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GOP’s trumped-up Benghazi scandal hasn’t tarnished Hillary Clinton

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If Republicans think their bogus Benghazi scandal will serve to render Hillary Clinton beatable in the 2016 presidential, which seems to be the principal purpose of this exercise of late, they had better think again.

I noted HERE yesterday that Clinton’s name was mentioned almost five times as often as President Obama’s in Wednesday’s House Oversight Committee hearing on Benghazi. The objective of the GOP scandal-mongers was clear: Bring Hillary down a peg or two or five.

But I’m betting that the next batch of polls measuring Clinton’s popularity will show that she remains far more well-liked among the American people than any Republican politician in the land.

Stephen Stomberg offers THIS SLANT on the matter:

[I]f their obsession with Benghazi is partly an attempt to render her [Clinton] incapable of winning the general election in 2016, the affair won’t do it for them. Or even get close.

At first, in fact, Republicans didn’t even try. Following the Sept. 11, 2012 attacks, their initial target was Susan Rice, a lesser-known Obama appointee and possible Clinton successor at the State Department. She was far less popular in Washington, and she didn’t have much of a national reputation. Easier, in other words, to take down with a small club.

Clinton, on the other hand, continues to be one of the most-scrutinized people on earth, and, following her time as secretary of state, her reputation remains strong. Even after the attention the right has paid to Benghazi — including demanding she testify to Congress — her approval numbers remain in the 60s. If she runs for president, of course, they wouldn’t stay there. Any residual support among Republicans who have compared her favorably to President Obama will dry up. But that would have happened with or without Benghazi.

Benghazi, anyway, did not stop Obama from winning last year, even while the attacks were recent news. They were horrific, but not the stuff that turns elections. As Marc Ambinder argues, the facts don’t suggest any believable, coherent narrative of grand conspiracy or utter perfidy in the top ranks of the Obama administration. Digging into them would likely to confuse a lot of voters. In 2016 Clinton would suffer — or benefit — far more from the state of the economy, the way she campaigns and voters’ impressions of her personality than from one episode in 2012 that didn’t capture the public’s imagination.

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19 Comments

  1. Steverino

    Hunting season appears to have started early.

  2. Neftali

    Stomberg isn’t thinking this through. Republicans know this won’t stop what appears to be an inevitable Clinton campaign. But that’s not the intent. Its real purpose is just to serve as another worn out sweater in a huge laundry list that will be used against her. If you think Newt Gingrich had a lot of baggage going into his campaign, that’s nothing compared to Hilary’s history.

    Whitewater, a failed national health care initiative in 1994, backing the Iraq War, and now Benghazi. Oh, and let’s not forget that the entire Citizen’s United case was based upon a video about her that Democrats didn’t want to get out. Finally, don’t just assume its Republicans that will be using this stuff to slander her. There will be plenty of other Democrats that will be running starting in 2015. Don’t think for a second that some of them won’t use the dirty laundry against her to win the nomination.

  3. Craig Knauss

    Nef,

    How much did Cheney’s draft dodging and GWB’s desertion hurt them? Even after their unbelievably hypocritical war-mongering they still got re-elected.

  4. Craig Knauss

    Pat,

    Ok, I freely admit that this is off topic, but I wanted to share it with everyone.

    The Minnesota House of Representatives has just approved same sex marriage. Michelle Bachmann must be spinning in her closet.

    http://www.cnn.com/2013/05/10/us/minnesota-same-sex-marriage/

  5. Neftali: You’re the one who’s not thinking this through.

    If Barack Obama can get elected twice in electoral landslides despite the mountains of garbage thrown at him by every slack-jawed wingnut in America, I think Hillary can survive whatever the Republicans can cook up to denigrate her.

    Let me remind you that Democratic candidates have carried the popular vote in five of the six presidential elections since Rush Limbaugh, the guru of right-wing extremists, became a national figure. And Democratic candidates have carried the popular vote in four of the five presidential elections since the launch of Fox News Channel.

    The Republican base keeps getting smaller and smaller, and those kooks are only talking to themselves. Despite all the problems facing America, the elections of last November saw Democrats winning the majority of votes for the White House and for both houses of Congress. Only gerrymandering of congressional district boundaries saved the Republicans from losing control of the House.

    If Hillary is the Democratic nominee in 2016, she’ll be a heavy favorite to defeat whomever the Republicans nominate to run against her.

  6. One other thing, Neftali:

    You implied the other day that Democrats are afraid of Ted Cruz, which is laughable on its face.

    The Republicans’ Benghazi circus shows us where the real fear is. Those people are scared to death that Hillary will win in ’16 and again in ’20. Recent history is on her side, and demographics are on her side.

    If Hillary wins two terms, the Republicans will have lost the popular vote in seven out of eight presidential elections.

    The Repubs know what they’re up against, and it scares the hell out of them.

