Jay Bookman

Opinion columnist and blogger with The Atlanta Journal-Constitution, specializing in foreign relations, environmental and technology-related issues

Ooops, there it is! GOP's incoming leader lets the truth slip about Benghazi


U.S. Rep. Kevin McCarthy, the man most likely to replace John Boehner as speaker, went on Fox News this week to try to bolster his standing as a tough guy among the Republican base. That's what he has been told they want, so that's what he attempted to give them.

As the segment opened, Hannity hit McCarthy with the results of a new Fox News poll: Sixty percent of Republicans feel they have been betrayed by their own political party, an admittedly impressive number. Are they justified?

"Yeah, they are justified," says McCarthy. "I'm one of them too." That's an interesting confession from the man serving in the No. 2 position in the House, where he could see this alleged betrayal firsthand. Of course, he then went on to blame it all on Republicans in the Senate, noting that the House had already voted more than 50 times to repeal ObamaCare.

Then McCarthy expanded upon his explanation.

"What you're going to see is a conservative speaker and a conservative caucus with a strategy to fight and win. Let me give you one example: 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."

Ah yes. The Benghazi special committee. Let's review, shall we?

The State Department inspector general, the House Intelligence Committee, the House Armed Services Committee, the House Oversight Committee, the Senate Intelligence Committee, the Senate Homeland Security Committee and the Senate Foreign Relations Committee have all investigated the tragic deaths of four Americans in Benghazi and have all issued reports. Those reports uncovered clear problems that needed to be fixed, but they largely if reluctantly exonerated the Obama administration of the worst charges against it and thoroughly repudiated the nonsensical conspiracy theories run amok on the right.

For example, here's how the Associated Press covered the final report of the GOP-run House Intelligence Committee, released quietly just before Thanksgiving last year in hopes that few would notice:

"WASHINGTON — A two-year investigation by the Republican-controlled House Intelligence Committee has found that the CIA and the military acted properly in responding to the 2012 attack on a U.S. diplomatic compound in Benghazi, Libya, and asserted no wrongdoing by Obama administration appointees.

Debunking a series of persistent allegations hinting at dark conspiracies, the investigation of the politically charged incident determined that there was no intelligence failure, no delay in sending a CIA rescue team, no missed opportunity for a military rescue, and no evidence the CIA was covertly shipping arms from Libya to Syria."

Even after all that, however, House Republicans decided in April 2014 that they needed to establish yet another committee to investigate Benghazi. As they did so, they piously rejected any notion that after seven full investigations, they were creating an eighth for the sole purpose of trying to wring political advantage out of the tragic deaths of four Americans killed in the service of their country.

Last month, that select committee became the longest running select committee in congressional history, outlasting the investigations into the Kennedy assassination and Watergate. That's almost unimaginable, especially coming on the heels of all those previous probes. And what has that select committee accomplished with all this time and millions of taxpayer dollars?

To quote our incoming speaker, "What are (Hillary)'s numbers today? Her numbers are dropping."

In perusing the Fox News poll mentioned above, I also noticed something interesting. Political scientists have noted that this far out from an election, poll questions asking people who will be elected the next president are more predictive of the outcome than asking them who they support. And when Fox asked conservative voters who our next president will be, here's what they found:

Just 4 percent of conservatives -- and 5 percent of Republicans overall -- think Jeb Bush will be our next president? But 18 percent believe it will be Hillary?

Better organize another committee, Mr. McCarthy.


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About the Author

Jay Bookman writes about government and politics, with an occasional foray into other aspects of life as time, space and opportunity allow.