I'm not even remotely a fan of the Clinton's, but with regard to how things are shaping up of late, one thing seems to be certain, 2015 has already been a bad year for America's conservatives and the Benghazi Hearings could just become the latest setback in what is shaping up to be a year of setbacks.
With two prominent Republican lawmakers and one staffer coming out and publicly declaring that the Benghazi investigation is nothing more than a anti-Hillary Clinton witch-hunt, to Ms. Clinton's performance last week in her testimony, Republicans find themselves in the midst of another self inflicted predicament. Some of Fox News's most vociferous critics: Charles Krauthammer, A.B. Stoddard and Tucker Carlson among them, appearing on Brett Baier's Special Report Friday admitted that Clinton was the clear winner in last week's Benghazi hearings. The moderately conservative David Books, commenting on Friday's PBS News Hour, alluded to a "certain psychosis" that has held the G.O.P. in it's grip since 1991 as it relates to repeated attempts to tie the Clintons to one scandal or another. His counterpart, the liberal Mark Shields added that, on every occasion, conservatives have overshot their mark only helping the Clinton's grow stronger. Is this psychosis ridden G.O.P. capable of charting a viable path to America's future, not likely.
This was to be the year that a new Republican Congressional majority was supposed to prove to the American people, in the run up to the 2016 presidential elections, that it could actually govern. Yet as we enter the 10th month of their new year, precious little has been accomplished. Instead of a track record of legislative accomplishments we have seen an inordinate amount of time spent chasing Hillary Clinton, voting to repeal the A.C.A., threatening to shut down government, avoiding coming to grips with the seismic shifts underway in modern day America, be it same sex marriage, climate challenges, guns, Obamacare or the festering problems of race and income inequality.
Yeah, those who were hoping to see Hillary led away in hand cuffs will now desperately go through all of the mental gymnastics that comes with constructing a new line of attack based on new e-mail revelations, conversations with Chelsea or Egyptian officials ad infinitum, none of which may in fact spell doom for Clinton. Quoting Peter Roff of U.S. News and World Report (USNWR): "What the hearings didn't do is find the smoking gun, largely because the Republicans leading the investigation didn't define in advance what it was. No member of the committee from Chairman Trey Gowdy on down the line bothered to lay out in advance just what it was they were looking for, what they expected to learn by keeping Clinton in the witness chair for nearly half a day....For all they have exposed (and it is a great deal of new information), committee Republicans have yet to connect the dots to anything. Perhaps that will come later. The fact that she lied, that she said one thing in private and another thing to the public, is interesting; it is not necessarily disqualifying or criminal. We have come to expect that from our politicians."
Other political commentators have pointed out that Republicans have generally avoided broader inquires into America's faltering foreign policy in the Mid East because in the end their side is much to blame for the larger failure in the region which predates the rise of Barack Obama. Here are but two examples: Pat Garofalo's article The Real Benghazi Scandal: " Time and again, the U.S. has unleashed sectarian strife by getting in the middle of a country's civil war, unprepared for what would follow and with no real allies on the ground. Conservatives like to argue that the problem is in the lack of commitment to the "building democracy" phase that comes after the intervention, but Iraq proved the folly of that notion. The better course of action is to stay out in the first place, a lesson President Barack Obama seems to have learned well when it comes to Syria. Republicans during the Benghazi hearing didn't want to bring any of this up because they, by and large, believe more and bigger American bombs are the solution to every conflict. Casting aspersions on the Obama administration's Libya flop would implicitly call into question their desire to get the U.S. into more Middle Eastern conflagrations." In a second, Michael Brendan Dougherty, of The Week writes that Benghazi was really about a gun running operation to Syrian rebels and that far from being a shrinking violet when it comes to aggressive foreign policy, Obama is recklessly aggressive, just in a different way than was George Bush and the neocons. Quoting Dougherty: "Far from being a secret Muslim who was indifferent to the death of an American diplomat, or a progressive peacenik who resents U.S. leadership, Obama was something much more destructive to the interests of Americans — he was a typical American hawk...The fact is that the opposition party in America can't honestly investigate Obama's foreign policy without doing fatal collateral damage to its own. And so Hillary Clinton can say in public that the intervention she championed in Libya is "smart power at its best," even though that country is being terrorized by ISIS and other jihadists and is one source of the refugee crisis. The supposedly mean-spirited GOP that would do anything to attack Clinton has run into something it won't do: challenge our recklessly hawkish foreign policy."
