House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy, the hapless California Republican who on Thursday abruptly quit the race he was supposedly to be leading for speaker of the House, is scrambling to explain why he bragged on national television about the success of his caucus’s investigations of Hillary Clinton as a political intervention.
“Everybody thought Hillary Clinton was unbeatable, right?” McCarthy told Fox host Sean Hannity. “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.”
McCarthy says he was really trying to say something other than what he said when he said what he said. But he is the one who sounds kind of “untrustable”—even to a few of his fellow Republicans.
The fiasco certainly contributed to the Californian’s collapse as a contender for the speaker’s job. But he remains the No. 2 man in the party’s House leadership. And his acknowledgement of the political calculations of his caucus ought not be neglected, even as McCarthy scrambles out of the spotlight.
Clinton, who has long argued that the Republican inquiry is “about politics,” is having a field day.
“This committee was set up, as they have admitted, for the purpose of making a partisan political issue out of the deaths of four Americans,” she said Monday in a widely-publicized NBC appearance. “I would never have done that, and if I were president and there were Republicans or Democrats thinking about that, I would have done everything to shut it down.”
The “shut-it-down” call will rise, especially now that The New York Times has argued editorially that the “charade” should be abandoned or “that at the very least they should rename their laughable crusade, which has cost taxpayers $4.6 million, ‘the Inquisition of Hillary Rodham Clinton.’”
But there should be a parallel call to determine the extent of political manipulation of the governing process by excessively-partisan congressional Republicans.
Congressman Alan Grayson, the outspoken Florida Democrat whose background is as a hard-charging plaintiffs’ attorney specializing in whistleblower and fraud cases, is all over this issue.