First Eric Cantor, then John Boehner, now Kevin McCarthy. All gone from GOP leadership.
The Tea Party trifecta in the House has been achieved in remarkable fashion. All three ultimately succumbed to the palpable (and justifiable) frustration of the conservative base over party leadership’s consistent betrayal of the base.
Although there are many factors that contributed to McCarthy’s downfall, one in particular has already proven politically devastating and shows no signs of going away any time soon.
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During an appearance on Fox News, McCarthy implied the House Select Committee on Benghazi was created to help take down Hillary Clinton’s candidacy:
“Everybody thought Hillary Clinton was unbeatable, right? But we put together a Benghazi special committee. What are her numbers today?”
This was a serious gaffe. Devastating even. No Republican official could afford to make, especially not a candidate for speaker of the house. McCarthy just handed Clinton and the Democrats a gift. His comments breathed new life into a Clinton campaign reeling from months of bad press and tanking poll numbers over her dubious explanations of using a private email address as secretary of state. As expected, within days of McCarthy’s comments, the Clinton campaign put up an ad using footage from McCarthy’s FoxNews appearance and a voice over claiming, “the committee investigating Benghazi and Clinton’s emails was created to destroy her candidacy.”
Of course, Congressional Democrats didn’t waste any time either seizing the opportunity to use McCarthy’s statements in an attempt to dismantle the entire bipartisan Benghazi Select Committee.
Rep. Louise Slaughter (D-N.Y.), who introduced a resolution that ultimately failed in the House, said the comments “called into question the integrity of the proceedings” of the committee and demonstrated that “the Select Committee established by Republican leaders in the House of Representatives was created to influence public opinion of a presidential candidate.”
That’s just great. All of this just weeks before Clinton’s highly anticipated October 22 testimony before Rep. Trey Gowdy led committee. And just like that, over a year’s worth of investigative work into the Benghazi attacks that led to the death of four Americans, undermined.
McCarthy tried to clear up his remarks, but the damage had been done. The credibility of anything the Benghazi committee uncovers about that 2012 terrorist attack will be called into question and dismissed as nothing but a political witch hunt. The Democrats tried that narrative before but the growing scandal surrounding the Clinton emails had doused those flames. Until now.
Folks inside the beltway were livid at McCarthy, especially committee chairman, Trey Gowdy. They fully understood the consequences of his mistake. Some believe it served as the final death knell in McCarthy’s speakership candidacy. As reported by the Washington Post, Rep. Dana Rohrabacher (R-Cali.) stood up during the GOP conference meeting prior to McCarthy’s withdrawal and lamented the magnitude of his gaffe in this exchange:
“The next election is the most vital one in recent history. If the liberal left keeps controlling the White House, we’re never going to retrieve the country we know and love,” Rep. Dana Rohrabacher (R-Calif.) said he told McCarthy. He was still stuck on the Benghazi comments. “Kevin, you just had a verbal blunder that has dramatically damaged our cause. I just cannot support you for speaker — just a few days after you said something so harmful to that cause.”
As Rohrabacher recalled, McCarthy then stood up to speak.
“I’ve learned from this mistake. I hope you all will forgive me,” McCarthy said, according to Rohrabacher. “I will make sure it doesn’t happen again.”
Rohrabacher said he rose again.
“Kevin, you need to not be in this race,” he said.
Rep. Rohrabacher understood and articulated the reverberating effect this would have. It’s continuing to play out as new reports of an apparent disgruntled former Benghazi Committee employee named Bradley Podliska alleges he was fired because he objected to the partisan turn the investigation took to focus on taking down Hillary Clinton. Perhaps he was emboldened to go this route by the opening provided by McCarthy’s initial implication.
[sharequote align="center"]There are no coincidences in politics.[/sharequote]
There are no coincidences in politics.
There are many reasons to be suspicious of Podliska’s wild accusations. The committee issued a strong statement disputing them all, explaining why Podliska’s allegations do not pass the smell test.
But that hasn’t stopped the mainstream media from running with the story or democratic operatives from taking the “see, we told you it was a political witch hunt” story line to the hilt.
Although McCarthy has been denied the honor of every yielding the speaker’s gavel, the real losers are the families of Tyrone Woods, Glen Doherty, Sean Smith and Ambassador Christopher Stevens, who have yet to get an honest answer as to what led up to the deaths of their loved ones. And the American people have yet to get an honest answer as to why the administration, including Hillary Clinton, went out of its way to blame an obscure YouTube video for the Sept. 11, 2012 attack, despite intelligence evidence to the contrary.
We were hoping the October 22 testimony before the committee by Hillary Clinton would help get shed some light on those questions and many others still unanswered. Unfortunately now, the democrats have plenty of political ammunition to distract from anything substantive that may come from the lengthy hard work of the committee. Thank you very much, Kevin McCarthy.
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