    What’s more, they find themselves captives of their party’s weirdest elements. Any Republican who dares to show even a hint of moderation on the issues runs the risk of being primaried by a Tea Party type.

    Yeah, these are not happy days for the GOP.

  7. Neftali

    Unbelievable. Its not even half way through 2013 and Pat is already talking like the 2020 election is in the bag, meaning that by the time Hilary leaves office, she will be close to 80!

    Tell me, oh great soothsayer, so who will win the 2024 election? I’m planning on retiring around 2040…any idea who is going to win that one?

  8. Neftali: You need a remedial reading course.

    I said “if Hillary wins two terms…” Repeat: IF. I didn’t say it was “in the bag” — and, of course, I don’t think it’s in the bag.

    I simply used the prospects of two terms for Hillary to dramatize the point that Republicans have been faring poorly in the presidential popular vote over the past several decades.

    Now, why don’t you go back to the drawing board and come up with another ridiculous theory on why Democrats are afraid of Ted Cruz?

    You have a strange penchant, Neftali, for alternately making a bit of sense and then coming up with something preposterous.

  9. Neftali

    To slightly borrow from Jeff Foxworthy….

    You might be a liberal….. if you think Elizabeth Warren is a Native American, but Ted Cruz is not Hispanic.

  10. Steverino

    The Native American may be elected after our eight years with Hillary.

  11. Neftali: Every liberal I know readily concedes that Ted Cruz is Hispanic, but you dishonestly pretend that liberals in general dispute Cruz’s Hispanic heritage.

    All you’ve got is one guy, Bill Richardson, who misspoke when he said: “I don’t think he [Cruz] should be defined as a Hispanic.” What Richardson meant, as he made clear in other parts of that same interview, is that he thinks Cruz it out of step with mainstream Hispanic politics.

    He said of Cruz: “I don’t like his politics…He’s anti-immigration…Almost every Hispanic in the country wants to see immigration reform.”

    By the way, Cruz’s opposition of immigration reform is just another reason why Democrats don’t fear him. On the contrary, as I said here the other day, Democrats want to make Cruz the face of the Republican Party.

  12. Robert

    Are we all going to be defined by our parents and grandparents heritage now? And all have hyphenated ancestries? Ted Cruz was born in Canada? My grandparents were born in Sicily on my mothers side. Why does this guy represent the Latino faction anymore than I would the Sicilian? Why Isn’t Ted Cruz not representing the Canadian immigrant cause?

    “Cruz was born in Calgary, Alberta, Canada[1], where his parents, Eleanor Darragh and Rafael Cruz, were working in the oil business.[9][10] His father was a Cuban immigrant to the United States during the Cuban Revolution.[11] His mother was born and reared in Delaware, in a family of Irish and Italian descent.[10][12] Cruz’s parents, who had both attended college in Texas, returned there when Ted was about four years old.[11]“

  13. Neftali

    Robert doesn’t seem to think Cruz is Hispanic. So now you know 2 people. And speaking of rights for “undocumented workers”, they can now serve on juries in California. I suppose I can let that one pass….the whole “trial by jury of your peers” and all. But what’s real crazy, even for the loony libs, is that in New York there is legislation pending to give non-citizens the right to vote. How convenient that is. Might as well let all their Socialist friends in Europe vote in our elections while we’re at it.

  14. Craig Knauss

    Nef,

    Please feel free to tell us just who it is that hires the “undocumented workers”.

    Man up, Nef. Tell us.

  15. “I noted HERE yesterday that Clinton’s name was mentioned almost five times as often as President Obama’s in Wednesday’s House Oversight Committee hearing on Benghazi.”

    Yeah… so did Jed Lewison @ Daily Kos:

    15: Number of times President Barack Obama was mentioned during the hearing
    71: Number of times fmr. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton was mentioned

    Evidently, you and Lewison can’t imagine why Clinton – the “fmr. secretary of state,” whose duty it was to protect the lives of Chris Stevens, Sean Smith and ex-Navy SEALs Tyrone Woods and Glen Doherty who were killed under her watch – would be “mentioned” so many times during a hearing aimed at finding out who was responsible for the decisions that ultimately led to their deaths.

    “But I’m betting that the next batch of polls measuring Clinton’s popularity will show that she remains far more well-liked among the American people than any Republican politician in the land.”

    While I’m sure there are enough “low information” liberals to nominate Hillary to become the Democratic presidential candidate in 2016. I’m betting she’d stand the proverbial snowball’s chance in hell of getting back into the White House.

    Like I’ve said:

    “While Benghazi is, without question, the most egregious display of Clinton’s incompetence – and further proof of her subsequent endeavors to engage in a calculated effort to hide her deleterious ineptitude – the list of her scandals is long.

