Kevin McCarthy hasn’t even been elected speaker of the House yet, and he’s already got himself a political mess. Speaking to Sean Hannity, the current majority leader said this:
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. But no one would have known any of that had happened, had we not fought.
The comments have occasioned much noise, much alleged outrage, and much handwringing. Republicans have been saying, the thinking goes, that the Benghazi committee was a disinterested, careful look into what happened in Libya on September 11, 2012. And now McCarthy has gone and given away the game, admitting it’s a political stunt. That makes it a classic “Kinsley gaffe”: when a politician screws up and accidentally tells the truth.
Color me unimpressed. The most surprising thing about this quotation is McCarthy’s coining of the word “untrustable.”
Deeming this a Kinsley gaffe requires that the truth that is revealed be new, and that there be someone surprised by it. So here’s the question: Are there people who didn’t think the Benghazi committee was designed from the start, at least in large part, to deflate Clinton? From the moment the attack happened, it was clear to Republicans that it could be used as a cudgel against her, and they’ve done so effectively. Most prominently, the committee hasn’t revealed any serious dereliction on her part, but it has circuitously led to the email scandal that has badly wounded her. Even Republicans who had serious questions about Benghazi can’t have had any misconceptions about the political edge to the process.