The Benghazi Committee Interrogation of HRC: Soft Porn for Conservative Activists

If watching the House Benghazi! Committee questioning of Hillary Clinton yesterday, or following it via the excellent updates here from Martin Longman and Nancy LeTourneau, didn’t convince you the whole enterprise has gone badly awry, consider the views of Erick Erickson, who called the hearing “a waste of time” and a “carnival road show of back bench congresscritters playing to the cameras and Hillary Clinton working hard to play persecuted victim.” Then there’s Byron York, whose report on the day was entitled “Benghazi Bust.”

As Sahil Kapur noted in a roundup of conservative reaction for Bloomberg Politics, Fox News cut away from live coverage of the hearing midday. That was probably about the same time I was doing a radio show wherein I suggested Committee Republicans had decided to serve up “soft porn for conservative activists” instead of presenting anything aimed at persuadable people, and my conservative sparring mate, Commentary‘s Jonathan Tobin, didn’t much disagree.

In conservative eyes, the culprit in all this was Kevin McCarthy, whose boasts about the political motivation and impact of the Benghazi! Committee marked yesterday’s hearings indelibly. With one poll (from CNN) showing three-fourths of Americans thinking the whole investigation was intended for “political gain,” the fight for the committee’s credibility was lost before the lights came on, and almost everything that happened during a long day of long tangents into questions tangential to the four deaths in Libya four years ago reinforced the impression of a incompetently organized show trial.

It will be interesting to see how Trey Gowdy and company decide to wrap up this “investigation” now that its intended dramatic climax has turned into low farce. On the broader anti-HRC front, about the only GOP hope left for a “game-changer” would be an FBI report concluding that her handling of emails constituted a serious security breach. But there’s no particular reason to think that’s how it’s going to turn out.

We’ll consider later today where this all leaves Hillary Clinton’s presidential campaign, but it’s hard to imagine a better week for her, given Joe Biden’s decision not to run against her and now the self-immolation of her most prominent Republican tormenters. Not that many years from now, the Benghazi! investigation will be viewed like its very similar predecessor, the Whitewater investigation: an expensive failure whose details are hard to remember. But for now, it’s good to know, finally, that this show will soon close.

Ed Kilgore

Ed Kilgore, a Monthly contributing editor, is a columnist for the Daily Intelligencer, New York magazine’s politics blog, and the managing editor for the Democratic Strategist.