A woman in the crowd floated a new Benghazi conspiracy. "Has someone in the GOP leadership gotten their fingers involved in watering down some of this to benefit Secretary Clinton?" she asked. Nobody rebutted this idea. Herein lies a lesson for Republicans who are perpetually trying to appease the far right: It's a fool's errand. They went to the tea party -- and now they're taking Donald Trump to the prom. Likewise, then-House Speaker John Boehner named the Benghazi committee because activists were dissatisfied that seven previous congressional investigations had failed to uncover major scandal material. Now an eighth has produced more of the same -- and the agitators are as agitated as ever.
With the Republicans' Benghazi Committee uncovering no meaningful new information, and with the panel's investigation effectively exonerating Hillary Clinton, right-wing conspiracy theorists this week had no choice but to give up and find a new hobby.
No, I'm just kidding. They're actually redirecting their ire towards Benghazi Committee Chairman Trey Gowdy (R-S.C.).
Just yesterday, I predicted that some conservatives would turn on Gowdy, in whom they'd invested so much hope. The far-right South Carolinian was supposed to bury, not exonerate, Hillary Clinton, I wrote, and his inability to deliver a useful campaign weapon will likely be seen as both a failure and a betrayal.
A few hours later, far-right radio personality Michael Savage told his audience, "Trey Gowdy should be impeached for wasting my time! He promised us a lot! Remember?" (Members of Congress can be expelled, but not impeached, under the U.S. Constitution.)
Of course, Savage isn't alone. The Washington Post's Dana Milbank explained today that "conspiracy-minded" conservatives are blaming Gowdy "for failing to deliver the goods." There was a meeting yesterday of the "Citizens' Commission on Benghazi," where members agreed the far-right South Carolinian let them down by failing to confirm their beliefs.
There's a certain twisted logic to this. The unhinged right starts with the ideologically satisfying answer -- President Obama and Hillary Clinton are guilty of horrible Benghazi-related wrongdoing -- and then works backwards, looking for "proof" that matches the conclusion. When their ostensible allies fail to tell these activists what they want to hear, they could reevaluate their bogus assumptions, but it's vastly easier to believe Republicans have let them down.
Wait, it gets worse.
As Milbank reported, a former Ted Cruz adviser complained yesterday that Gowdy "did not draw a connection between the dots." And why not? According to retired Gen. Thomas McInerney, the Benghazi Committee chairman "had his reasons -- political" for holding back.
McInerney "speculated that congressional leadership had approved 'black operations' to run weapons from Benghazi to Islamic State forces in Syria."
This is what it's come to: Benghazi conspiracy theorists are so creative, and so unmoved by evidence or reason, that they can convince themselves that congressional Republicans are in on the conspiracy.
As Donald Trump and his allies try to incorporate ridiculous Benghazi rhetoric into their 2016 platform, keep in mind who his unhinged allies are.