With Hillary Clinton’s over nine hours of Benghazi testimony now in the books, it’s time for the experts and pundits to dissect everything that went down during the Republican-led sideshow they’re calling an “investigation.” And being that this sham of a “hearing” went on from morning well into the evening on Thursday, there’s plenty to go over.
Well, Rachel Maddow took exception to fact that Republicans have taken a process which has really never been partisan in the past, and turned it into a ridiculous spectacle that is nothing more than political theater meant to harm Clinton’s chances next year. In particular, Maddow emphasized that the Republican-led committee went after Clinton for the formation of an Accountability Review Board (ARB – an acronym that was used constantly on Thursday), even though a law signed by Ronald Reagan required her to do so.
The MSNBC host pointed out that the law passed during the Reagan administration was a direct result of several security flaws in Beirut that led to terrorist attacks against Americans, including the deaths of 241 service members when a Marine barracks was bombed. These ARB’s were never meant to be partisan or used as political tools to attack politicians. Nor have we ever seen an instance in this country where a tragedy has been exploited like Republicans have done with Benghazi.
“We have never had a congressional partisan carnival like this over an attack on a US outpost overseas, never,” Maddow said. “In the history of Beirut, in the history of Khobar Towers, of the East Africa embassy bombings, of the 9/11 commission, even, of the attack on the USS Cole, on even the intelligence leading up to the Iraq war.” And it’s an extremely dangerous precedent to set.
These sorts of committees aren’t meant to be used to wage character assassinations for political gain. Not only that, but it’s deplorable for anyone – Democrat or Republican – to exploit any tragedy to wage petty partisan attacks against their opponent. Now I know what many Republicans will say: But we want to know what happened! Clinton has clearly been covering up and hiding the truth! No, she hasn’t.
This is the eighth congressional investigation into Benghazi. Of those eight, six have been led by Republicans. Even after over nine hours of testimony, the general consensus by most was that there was nothing new said today that hadn’t already been established by the previous seven investigations.
Then again, this wasn’t about finding out “the truth.” This was nothing but a spectacle meant to try to trap Clinton into a “gotcha” moment. It was clear they intended the proceedings to drag on for a ridiculous amount of time (11 hours in total, including breaks) hoping through sheer exhaustion the former Secretary of State would give them something they could turn into an attack on her later.
Unfortunately for them, she didn’t. In fact, when it was all said and done, she looked more presidential than ever before. But Maddow finished the segment in a rather somber note, issuing a slight warning for the nation. “Republicans have turned it all into one big hilarious partisan joke,” Maddow stated. “If God loves America, we will find out soon that somewhere there is a reset button that we can hit after this is over to erase this as a potential precedent for our country moving forward.”
The next time something like this happens (which will eventually happen) it’s likely we’ll never know the actual truth. Because Republicans have established that it’s now fair game to use these types of hearings not to legitimately investigate what happened based on facts, but to wage political attacks against people they want to try to take down. And in a process that was never meant to be partisan, Republicans have turned it into one of the most partisan issues of the last three years.