit the Republicans’ anti-Hillary theme of the night well. As Kathie Obradovich wrote, the evening was much more about opposing Hillary Clinton’s candidacy than it was promoting Donald Trump’s, even if RPI Chair Jeff Kaufmann stressed unity for their own nominee.
But the usage of the Benghazi embassy attacks as a way to pummel Clinton have always carried with it the risk of using Americans’ death for political gain. It’s one thing to express concern over a tragic incident and push for reforms and responsibility. It’s another to turn the death of four Americans into a simple phrase to attack your political opponent non-stop on cable news and beyond.
And then it’s another thing to use it to raise funds for a political party, as the Republican Party of Iowa did Thursday night.
And then there’s Tamara Scott.
Scott, one of Iowa’s national committee members to the RNC, gave the opening prayer at the fundraiser. In it she chose to go right up to edge of responsible speech, and then jump over it head first. Because if using the tragic matter of Benghazi for political purposes isn’t enough, may as well bring God into it.
It started simply enough, thanking Paronto for his brave service.
“As we hear from our speaker, Father God, may we understand we’re in the presence of a modern day hero,” Scott prayed. “Someone who set aside his own best interest for those of others to help and to aid. Lord, we ask you to give him clarity and recall and strength as he shares with us the senseless and violent attack of Benghazi. And as we go forward we ask for your justice to take place concerning those attacks September 11th, 2012.”
Then she moved on to the victims of the attack.
“We ask you to comfort the families who lost loved ones,” she said. “Grant mental, physical and psychological and spiritual strength and healing to those who are still recovering.”
And then finally she jumped right ahead to calling for justice for the attacks. For the terrorists who committed it, sure, but also for those who ignored it.
“We stand on a promise, Father God, of justice,” Scott said. “For those who planned and carried out those attacks, as well as those who ignored the call for help. May you continue to reveal the truth of the facts, expose the cover-up, and may we have the strength and the will of justice to take place.”
Why, whoever might she be referring to when she asks God to bring righteous justice to those committing a cover-up?
The Iowa Democratic Party held a press conference earlier that day to contend that Donald Trump is actually the personification of the modern day Republican Party. But the Republicans did a pretty good job of defining themselves last night: an over-the-top mix of Fox News talking points, God and money.
by Pat Rynard