Bungling Republicans (Again)

“Everybody thought Hillary Clinton was unbeatable, right? But we put together a Benghazi special committee, a select committee. What are her numbers today? Her numbers are dropping. Why? Because she’s untrustable. But no one would have known any of that had happened had we not fought.”

House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy

Wednesday, Sept. 30, 2015

These were not impulsive and indiscreet remarks overheard by a nearby passenger on an airplane flight. Congressman McCarthy made this (now viral) statement on Fox News, in response to a question asking about accomplishments of the Republican majority. The fact is that Republicans have accomplished very little on Capitol Hill. That’s why Rep. John Boehner is leaving, and so should Senate Leader Mitch McConnell.

McCarthy has said something that is untrue. The Benghazi probe was not a political tactic against Hillary Clinton but a serious inquiry into American policy and the Benghazi debacle, which happened under her watch as secretary of State.

  1. The administration’s policy in Libya was a disaster, and conditions there had deteriorated.
  2. American Ambassador Chris Stevens had unsuccessfully sought additional protection.
  3. When he was under siege, our government did not -- or even try to -- provide support to rescue him and his colleagues.
  4. President Barack Obama, in the midst of his re-election campaign, had claimed victory over Al-Qaeda, so the administration went on television to assert that a video critique of Islamists was the reason for the unruly mob that mounted a sudden attack, when the administration knew that terrorists orchestrated and pursued this premeditated attack on Sept. 11, 2012.

The Obama administration lied for political reasons. And what does McCarthy do? He implies the essential investigation of this politically inspired cover-up was itself politically motivated. He has deprecated a momentous and continuing inquiry, and now, by implication, he casts an especially untimely shadow on the Benghazi hearings scheduled for October 22. He has played into the Bill-Hillary narrative that Republicans misuse tax dollars to bring down Hillary. He has, in effect, discredited the upcoming hearing as yet another political inquisition. Now Republicans, not Hillary, may be on the defensive as their motives are called into question.

More than two years ago, the House Foreign Affairs Committee conducted hearings on Benghazi. Democrats and Republicans respect Congressman Ed Royce, the able committee chairman who is renowned for his integrity and fairness. Royce is highly intelligent and well informed, hard working and conscientious. But he was no match for his Republican colleagues on the committee who made a mockery of the hearings.

Many of them sought their 15 minutes of fame by shouting poorly phrased questions at former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and interrupting her responses. No matter how she replied, her interrogator likely would not probe an area of weakness but instead ask a previously written shrill question or just go for a diatribe. Some of the committee members are not that bright, others are simply inept. As a group they seemed unable to strategize or coordinate with each other.