Remember way back in May, when the political world was convinced the White House was in “crisis” because of all the “scandals”? The effort to tie together three unrelated stories – none of which was a legitimate “scandal” by any fair definition – was quickly embraced by the Beltway establishment, before fizzling out as the summer progressed.
The one Washington seemed to care the most about – IRS scrutiny of groups seeking tax-exempt status – evaporated fairly quickly. The establishment briefly cared about AP reporters’ phone logs being subpoenaed, but you may have noticed that the Justice Department’s efforts to prevent future controversies like these were almost entirely ignored.
And then, of course, there was Benghazi, which was never really a political controversy at all, and the allegations raised by those who hoped to exploit the story for partisan gain were discredited in the spring. Politico reported just last week, “After months of fiery hearings and vows to get to the bottom of Benghazi, House Republicans are now barely making a peep when it comes to an issue they once couldn’t stop talking about.”
But it appears old habits die hard.
GOP leaders are coming under new pressure from conservatives to form a special committee to investigate the Benghazi attack.
Rep. Steve Stockman (R-Texas) is circulating a discharge petition to force a House vote on forming the panel, which would investigate events leading up to the terrorist attack last year on the U.S. consulate in Benghazi, as well as the Obama administration’s response.
Stockman on Tuesday will unveil a 60-foot-long scroll signed by 1,000 Special Forces veterans who support the committee. Supporters tout it as the largest petition ever presented to Congress, and Stockman plans to unroll it down the Capitol’s steps.
Keep in mind, it’s not clear to anyone why a special investigatory committee is needed, why it should cover the same ground committee hearings and an independent panel have already covered, or what questions proponents of the idea perceive as unanswered. Even some congressional Republican staffers have begun openly mocking GOP lawmakers who can’t let go of this nonsense.
But the conspiracy theorists in Congress are undeterred.
For the discharge petition to be successful, Stockman and his allies would need 218 of the chamber’s 234 House Republicans – about 93% – to ignore the wishes of the GOP leadership. At last count, they were up to 160.
In the meantime, House Oversight Committee Chairman Darrell Issa (R-Calif.) hasn’t given up on his white whale, either.
Try not to be surprised.