The GOP’s ‘get Clinton’ committee strikes

LEE A. DANIELS | 11/2/2015, 9:05 a.m.
Add another line to Hillary Clinton’s qualifications for the presidency: “Faced down the latest Republican Party attempt to wreck the ...
Lee A. Daniels is a longtime journalist based in New York City. His most recent book is Last Chance: The Political Threat to Black America. He collaborated with Rachel Robinson on her 1998 book, Jackie Robinson: An Intimate Portrait. NNPA

(George Curry Media) – Add another line to Hillary Clinton’s qualifications for the presidency: “Faced down the latest Republican Party attempt to wreck the Democratic Party and the two-party system in America.”

The woman who would be president – whose public career includes being first lady to a governor and a president, winning election to the U.S. Senate, running a tough campaign for her party’s presidential nomination, and service as secretary of state – last week met the greatest challenge to her candidacy with a resolve and clarity of explanation that couldn’t be shaken by the Republican members of the House Select Committee on Benghazi.

“We should debate on the basis of fact, not fear,” she told the committee in her opening statement. “We should resist denigrating the patriotism or loyalty of those with whom we disagree ... And my challenge to you, members of this committee, is the same challenge I put to myself. Let us be worthy of the trust the American people have bestowed upon us. They expect us to lead. To learn the right lessons. To rise above partisanship and to reach for statesmanship.”

Trey Gowdy, R-S.C., the chair of the committee Republicans had set up in the wake of the deadly September 2012 terrorist attack on a State Department compound in Benghazi, Libya, in which four Americans including the U.S. Ambassador to Libya were slain, declared at the hearing’s opening that its goal was solely to pursue “the truth” of why the attack succeeded.

It was not, he said to Clinton, “about you. Let me assure you it is not.”

But the committee’s true purpose had been perfectly captured by Washington Post cartoonist Tom Toles’ Oct. 21 cartoon.

Toles’ drawing shows Clinton and three Republican committee members seated at separate tables facing each other across an open space at the edges of the cartoon. Between them at the top of the space is a simple clothes rack with a long black dress hanging on it, a broom leaning against it on one side and a conical black witches’ hat perched on it on the other side.

Toles’ bubble comment has Gowdy asking Clinton, “... if you could put on the testifying outfit and take your seat ...”

It quickly became clear, however, that Clinton wasn’t about to let herself be labeled a sorceress or made a victim. “I’m sorry [the facts don’t] fit your narrative, Congressman,” Clinton said sternly at one point during a terse exchange with Republican Jim Jordan, of Ohio. “I can only tell you what the facts were.”

But, as the Toles’ cartoon indicated, Clinton was not the only one under scrutiny at the hearing. Indeed, the legitimacy of the committee itself had been all but erased in stunning fashion by the comments of two prominent GOP officials.

First, in early October Kevin McCarthy, who as House Majority Whip is the number two official in the House’s leadership hierarchy, boasted on the GOP-friendly forum of Fox News commentator Sean Hannity’s program that “Everybody thought Hillary Clinton was unbeatable. But we put together a Benghazi special committee, a select committee. What are her numbers today? Her numbers are dropping.”