Benghazi fight symbolizes everything that’s wrong with Washington

Kevin McCarthy, (R-Calif.), took heat for saying Libya probe hurt Hillary Clinton’s poll numbers.
Kevin McCarthy, (R-Calif.), took heat for saying Libya probe hurt Hillary Clinton’s poll numbers. AP

The Benghazi hearings in Congress are not really – or not primarily – about determining why four Americans died in the chaotic Libyan city in 2012.

We all know that. But in the kabuki theater that is national American politics, we have all focused more on the political parlor game of guessing whether Republicans could achieve their real goal – denting Hillary Clinton’s 2016 presidential bid – without looking terribly crass in the process.

Likely future House Speaker Kevin McCarthy’s truthful “gaffe” of admitting the same on Fox News stripped the mask away, and now we’re all focused on the next D.C. parlor game: guessing whether Democrats – who are Outraged! Outraged! – can retake the political momentum and put Hillary back on her path to the White House.

I believe the Benghazi hearings started out as – mostly – a good-faith effort to find out why Ambassador J. Christopher Stevens and three others died. But it has long since become something else.

According to this Washington Post story, when the House Benghazi committee subpoened Clinton confidante Sidney Blumenthal, he was reportedly asked more than 200 questions about the Clintons, far more than he was asked about Benghazi.

We know this, like so many of the details dribbling out of this inquiry, from a politically motivated leak – likely by Democrats this time. A source who was reportedly in the room for the 10:30 a.m. deposition said the word “Benghazi” didn’t come up in a question to Blumenthal until 6:30 p.m.

The committee’s chairman, Trey Gowdy, R-S.C., denies that, of course. No doubt, there will be future leaks from the GOP side aimed at making the Democrats and Clinton look just as bad.

This is what our national government has come to, folks. Two warring parties whose dislike for each other is just as unsophisticated as your average hometown high school football rivalry.

The one thing they share? The ultimate objective – winning.

So, Party A takes a tragedy and exploits it for political gain. Which is no more or less than Party B would do, given the cynical maneuvers they both leverage to manipulate the public. And Party A slips up, Party B gleefully takes advantage with fundraising emails to the base, selective leaks to the media, and the inevitable attack ad for the general public.

It’s like watching rival schools of sharks. Their competition reduces all else – budgets, policy, even the deaths of diplomats – to the level of secondary considerations.

People across the political spectrum are tiring of it. They are turning to the Trumps and Carsons and Sanderses, anything or anyone but the business as usual D.C. crowd.

The insurgents will flame out. They aren’t viable alternatives. But the GOP and the Democrats shouldn’t celebrate when it happens.

Voters won’t stop until they find the alternatives that are.


Eric Frazier