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Friday, December 9, 2016

To hardly anybody’s surprise, it turns out that the “vast right-wing conspiracy” has been right in front of our eyes. Always was, actually, as Rep. Kevin McCarthy’s politically disastrous on-air admission made plain. Or maybe you thought a seventh Benghazi investigation lasting as long as the Pearl Harbor and JFK assassination probes combined was exactly what America needed.

And no, McCarthy’s gaffe wasn’t wrung out of him by a trick question.

“The question I think you really want to ask me,” he volunteered to Fox News lunkhead Sean Hannity, “is how am I going to be different?”

As Speaker John Boehner’s presumed successor, that is.

McCarthy answered himself: “What you’re going to see is a conservative speaker that takes a conservative Congress that puts a strategy to fight and win. And let me give you one example. Everybody thought Hillary Clinton was unbeatable, right? But we put together a Benghazi special committee, a select committee. What are her numbers today? Her numbers are dropping. Why? Because she’s untrustable.”

No, “untrustable” is not a word. But then words aren’t McCarthy’s strong point. His meaning, however, was clear enough. The man was bragging. The only purpose of the House Select Committee on Benghazi is to inflict political damage on the leading Democratic presidential contender.

Your tax dollars at work.

Never one to miss a chance, Hillary pounced on the Today show:

This committee was set up, as they have admitted, for the purpose of making a partisan, political issue out of the deaths of four Americans,” she said. “I would never have done that, and if I were president and there were Republicans or Democrats thinking about that, I would have done everything to shut it down.

Her campaign has already released a 30-second TV ad featuring McCarthy’s boasting. She added that having admitted the committee’s partisan agenda, Congress should shut it down. Everybody knows that’s not going to happen.

“Look,” Clinton added, “I’ve been around this whole ‘political situation’ for a long time, but some things are just beyond the pale. I’m happy to go, if it’s still in operation, to testify. But the real issue is what happened to four brave Americans.”

Chairman Gowdy would be well advised to invest in a pair of super-absorbent Depends when Hillary testifies before his committee on October 22. All he’s got is a handful of long-disproved conspiracy theories and selectively edited witness transcripts leaked to the news media to create a false impression.

So he’s an ex-federal prosecutor. Whoop-de-doo. Arkansas was overrun with them during the late Whitewater investigation. All but one of Kenneth Starr’s leak-o-matic staff turned out to be subpar trial lawyers. That one was clever enough to give a closing argument pointing out that Bill Clinton wasn’t on trial because the defendant — his former real estate partner — had swindled him and Hillary.

“The office of the Presidency of the United States,” he thundered “can’t be besmirched by people such as Jim McDougal.”

Any chance of prosecuting either Bill or Hillary over Whitewater pretty much ended right there in May 1996. (The whole story’s told in Joe Conason’s and my e-book The Hunting of Hillary, available for free from The National Memo.)

But no, of course it wasn’t in the newspaper because Washington scribes were stuck to Starr like ticks to a dog’s ear. He successfully diverted attention to subsequent Whitewater trials, every one of which they lost.

Until Bill Clinton bailed them out by taking his pants down in the Oval Office, that is.

But I digress. As the Washington Post‘s GOP-oriented columnist Kathleen Parker points out, Rep. McCarthy has “tried to cram the bad genie back into the bottle, but the damage has been done and can’t be undone….any previous suspicions that Republicans were just out to get Clinton have cleared the bar of reasonable doubt.”

Meanwhile, if Trey Gowdy doesn’t already know that Hillary Clinton’s a lot smarter and tougher than he is, he’s about to find out. Truthfully, they’d be better advised to fold the committee and file some weasel-worded report.

Then there’s our esteemed national news media, repeatedly burned by inaccurate leaks from Gowdy’s committee. The New York Times has run one phony exclusive after another. First, her famous emails were illegal, except they’re not. Then they were contrary to regulations enacted, oops, 18 months after she left office. Next Hillary was the subject of an FBI criminal probe. Except that too turned out to be false. Now they’re making a big deal out of the exact date she changed email addresses. Seriously.

And why? Because as Bill Clinton recently explained to Fareed Zakaria, they’re essentially fops and courtiers, “people who get bored talking about what’s your position on student loan relief or dealing with the shortage of mental health care or what to do with the epidemic of prescription drugs and heroin out in America, even in small towns of rural America.”

Any questions?

File Photo: House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-CA) speaks at the John Hay Initiative in Washington on September 28, 2015. REUTERS/Gary Cameron

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