    Ultimately, should Clinton decide to make a run at the presidency in 2016, she better start figuring out how she’s going to make a “corkscrew landing” through her past and start practicing how to duck the sniper fire that is sure to ensue as she runs across the campaign tarmac.”

    I dare you — and anyone else — to read my article (“Benghazi: Clinton’s ‘corkscrew landing’ for 2016″) and come back with a FACT-BASED argument to refute my assessment.

  16. Robert

    Nef, I didn’t say he wasn’t Hispanic, I said his country of origin is Canada. Isn’t his heritage just as much Canadian as it is Hispanic, of which he is only half.

    Like I said, should my heritage on my mothers side qualify me to be a representative of the Sicilian community? I love my heritage, but I’m an American. Too much is being made of people’s heritage these days.

    Are they American or are they Mexican? There are places where I live that look like Mexican villages. All the signage is Spanish. If it was a tourist attraction, I might understand it but its not.

    A liberal friend of mine tried to tell me that the Italian communities back when they immigrated here would have looked similar. I say BS. I’ve seen old pictures. The name of the business was Italian but the ads and language used on the store front windows was English. Heck, many of my relatives couldn’t even read or write much (but they did well)

    My relatives and past immigrant generations of all nationalities, came here to be Americans. There in lies the difference with today’s immigrants. As I’ve said before, I’m with Pat Buchanan on this issue. This politically correct position of hyphenating identities is not good for America.

  17. Ted Biondo

    Pat, I just have one question. Arms flailing – What difference, at this point, does it make?

  18. Brian Opsahl

    It’s amazing how much care and effort you republicans have about those poor 4 Embassy employees killed in Benghazi….but not one of you sick son-of-a-guns said anything when 3000 Americans were murdered when Bush was President…..

    Pat I challenge you to show me anything writen by any republican that shows as much concearn for the 3000 then you do for just the 4 killed in Benghazi….tic,toc……

  19. Patricia Campion

    Nice distraction, Brian (although I do find it rather disturbing that you would minimize the American lives lost in Benghazi because there were “just” four of them)… but this article was about Hillary — and Cunningham’s attempt the Benghazi tarnish from her otherwise dull political career ahead of her inevitable (yet ill-fated) effort to get back into the White House in 2016 — not about what happened 12 years ago.

    Let’s start with Cunningham’s fantastic bet — “that the next batch of polls measuring Clinton’s popularity will show that she remains far more well-liked among the American people than any Republican politician in the land.”

    A June survey by Bloomberg showed that her December 2012 popularity score of 70% has plummeted to 58%.

    While the poll gave her a substantial edge over Sen. Marco Rubio (R-Fla.)… her lead over New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie (R) is only 8 percentage points… hardly meeting Cunningham’s “far more well-liked” prediction.

    A June Gallup poll showed that Hillary’s favorability rating tumbled 6 points and that her unfavorable rating jumped 8 points.

    May’s Quinnipiac poll showed that she has taken a 9-point hit, as a direct result of her ineptitude regarding Benghazi.

    And, while it also showed that she would beat Sen. Rand Paul of Kentucky and former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush in 2016… who is to say they will be her challengers?

    More importantly… what will Hillary’s poll numbers be three years from now… when her incompetence in handling the entire issue of Benghazi becomes a major focus?

    Oh… and you do know that — following the revelations offered about the deplorable response to the attack by Hillary and the State Department by Gregory Hicks last month — Darrell Issa is making preparations to call Hillary to testify before the House Oversight Committee… don’t you?

    Of course, if she decides to run in 2016, she will have to come up with something she can say she actually accomplished as secretary of state… other than breaking the frequent flyer miles record at the expense of taxpayers.

    As Morton Kondracke wrote for Roll Call last month:

    “Other than speaking forcefully for the rights of women — who are probably now more endangered than ever in the Muslim world — it’s hard to name a single foreign policy breakthrough that the Obama administration or its chief diplomat has achieved.”

    By the time 2016 rolls around, should Hillary become the Democratic presidential candidate — while her lack of accomplishments as secretary of state will make it difficult for her to convince an American majority that she would be any more successful as president — the relentless focus on her failures regarding Benghazi will teach her what it feels like to make a REAL corkscrew landing in hostile territory and to dodge the constant sniper fire of tough questions as she ducks and runs across the campaign tarmac.

    As for you Ted… That question — “What difference, at this point, does it make?” I predict that it will become the fodder for MANY political campaign ads to be run day and night by her presidential opponents… starting with her fellow Democrat hopefuls.

    (Cue her 2008, 3 AM phone call commercial…. images of the burning consulate in Benghazi… video footage of the terrorists parading the body of Chris Stevens through the streets…. riiiiiinnnnnnngggggg…………. riiiiiiinnnnnngggg…… riiiiiiiiinnnnnnggg……….. riiiiiiiinnnnngggg………………………………..)

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