Thus what we most likely have here is a Republican attempt to cherry pick Clinton's failures and mistakes, while avoiding their own, and package same into a "gotcha" game ending conspiracy that will derail her presidential ambitions and at the same time feed red meat to the G.O.P.'s extreme right wing. This strategy will, more likely than not, backfire leaving the Republicans with little to show for their efforts other than a heightened level of passion and anti-Clinton animus on it's far right. The reasons why I believe their strategy will backfire is because even while most Americans don't fully trust Hillary Clinton, on Benghazi or in general, they trust Congressional Republicans even less. In fact even half of the Republicans responding to a recent poll believe that the Benghazi Committee is politically motivated. Furthermore, after so much time and so many reports, cited below, that dispute Republican charges of cover up and conspiracy on the part of the Obama administration, I believe that the public has generally grown weary of Benghazi as a topic. The Republican's predicament is aptly summed up by Matthew Dickinson writing for USNWR in his piece Defining Moment?, to wit: "So where does that leave the vast bulk of Americans, few of whom are likely to have bothered listening closely to 11 hours of partisan squabbling? Heading into the hearings, polls indicated that by a 2-to-1 margin, Americans remain unsatisfied with Clinton's explanation of what happened during the Benghazi attacks. At the same time, however, almost three-quarters of Americans surveyed believe the House committee is holding the Benghazi hearings for political reasons...For most Americans, it is likely that yesterday's theatrics will not prove nearly as important in determining their vote a year from now as will their assessments of the bread-and-butter issues – the state of the economy, whether the nation is at war (and whether we're winning) and who is responsible for both – that traditionally determine the outcome of a presidential election. And we should all find that reassuring."
There is another realization that Republicans and the anti-Clinton mob may someday have to come to grips with and that is that Ambassador Steven's decision to set up operations in Benghazi and to rely to such a great extent on local militias may have in itself amounted to a grave miscalculation, with too much embedded risk from the outset. Retired Army General Colin Powell, appearing on Meet the Press in January of 2013 made this point to Andrea Mitchell: "[Benghazi]...this one incident, which is one of these-- one of these things that those of us in-- in government have been through many, many times, where suddenly an action happens late at night, you’re surprised. Somebody gets killed. Something gets blown up. And then the after-action reports start and everybody wants to know who was at fault, who was responsible? Why didn’t we keep this from happening? Well, you can't keep everything from happening. Benghazi was a very, very difficult one and a difficult situation and maybe they shouldn’t have been there in the first place." The American people, despite they're admiration for Ambassador Stevens and those who died along with him, may eventually, have to come to terms with the fact that his mistake in going to Benghazi may have set in train a complex series of events that just spun out of control, freighted with risks and their attendant outcomes that were, in the end too much for the security system to rectify to a satisfactory end. That realization will in turn make all of the controversy surrounding Benghazi a sideshow to the real event. Does that let Hillary Clinton off the hook? By default yes, but at the same time she and her lieutenants at the State Department wouldn't have been in position to make such mistakes if the initial mistake in setting up shop in Benghazi hadn't been made in the first place. Needless to say Hillary Clinton, beyond the issue of Benghazi, still needs to address, and dispatch with, the issue of trustworthiness if she is to truly be out of the political woods in 2016. That said, few would or could deny that Trey Gowdy and the rest of the Benghazi posse, based on her poll numbers since the debate and her testimony, have done much to help resurrect her candidacy for president of the United States in 2016.
