By Cliff Kincaid
The Republican Party is at a crossroads, not only on Benghazi, but on Obamacare. Does the GOP have the will to fight? The media are stirring with unease at the thought that Republican congressional leaders will finally and forcefully confront Obama about his scandalous foreign and domestic policies.
The decision has been made by House Speaker John Boehner, R-Ohio, in response to internal pressure, to fight to defund Obamacare. Will he also permit the conservatives to investigate the truth about Benghazi?
Accuracy in Media’s Sept. 16 conference on Benghazi came under a frenetic attack from Dana Milbank of the Washington Post, who fears that pressure on Boehner will force him to agree to a Watergate-style committee investigating the Benghazi terrorist attack and cover-up. Such a probe, greatly feared by Obama and his allies, could finally get to the bottom of the scandal involving arms smuggling to terrorists in the Middle East and the deaths of four Americans. Rep. Frank Wolf’s, R-Va., H. Res. 36, to establish such a committee, has 176 cosponsors. This is a strong majority of the Republican majority in the House. Yet, Boehner has so far refused to authorize the special committee.
Until recently, Speaker Boehner had no plans to use the budget battle to defund Obamacare. But pressure from within, from tea party and conservative Republicans, has forced him to act. The move is being distorted and twisted by the media, citing people like Karl Rove and Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz., into an effort that will only succeed in closing the government down and giving Obama a political victory of some kind. This is an argument, of course, for business as usual in Washington, another victory for Obama and the Democrats that will leave conservatives dispirited and demoralized.
The media know that the health-care law is unpopular and that the Republicans have a winning issue in their fight to repeal it. Obama has delayed implementation of key aspects of the law because it was poorly conceived and rushed through without adequate review. Defunding the law is the only legislative mechanism available to House Republicans to save the American people from this unfolding disaster. The House has the power of the purse, and the media know it.
That is why the media enthusiastically quote “experts” such as Rove to try to derail the push to defund the law. CNN’s Gloria Borger argued, “… even Karl Rove in an op-ed in the Wall Street Journal today said look, Republicans are essentially on a fool’s errand here.”
In the end, Senate Democrats will protect Obama and his law. But is that a reason not to engage in a public fight to defund it?
Rove had argued that “any strategy to repeal, delay or replace the law must have a credible chance of succeeding or affecting broad public opinion positively.”
Yet, through his column and numerous media appearances, especially on Fox News, he undermines those trying to influence public opinion in the right direction.
In a column, before GOP leaders in the House decided to change tactics and use the budget battle to defund Obamacare, Erick Erickson of RedState had warned that the Republican establishment and its conservative base were moving far apart. “If the GOP does not make a stand against Obamacare, they will not see the energy they need to effectively compete in 2014,” he said.
The Republican establishment in the House finally got the message on Obamacare.
When Boehner caved in, Amy Kremer of the Tea Party Express, the nation’s largest tea-party political action committee, said the voice of the grass roots “was too loud for the House leadership to ignore.”
What’s missing from the coverage is an examination of the record of Republicans such as Rove and McCain, and whether their political “expertise” is worthwhile. Rove spent $300 million in 2012 to try to elect Mitt Romney and guarantee a Republican takeover of the U.S. Senate. He failed.
To make the case that Republican efforts to defund Obamacare are “self-defeating,” Rove cites a poll purporting to show that such a move would turn off independent voters. But polls haven’t been kind to Rove and other “experts” who had used them to predict a Romney victory in the 2012 presidential election. Rove’s controversial record and predictions were a factor in his being dropped as an analyst by Fox News after the election, before being inexplicably rehired.
Since his failure as the Republican nominee for president against Obama in 2008, McCain has emerged as one of the biggest supporters of Obama’s pro-Muslim Brotherhood policy in the Middle East. Most Egyptians welcomed the overthrow of the Obama-backed Muslim Brotherhood regime in their country. But McCain went to Egypt on Obama’s behalf to argue for the return of the Muslim Brotherhood to power in some fashion.
McCain has been in the news lately as a proponent of arming the Syrian “rebels,” many of them identified as connected with al-Qaida. To promote this policy, he quoted a Wall Street Journal writer, Elizabeth O’Bagy, who had claimed a nonexistent Ph.D. She has been fired not only by the Institute for the Study of War, where she worked, but by a Syrian rebel group she had been serving as “political director.”
However, I have not seen Sen. McCain being questioned by anyone in the media about his reliance on this fake scholar. McCain always remains a media favorite, no matter how ridiculous he looks.
Having deferred to conservatives on Obamacare, Speaker Boehner and other members of the Republican establishment are now feeling the heat over Benghazi. AIM’s conference to launch the Citizens’ Commission on Benghazi captured much of the unrest over Boehner’s curious failure to create a Watergate-style committee to investigate the scandal. Speakers said that the scandal could implicate the president in illegal operations that are international in scope.
Special Operations Speaks launched a billboard campaign to pressure Boehner to create the special committee, while Revive America USA has been running “Fire the Speaker” ads over his resistance to the idea. Those ads have run on Fox News, Glenn Beck’s The Blaze and the Mark Levin radio show.
The ads say:
“Speaker Boehner promised he’d repeal Obamacare, but now refuses to even defund it!
He surrendered to Obama’s higher taxes and spending, and when House Republicans complained, Boehner punished them. Speaker Boehner won’t allow a special ‘Watergate’ committee to investigate the 9/11-Benghazi terror attack, even though a majority of House Republicans demand it! After 3 years of broken promises and secret back-room deals with Obama – You’re Fired, Speaker Boehner!”
Boehner has caved on Obamacare. Will he do so on Benghazi?
In the Senate, Sen. Ted Cruz, R-Texas, asked for unanimous consent for passage of his Senate Resolution 225 to create a special committee in that body to investigate Benghazi, but liberal Sen. Barbara Boxer, D-Calif., objected, thereby defeating the idea.
“Given the yearlong collective failure of our government either to gain clarity on what happened in Benghazi or extract any retribution for the terrorist attack,” Cruz said, “Congress should form a Joint Select Committee to launch a proper investigation.”
Despite the clear case for such a committee, Cruz has only 23 cosponsors. McCain and Senate Republican Leader Mitch McConnell are not among them.
Despite what the Republicans may think or do, of course, the Senate is run by Democrats like Boxer, and they will never agree to a special committee to investigate the Obama policies that resulted in Benghazi. The House is a different matter.
Bob Adams of Revive America says Boehner is under tremendous pressure to authorize the special committee on Benghazi, or get out of the way and let the conservatives do the job. The argument that the Senate won’t agree with the House doesn’t apply in this case, since House Republicans can set up this special committee on their own.
The future of Boehner’s speakership, the Republican Party, and even Obama’s presidency may hang in the balance.
Cliff Kincaid is director of the AIM Center for Investigative Journalism.