The need for Democrats to participate on the Benghazi select committee has been obvious all along. As I wrote almost three weeks ago:
If they participate, Democrats can break the Republicans’ momentum and rehabilitate, or at least assist, administration witnesses after they have been worked over by the likes of Trey Gowdy. Imagine you’re Susan Rice testifying before the committee. Would you rather face non-stop questioning from Republicans or have Democrats offering their spin and their softball questions for nearly half of your time in front of the cameras?
The answer is so clear that I assumed the House Democrats’ threat to boycott the committee was some combination of bluff and bluster.
But if the Dems were faking, they apparently managed to fake out Hillary Clinton, who needs the likes of Elijah Cummings on the committee more than Susan Rice does. According to Politico, “Hillary Clinton’s world was so worried about a Republican investigation of the Benghazi attacks, they sent a message to House Democrats: We need backup.”
Specifically, “Clinton emissaries launched a back channel campaign, contacting several House Democratic lawmakers and aides to say they’d prefer Democrats participate.” Soon thereafter, Pelosi announced that the Dems will participate.
Can it really be the case that Pelosi and her advisers are so blinded by hostility towards the House leadership that they were prepared to leave the Party’s likely 2016 nominee hanging out to dry? Very possibly.
To be fair, Republican legislatures can also let hostility trump strategic thinking. The government shutdown arguably is an example.
But the shutdown was driven by hostility towards a vitally important policy — Obamacare. The impulse to boycott the Benghazi select committee — an unheard of move in such a high-profile investigation — has no connection to any policy disagreement. The impulse was purely partisan but, again, patently counterproductive from a partisan standpoint.
That’s the risk a party runs when its primary message is: we hate the other party and you should too.