Democrats' Benghazi Response Could've Been Easy & Straightforward. They've Taken Another Route.
On Tuesday, the long-awaited House Select Committee's Benghazi report — the product of more than two years of investigations into the attack in Libya on September 11, 2012, which resulted in the deaths of four Americans, including Ambassador J. Christopher Stephens — was released. Led by House Republicans, the Benghazi report found evidence of many government errors, miscommunication, and delays in its response to the attack. Notably, though, the report found no new evidence of wrongdoing by Hillary Clinton, who served as Secretary of State during the attack. And yet, Democrats were quick to try and put out a fire. Worse, they went about it all the wrong way.
Fearful of the impact the Benghazi report would have on Clinton's presidential bid, Democrats attempted to do damage control before Tuesday's main report was released. On Monday, Democrats released their own Benghazi report stating in it, "We hope our report will put to rest the conspiracy theories about Benghazi once and for all and return the focus to where it belongs — on the goal of improving the security of Americans serving abroad."
In their pre-emptive response, Democrats seemed quick to accuse the House Benghazi investigation as being an attempt by Republicans to throw Clinton off her game and derail her presidential bid. Democrats on the Benghazi panel released a minority report that further attacked Republicans for, “squander[ing] millions of taxpayer dollars in a partisan effort to attack a presidential candidate.” According to reports, the investigation cost around $7 million.
While Clinton's official Twitter and Facebook pages are mum on Tuesday's Benghazi report, instead focusing on message with posts about gun control and minimum wage, her staffers and surrogates have also been playing Benghazi defense for her. Clinton's press secretary, Brian Fallon, tweeted of the House report before it was even fully released, "Far from honoring the four brave Americans who died, the Benghazi Committee has been a partisan sham since its start."
But are the Democrats shooting themselves in the foot by so strongly insisting the Republican-led House report was a sham and a waste? If the major concern for Democrats is protecting the Clinton bid for the presidency, shouldn't they be content — and focus strongly on the fact — that the Republican report doesn't lobby additional allegations of wrongdoing against Clinton? Based on the Democrats' response, it almost begins to seem like a, "Methinks the lady doth protest too much" situation.
Instead of playing the "you spent too much money" card and releasing a "wasn't me" report before the actual main report came out, the Democrats should have let the report be released, acknowledge that there is blame to go around, and focus on what has been done since to improve security. In their over-inflated denial of the Benghazi report, I think Democrats look like they're falling into Republican hands — and now, they may be left trying to put out an even bigger fire.