Steven J. Gulitti
Republicans try to clean up McCarthy's Benghazi mess; http://thehill.com/homenews/house/255632-republicans-try-to-clean-up-mccarthys-benghazi-mess
Republicans in Apoplectic Meltdown Over McCarthy Gaffe; http://www.dailykos.com/story/2015/10/06/1428249/-Republicans-in-Apopleptic-Meltdown-Over-McCarthy-Gaffe
Fired Benghazi staffer: Committee is out to get Clinton; http://thehill.com/homenews/house/256598-fired-benghazi-staffer-panel-is-after-Clinton
Rep. Gowdy rips Republican for 'unfortunate' Benghazi remark; http://thehill.com/policy/national-security/257088-gowdy-refutes-fellow-republican-over-benghazi-panel
Republican: Benghazi probe 'designed to go after' Hillary; http://thehill.com/blogs/ballot-box/presidential-races/256982-gop-lawmaker-benghazi-probe-designed-to-go-after-Hillary
Second Republican Congressman Admits Benghazi Committee Was ‘Designed To Go After’ Clinton; http://thinkprogress.org/politics/2015/10/14/3712578/richard-hanna-benghazi-clinton/
GOP lands no solid punches while sparring with Clinton over Benghazi; https://www.washingtonpost.com/politics/clintons-benghazi-testimony-today-has-high-political-stakes-for-both-sides
Clinton emerges stronger for next phase of campaign; http://www.politico.com/story/2015/10/hillary-clinton-post-summer-bump-215098
Clinton largely unscathed by GOP Benghazi hearing; http://thehill.com/policy/national-security/257844-clinton-largely-unscathed-by-gop-benghazi-hearing
Clinton wins begin to multiply http://thehill.com/blogs/ballot-box/presidential-races/257894-clinton-wins-begin-to-multiply …
How Hillary Clinton Won the Benghazi Hearing; http://time.com/4084578/benghazi-hearing-hillary-clinton-analysis/
The Conservative Reviews Are In: Benghazi Hearing a Bust; http://www.bloomberg.com/politics/articles/2015-10-23/conservative-reviews-are-in-benghazi-hearing-a-bust
First Take: Benghazi hearing 'chaos' could help Clinton; http://www.usatoday.com/story/news/politics/elections/2015/10/22/hillary-clinton-benghazi-2016-gowdy/74388656/
2016 Democratic Presidential Nomination; http://www.realclearpolitics.com/epolls/2016/president/us/2016_democratic_presidential_nomination-3824.html
Americans Not Closely Following News on Benghazi Hearings; http://www.gallup.com/poll/171698/americans-not-closely-following-news-benghazi-hearings.aspx
Poll: 3-in-4 say Benghazi panel politically motivated; http://www.cnn.com/2015/10/22/politics/benghazi-committee-hillary-clinton-poll/
Poll: Half of Republicans Say Benghazi Committee is Political; http://www.mediaite.com/online/poll-half-of-republicans-say-benghazi-committee-is-political/
Americans skeptical of both Clinton, Republicans on Benghazi; https://www.washingtonpost.com/politics/americans-skeptical-of-both-clinton-republicans-on-benghazi/2015/10/21/76ed7bfe-7830-11e5-a958-d889faf561dc_story.html
Pat Garofalo: The Real Benghazi Scandal; http://www.usnews.com/opinion/blogs/pat-garofalo/2015/10/23/the-real-benghazi-scandal-is-clinton-and-obamas-failed-libya-intervention
Michael Brendan Dougherty: Why Republicans keep missing the giant Benghazi scandal right before their eyes; http://theweek.com/articles/584817/why-republicans-keep-missing-giant-benghazi-scandal-right-before-eyes
New Book Says C.I.A. Official in Benghazi Held Up Rescue; http://www.nytimes.com/2014/09/05/world/africa/new-book-says-cia-official-in-benghazi-held-up-rescue.html?_r=0
House probe rejects Benghazi criticisms; http://thehill.com/blogs/blog-briefing-room/news/225083-house-probe-rejects-benghazi-criticisms
G.O.P.-Led Benghazi Panel Bolsters Administration; http://www.nytimes.com/2014/11/23/world/middleeast/republican-led-benghazi-inquiry-largely-backs-administration.html
Ex-C.I.A. Official Rebuts Republican Claims on Benghazi Attack in ‘The Great War of Our Time’; http://www.nytimes.com/2015/05/04/world/middleeast/ex-cia-official-rebuts-republican-claims-on-benghazi-attack-in-the-great-war-of-our-time.html?_r=1
A Deadly Mix in Benghazi: False Allies, Crude Video; http://www.nytimes.com/projects/2013/benghazi/#/?chapt=0
Matthew Dickinson: A Defining Moment?; http://www.usnews.com/opinion/blogs/opinion-blog/2015/10/23/hillary-clintons-benghazi-hearing-wont-affect-2016-thank-goodness
General Colin Powell - Meet the press transcripts for 1/13/2013; http://www.nbcnews.com/id/50447941/ns/meet_the_press-transcripts/t/january-colin-powell-cory-booker-haley-barbour-mike-murphy-andrea-mitchell/