Not since Jan Brady uttered the immortal words “Marcia, Marcia, Marcia!” has so much sturm and drang been based on so little. I’d like to think that I follow politics pretty closely. I regularly watch MSNBC, Fox News and CNN. I read multiple newspapers every day. I frequently read fivethirtyeight.com, the Huffington Post, and the Drudge Report. I listen to talk radio during part of my commute – left wing, right wing, it’s all good. To borrow from Cheech and Chong’s old Basketball Jones bit, “I love politics so much, I am like a junkie.”
But I still don’t have a clue about what makes Benghazi scandalous.
I realize that the last sentence puts me in some pretty questionable company. It makes me sound like a “Clintonista.” But trust me, I’m not in that camp. I can actually get pissed off at the Clintons – or at least Bill and Hillary. (I never get too annoyed with Chelsea -- after all, if someone had offered me $75,000 a few years after I graduated from Stanford to talk about diarrhea, I would have probably taken the money too.) What makes a true Clintonista is that no matter what Bill and Hill do or say, you have to go on TV and defend them. Depending on the magnitude of the infraction, you’re free to start your sentence with “I certainly think what they did was regrettable.” But that has to be followed by a relentless ten-minute argument against (a) anyone who thinks the conduct revealed character flaws, (b) anyone who thinks the conduct was illegal, and (c) the vast right-wing conspirators. It’s OK if the arguments you make couldn’t hold up in a tenth grade logic class as long as you speak with certitude and passion. When it comes to the Clintonistas, the old adage applies: if you don’t have the facts, pound the law; if you don’t have the law, pound the table!
So I’m no Bill and Hill apologist. But I still don’t have a clue about what makes Benghazi scandalous.
This past Tuesday, Kevin McCarthy, the heir apparent to the Speaker of the House position, thought that he might shed some light on the situation. Appearing on Sean Hannity’s Fox News program, McCarthy confirmed the only thing about Benghazi that has ever made sense to me -- that the Republicans have been desperately looking for as many scandals as they can find, and Benghazi seemed like a reasonable place to go fishing. Here are McCarthy’s now immortal words: “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 and made that happen.” Hannity, himself a GOP insider, responded with equal veracity: “I agree. That’s something good. I give you credit for that. I give you credit for sequestration, I give you credit – I’ll give you credit where credit is due.”
I’ll give McCarthy credit too. He was honest. In fact, better than that, he was actually candid. I’ve heard the excuse that he was “tired” from having given so many interviews, but then again, that sounds like the excuse of a college boy who has a few drinks and then tells his supposedly Platonic “friend” about how sexy she looks. Drunk? Yes. Honest? Hell yes. Some eggs, you just can’t unscramble.
Does McCarthy’s statement establish, as a matter of fact, that there never was anything scandalous about Benghazi? That the Republicans’ outrage was phony all along? That the old “mon dieu” about Hillary’s mishandling of the situation in Libya was just one big fishing expedition and waste of taxpayer dollars? Arguably not. For me, what establishes those things is the combination of McCarthy’s statement and the fact that nobody – not Bill O, not Mark Levin, not Sean Hannity, not Matt Drudge, and certainly not the so-called “RINOs” who I also listen to – has ever been able to explain to me where the substance of the Benghazi scandal really resides. Walter Mondale once said of Gary Hart, “That’s a nice bun, but where’s the beef?” Yet for me, when it comes to Benghazi, I’m still looking even for the bun. As for the beef, I think we heard all we need to from would-be Speaker McCarthy.
To think, that man wants to be two heartbeats away from the Presidency. He may yet get his wish. But he also has helped to ensure that one of those heartbeats will be Hillary’s.