It’s been about a day since the political world was confronted with House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy’s (R-Calif.) unexpected candor: the Republican’s taxpayer-financed Benghazi committee, he acknowledged, is all about the GOP’s “strategy to fight and win” against Hillary Clinton. It’s not, in other words, about investigating an attack that left four Americans dead.
The response to the likely House Speaker’s confession was swift and severe. Consider, for example, what Rep. Adam Smith (D-Wash.), a member of the Select Committee on Benghazi, told Rachel on the show last night.
“[T]he committee is a joke and I think Democrats ought to call it what it is and say we`re not going to participate in this anymore.“And that’s my initial reaction – I`ll listen to my leadership on this and perhaps they will again have greater wisdom – but it just has been an embarrassment.”
It’s no idle threat. In light of Kevin McCarthy, the likely next Speaker of the House, admitting what Democrats have long feared, there’s a very real possibility that Dems on the panel may decide to simply walk away from a process that’s been corrupted. If the committee is now nothing more than a taxpayer-funded election tool, some Democrats no longer see the point in participating in a farce.
Indeed, Smith isn’t the only one with these concerns. Yesterday, other Democratic committee members, including Reps. Tammy Duckworth (D-Ill.) and Adam Schiff (D-Calif.), called on the Benghazi panel to disband, though they have not yet indicated whether they’re prepared to resign in protest.
As for the other side of the aisle, Republicans weren’t exactly pleased that McCarthy accidentally told the truth and exposed the Benghazi committee as a partisan election scheme. Indeed, several prominent GOP lawmakers spent the day telling reporters how wrong their leader is about the party’s activities.
By some accounts, Republicans were “privately … outraged” by McCarthy’s remarks. When Rep. Justin Amash (R-Mich.) was asked whether the comments might jeopardize McCarthy’s promotion to the Speaker’s office, the Michigan Republican responded, “I think it should be a concern.” [Update: House Oversight Committee Chairman Jason Chaffetz has called on McCarthy to “apologize” for his remarks.]
There is, to be sure, ample reason to wonder whether McCarthy is really up for the job. To date, however, there is no credible GOP alternative.