It seems all we’re hearing from the political mavens these days is how Hillary
Clinton is not only the inevitable 2016 Democratic nominee but a shoo-in as the
That may be good news to Jewish Democrats – Clinton
remains a popular figure among Jewish voters despite virulent efforts by the far
Right to portray her as anti-Israel – but it is already producing mudslinging
that may set new records for political schmutz.
The early ugliness of the
anti-Clinton campaign might well convince the former first lady, senator and
secretary of state that she can best serve the causes dear to her in some other
Republican leaders are trying awfully (take that word both
ways) to show the former secretary of state is behind a sinister cover-up of the
Benghazi attacks that killed the American ambassador and three others last
If Republicans really wanted information they wouldn’t be
fabricating quotations from administration talking points by inserting
fictitious references to the Clinton State Department that didn’t appear in the
ABC’s Jonathan Karl went on the air with an “exclusive”
report last week claiming he had “obtained” the administration’s Benghazi
talking point emails, which he said revealed “exclusive input from the State
When the real emails were released and had no State
Department fingerprints, Karl admitted he hadn’t actually seen the originals but
had relied on an unnamed source, apparently a Hill GOP figure.
Darrell Issa (R-California) is the point man in the Trash Hillary campaign. This
is the guy who seems to think that since every single cable out of the State
Department for two centuries has borne the name of the secretary of state,
Hillary had to have personally read and be responsible for every missive that
went out over her signature. If he doesn’t know better, he’s dumber than his
A former Democratic staffer on his House oversight
committee, Anthony Clark, said over nearly four years he learned, “If Darrell
Issa says something – based on the record, his statements and my personal
observations of him up-close – there is a strong likelihood it will be baseless
and easily disproven.” He called the chairman a bully who “counts on his
opponents to back down” and a camera-hungry bully whose “MO is to make
outrageous, unsubstantiated claims” followed by bluster.
threatening to subpoena Clinton but he knows she is not easily intimidated or
bullied so he may quietly drop the idea.
The Washington Post’s Dana
Milbank said “despite Issa’s incautious promise of material ‘damaging’ to
Hillary, his star witness, Gregory Hicks, ‘didn’t lay a glove’ on her.” In the
end, Hicks may have been a good storyteller in recounting the events in
Benghazi, Milbank said, but “Hicks was of little use to
“Our goal in this investigation is to get answers,” Issa
said in opening remarks. What he really means is “Our goal in this investigation
is to get Hillary.”
That’s not to say that the Benghazi incident doesn’t
deserve a full airing before the Congressional oversight committee, but one
can’t help question the real intentions of the investigation when it turns out
to have been conducted by Republican staffers and the opposition Democrats were
You can ignore all that talk from Republicans
that Benghazi is a scandal worse than the Watergate, Iran-Contra and Scooter
Libby productions of earlier Republican administrations.
cartoonist Clay Bennett had them pegged when he drew a Fox News reporter in
front of the White House saying, “This is the biggest cover-up since the
President’s birth certificate.”
The big scandal is Republicans accusing
Clinton of denying necessary protection for diplomatic personnel after they
themselves had voted earlier to cut funding requested by the State Department
for diplomatic security.
One of those voting to cut nearly $300 million
from embassy security was Rep. Jason Chaffetz (R-Utah), who now is talking about
impeaching President Barack Obama for not doing enough to protect the Benghazi
mission and trying to cover that up.
Benghazi is not a scandal, but it is
“a mess – a small mess,” noted David Corn of Mother Jones, and “no mess is too
tiny for scandalmongers in need of material.”
What Republicans are really
after is undermining a potential Hillary candidacy for president in 2016. Their
stepped-up smear campaign suggests they fear she’d be impossible to beat if she
wins the Democratic nomination.
Karl Rove’s Super PAC has already begun
airing anti-Hillary ads, and there are a lot more to come.
weaken Clinton, the Republican attacks could backfire and make her a stronger
and more sympathetic candidate.
As I said, I’m not one of those who
believe she’s got a lock on the 2016 nomination. In fact, I’m not even convinced
she wants it, but if I had to bet, I’d say she’s leaning in that direction and
getting a lot of encouragement.
But inevitable? We heard the same thing
back in 2007 when she was the junior senator from New York. She had the
popularity, the organization, the money and she had Bill. But she ran a poor
campaign in 2008, blowing a 30-point lead, 100 percent name recognition and
enormous funding. She lost to an obscure junior senator from Illinois who
virtually no one had even heard of eight years ago.
Hillary may seem like
she’s sucking all the oxygen out of the upcoming presidential sweepstakes,
leaving possible competitors like Joe Biden, Andrew Cuomo, Deval Patrick, Cory
Booker and Martin O’Malley in her dust, but if a month is a lifetime in
politics, what’s three years?
©2013 Douglas M. Bloomfield