The House of Representatives Select Committee on the attack on the U.S. compound in Benghazi is all about attacking Hillary Clinton’s poll numbers, admits a senior Republican.Here's what McCarthy said. He and Hannity were talking about what's going to be different in the House now that John Boehner has resigned as Speaker.
Current House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-CA) told Fox News host Sean Hannity during an interview on Monday night ... that Clinton’s dropping poll numbers are evidence of the effectiveness of the committee....
It is a tacit admission by the second most powerful Republican in the House that the Committee’s true goal is taking out Secretary Clinton as a presidential candidate.
MCCARTHY: ... What you're going to see is a conservative speaker, that takes a conservative Congress, that puts a strategy to fight and win. And let me give you one example. 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.Beyond the acknowledgment of an obvious fact -- that the committee's goals are entirely political -- notice that McCarthy doesn't even bother with the right's usual phony sanctimony about Benghazi. There's not one mention of the four Americans who died in the Benghazi attack. There's none of this:
I guess the pretense that this is about lost lives is being dropped.
Go to 4:04 in the clip for the Benghazi exchange:
The conventional wisdom about McCarthy is that he's not one of the lunatic zealots, but in this interview he's certainly trying to establish his lunatic-zealot cred. The first thing he tells Hannity is that, yes, the House has voted to repeal Obamacare dozens of times, but things are going to be different now -- not because he's come to his senses and plans to discourage any additional repeal votes, which is what a sane right-centrist would do, but because the post-Boehner House is going to use reconciliation to fight Obamacare.
So he's saying he'll double down on relentless Obamacare opposition. And then, near the end of the interview (go to 5:19), he promises to double down on the Planned Parenthood inquisition, using new tactics -- it sounds as if he's promising some sort of tax-funded anti-Planned Parenthood roadshow, plus, apparently, a propaganda effort coordinated with Fox:
McCARTHY: This is what we're going to do, Sean, and we're not going to be able to do it alone: We're going to put a strategy together. Just as we do a select committee on Planned Parenthood, so we go out across the country, and they see. The president won't even watch those videos. The Democrats won't watch those videos. We need America to watch those videos. And you know what? We need your help as well.I see a lot of lefties arguing that the GOP's ongoing Planned Parenthood witch hunt is a colossal political blunder, because polls show strong support for the organization. It's quite possible that it is a miscalculation -- but I worry when Republicans go on open-ended hunts for alleged villainous behavior in this way. Whitewater was a nothing scandal -- until it morphed into Monicagate. Benghazi was a nothing scandal -- until it morphed into Emailgate.
This is aimed primarily at Hillary Clinton. These SOBs know that, on a subconscious level, any attack aimed at Planned Parenthood can implicitly be one on Hillary because, to a lot of people, Planned Parenthood = militant feminism and Hillary = militant feminism. I know that's not true about Planned Parenthood for the majority of Americans, but I'm guessing that Republicans think it could be true for aging white Catholics in high-electoral-vote states such as Ohio and Michigan. Anything that might keep those aging white Catholics from coming home to the Democratic Party in November 2016 is worth it to the GOP. And if that doesn't work, the Planned Parenthood fatwa is certainly a unity builder for the party, which desperately needs one.
So expect McCarthy to be a supposed establishmentarian who gives a lot of leeway to the loons.
UPDATE: Dave Weigel writes this up or The Washington Post and makes it seem as if McCarthy made all these rightward gestures because he was browbeaten:
Sean Hannity was pushing hard, asking House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy to name some promises his Republicans had actually delivered on. He scoffed when McCarthy said the party would start undoing the Affordable Care Act -- "you have the power of the purse!" He talked over McCarthy when the leader and candidate for Speaker of the House suggested that the party did not need to cut funds for President Obama's "amnesty," because courts had taken care of it. Only halfway into the interview did McCarthy finally catch a break.Watch the clip -- yes, Hannity was pressing the uncompromising-zealot party line, but McCarthy seemed awfully eager to demonstrate his loon bona fides.
"Everybody though Hillary Clinton was unbeatable, right?" McCarthy asked. "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."
"I give you credit for that," said Hannity. "I'll give you credit where credit is due."
UPDATE: Regarding McCarthy's admission, I agree 100% with Martin Longman (BooMan): This was no blunder.
Now, I know that in certain Beltway circles telling the truth is considered one of the worst possible gaffes, but McCarthy bragged about the effectiveness of this smear campaign precisely because he wanted to remind people that the Republicans deserve credit for finding ways to effectively fight back against the Democrats. In other words, he was reminding the Republican base voter that there actually are examples where the Republican leadership did something extraordinarily partisan and obnoxious and that it worked. The reaction will probably be exactly what he hoped for. He gets a pat on the head and a couple of “Atta Boys.”Absolutely.
The idea that Republican members of Congress will clutch their pearls in horror that McCarthy defended their performance is a big reach, in my opinion.