James Carville: GOP’s Benghazi meter does not read victory

James Carville: GOP’s Benghazi meter does not read victory
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Just a tiny bit over a year ago I wrote a column for this publication indicating that the Republicans had not been right about a single thing so far this century. Sports gamblers have a name for when you don’t win a single bet over a weekend — it’s called the “0fer” — and a year later, we can add several more Republican predictions that continue the Grand Old Party’s streak of being 100 percent wrong. 

Much has been made in the last year about the threats of ObamaCare, ranging from massive private and public sector layoffs to exploding premiums, and none of it has come true. Well, the House Republicans refuse to quit or accept reality. And while football season has just started, the right wing’s big bet — the Benghazi Bowl — is coming to an end. Since 2012 they’ve been playing political football with the national tragedy that killed four Americans. And they’re about to lose this big bet.


You see, the Republicans assembled a team of all-stars. They wanted to have their best players all together, for one ball game, to defeat Team Hillary ClintonHillary Diane Rodham ClintonHarris lists out 'racist' actions by Trump in '60 minutes' interview: 'It all speaks for itself' Trump has list of top intelligence officials he'll fire if he wins reelection: report Clinton says most Republicans want to see Trump gone but can't say it publicly: report MORE. From Kentucky Sen. Rand PaulRandal (Rand) Howard PaulTwo Loeffler staffers test positive for COVID-19 Michigan Republican isolating after positive coronavirus test GOP Rep. Mike Bost tests positive for COVID-19 MORE to California Rep. Darrell IssaDarrell Edward IssaChamber-backed Democrats embrace endorsements in final stretch Ex-RNC, Trump fundraiser Elliott Broidy charged in covert lobbying scheme DCCC reserves new ad buys in competitive districts, adds new members to 'Red to Blue' program MORE to South Carolina Rep. Trey GowdyHarold (Trey) Watson GowdySunday shows preview: Election integrity dominates as Nov. 3 nears Tim Scott invokes Breonna Taylor, George Floyd in Trump convention speech Sunday shows preview: Republicans gear up for national convention, USPS debate continues in Washington MORE, they’ve had a strong team. But their problem all along hasn’t been the team, it’s been the goal of the game they’re playing — to derail President Obama, his administration and especially Clinton.

Two years later, let’s take a look at the box score on Benghazi:

• nine congressional committees;
• 13 public hearings;
• dozens of interviews;
• 50 senior level staff briefings;
• more than 25,000 pages of documents;
• three independent/bipartisan reports (with one more forthcoming);
• zero evidence of political wrongdoing.

Despite all this, House Republicans have begged for a 10th congressional committee to investigate, in an attempt to score some points late in the game. After months of holding the line, Senator John Boehner (R-Ohio) caved, and in May announced the formation of the House Select Committee on Benghazi, which is expected to cost America’s hard-working taxpayers more than $3 million.

Team GOP has been gearing up for its biggest game of the season next week, when the Select Committee will hold its first hearing. But with seconds left on the clock, Team GOP has a full 99 yards to go. 

The truth has been revealed over and over again, and all of the questions have been answered. No matter how hard they try, they can’t beat the facts.

Reports from the three investigations that have taken place — the Accountability Review Board, the Senate Homeland Security and Government Oversight Committee and the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence — have all blocked Team GOP’s goal. Just last month, we heard the results from the fourth bipartisan investigation, from the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence, which reportedly confirmed there was no deliberate wrongdoing there.

All of these reports have debunked the GOP’s favorite play: that Clinton, as secretary of State, issued a “stand-down order” to U.S. military personnel on the night of the attack. Even the Republican-led House Armed Services Committee Report confirmed that Clinton did not issue any such order.

But Team GOP keeps trying this same play. Just this week, with the release of the new book, 13 Hours: The Inside Account of What Really Happened in Benghazi, I have seen countless conservative news sites, politicians, and newsmakers claim victory at last.

This latest book, constructed from firsthand accounts, has all but put a fork in Team GOP’s hopes to defeat Clinton. The book alleges that a “stand-down order” was given ... and once again, Hillary Clinton isn’t anywhere near it, deflating the one remaining conspiracy theory Hail Mary they had.

First of all, the secretary of State did not have control over our country’s military assets on that tragic night, or any other for that matter. Second, while Issa said “Secretary Clinton told Leon [Panetta, then secretary of Defense] to stand down,” this paints a different picture. The work of the Accountability Review Board, the Homeland Security and Government Oversight Committee, the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence, the House Armed Services Committee and the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence all lead to the simple fact that Clinton did not issue a “stand down order.”

As the final seconds of the Benghazi Bowl tick off the clock, Team GOP has fumbled the ball in its own end zone.  

Carville is a political contributor for Fox News and ARISE News. He also serves as a professor at Tulane University in New Orleans, where he lives with his wife, Republican strategist Mary Matalin. His column will appear twice a month in The Hill.