By Tom Watson and Peter Daou
Raise your hand if you thought the first Benghazi-themed political ad of this presidential cycle would be made by …. Hillary?
So radically has the political earth shifted since would-be Speaker Kevin McCarthy’s stunning but not surprising admission that the House Benghazi (and email) probe of Hillary Clinton was entirely driven by the Republican desire to bring down her numbers, that Democrats are now rightfully in full attack mode against the special committee.
The GOP had it coming.
Since the tragic deaths of four Americans in Benghazi three years ago, Republicans have sought to make political hay first against President Obama and then against the Secretary of State likely to succeed him in the White House. Their multiple and duplicative – and to the taxpayers, costly – investigations have been little more than a transparent effort to taint Hillary, allowing them to open a “second front” in the war to block America's first female president by creating the over-hyped email narrative.
Throughout the entire process, our national political press, beginning (but not ending) with the political desk of the august New York Times, have played the role of willing dupes, sucking down leaks from Trey Gowdy’s committee like so many peanut M&M’s after an attack of the munchies. The political press and the GOP strategy were like two upright poles leaning against each other to form an arbor through which Hillary’s political enemies could march – but those poles have been kicked away.
Ironically, the man slated to become the next Republican Speaker of the House did the kicking. In a show of hubris that gave rise to what we’ve dubbed “The New McCarthyism,” Rep. Kevin McCarthy explicitly admitted that the goal of the Benghazi committee was not to find the truth about the murders of four Americans serving overseas on a dangerous assignment, but to denude the political capital of Hillary Clinton.
“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.”
Those words are now carved into the 2016 campaign like a granite monument to the political truism that (still) reads: “Republicans will always go too far.”
Thus, you have the minority membership on the Benghazi committee – led by the redoubtable Congressman Elijah Cummings – boldly releasing “private” testimony to the public. And that testimony, by former senior State Department aide Cheryl Mills, entirely contradicts the cynical and false Benghazi storyline and indicts the journalists who took dictation from their Gowdy-directed and Koch-funded sources. As Rep. Cummings and his colleagues wrote:
We do not take this action lightly. We have held off on taking such action for more than a year, but we will no longer sit and watch selective, out-of-context leaks continue to mischaracterize the testimony the Select Committee has received.
Thus, you have Hillary speaking with renewed vigor about Benghazi and the email questions created by that committee. She is clearly a candidate looking forward to her public testimony on Oct. 22nd on Capitol Hill in what will amount to a nationally-televised “Day of Outrage” for Democrats, so generously arranged by the Republican Party. #HillaryMen can’t wait.
At a time when some wavering Democrats have grumbled about the Clinton campaign’s nimbleness and efficacy, the campaign’s swift and unconventional response to Benghazi should put the second-guessing to rest.
Some pundits are referring to the McCarthy admission as a “gift” or a “gaffe.” But it is neither. Rather, it’s an admission of the ugly truth in the kind of explicit manner rarely seen in Washington.
The New McCarthyism is a wager that the American people won’t care, that fear will allow the Republicans to continue to exploit their cynical and unethical (non)investigation for political purposes. But it is a bet they will lose.
It never pays to play politics on the graves of heroes.
Come November 8th, 2016, we at #HillaryMen invite Kevin McCarthy – if he’s the Speaker or still in Congress – to revisit his big question on Benghazi:
"What are her numbers today?"
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.