Benghazi Bashfest: An Outrageous and Cowardly Spectacle from the GOP

By Peter Daou and Tom Watson

David Gergen: "These hearings were very, very disturbing."  

Carl Bernstein: "You have to go back to the McCarthy era to see this kind of demagoguery. It was ugly. It was disgraceful."  

NY Times: "Hillary Clinton faced down a gang of spiteful Republican lawmakers." 

Few words can describe the unceasing and sadistic verbal assault directed at Hillary Clinton by Republican members of the Benghazi Committee.

Hour after interminable hour of disrespect and disdain, of pointless questions and crass political sniping, of partisan attacks and grandstanding.

All while using the graves of four American heroes as an excuse for a craven political agenda: the destruction of Hillary Clinton's campaign for the presidency.

The blatant gender bias undergirding the entire proceeding was unmistakable. No man would be subjected to this unjustified and un-American treatment.

At the outset of the hearing, we wrote the following:

As the first woman with a viable shot at the White House, Hillary is being subjected to tests that would demolish any male candidate:

  • Incessant media criticism with good news portrayed as bad, bad news portrayed as terrible, fabricated polls and GOP-fed spin
  • Poison-penned pundits with national platforms and axes to grind
  • Hundreds of millions of dollars spent by conservative oppo groups using focus-grouped negative frames
  • Deeply ingrained institutional gender bias that has barred ALL women from the U.S. presidency
  • Vicious and misogynistic rightwing trolls who spew Hillary-hate 24/7

All this and Hillary is the prime target of 20+ other candidates. 

It is no secret that women are held to higher standards than men:

Women CEOs among the Fortune 500 are found to have stronger qualifications than their male counterparts, according to a new research report by American Management Association (AMA). 

AMA examined the backgrounds and experience of Fortune 500 CEOs, of which 4.8% are women, an all-time high. Female chief executives were found to have earned more rigorous academic degrees, have greater work and life experience when first appointed, and proved more often to have worked their way up internally.  

“These statistics seem to show that women are held to different if not more demanding standards than men,” said Jeremey Donovan, Chief Marketing Officer for AMA, who authored the report. “What we learned suggests this applies to women at all levels. For instance, despite the fact that since 1982 more women than men have graduated from U.S. colleges with a bachelor’s degree only 1.1% earn $150,000 or more compared to 4% of men.”

In Hillary’s case, the higher standard is nearly a superhuman one – she is being made to endure more negativity and surmount greater hurdles than all other candidates combined.

The fact that she survives and thrives is a tribute to her indomitable spirit.

In the big picture, the Benghazi hearing, like the manic obsession with her emails, is yet another challenge in Hillary's American Ninja Warrior-style obstacle course of a campaign. No other candidate has ever had to deal with anything remotely like it.

At the hearing, Hillary's dignity, composure, stamina and stature outmatched and outclassed the petty, smarmy gang-up from Republicans whose sole mission was to derail her campaign.

Many metaphorical showers will be required to wash the stench off this deplorable spectacle.

A low point for the Congress and for America.

In the words of Rep. Elijah Cummings: "We're better than that."


Peter Daou and Tom Watson founded #HillaryMen to provide actionable analysis of the 2016 campaign focusing on the gender barrier in U.S. politics. Peter is a former senior digital adviser to Hillary Clinton and the Clinton Global Initiative. He is a veteran of two presidential campaigns (Kerry '04 and Clinton '08). Tom is an author and Columbia University lecturer who advises companies and non-profits on social activism.