Benghazi: The GOP’s Latest GOTV Ploy

We all know that this midterm election is going to come down to turnout.  Both sides are working in overdrive to motivate and mobilize their base.

So it didn’t really surprise me a few weeks ago, when RNC Communications Director Sean Spicer and I were on one of the Sunday shows and he said, “It’s clear that Obamacare is still the number one, number two, number three issue going into this election.”

Underscoring Sean’s point, Republicans have crippled our government and its ability to do anything to help the middle class by gumming up the works with more than 50 votes to repeal or undermine the ACA – even as polling showed the majority of Americans reject that approach.

But a funny thing happened – the website got fixed, enrollment surged, the uninsured rate dropped to its lowest level in years, and millions of Americans started to receive better, more affordable health care and experience protections against insurance company abuses.

As Obamacare started working, Republican attacks stopped working.

And even more troubling for Republicans, the attacks started to soften even with their own base.

  • Among conservatives, opposition to the Affordable Care Act has dropped 20 percentage points since November (81% in November to 61% as of late March ) [ABC/WaPo Poll]
  • The number of self-identified Republicans who believe the Affordable Care Act will make their lives worse dropped by more than 20 percentage points in just the last month (72% in early March to 51% in mid- April) [Gallup]
  • In Republican districts that are the most likely to flip to Democratic control in the 2014 midterm elections, 54% of respondents support implementing and fixing the law versus 40% who want to repeal and replace the law. This is a significant shift from December when those numbers were 48% and 44%, respectively. [Huffington Post]

Then, a few weeks ago the right found a new cause celebre for the base – Cliven Bundy.  For days, right-wing “media” and several Republican leaders rushed to his defense, touting him as the latest martyr in their obsessive struggle against Barack Obama and the federal government.

That didn’t work out so well for them.

So, after losing two of their most potent base motivators in a matter of just a few weeks, Republicans and right-leaning outlets turned to an old stand-by: Benghazi.

Don’t believe me? Ask the RNC themselves. As Reuters reported yesterday, “But Republican political officials say Benghazi is a subject of intense interest for the party’s conservative base of support, who are likely voters in November. ‘We’re going to use every opportunity we can to highlight it,’ said Republican National Committee spokeswoman Kirsten Kukowski.”

A simple Nexis search tells the tale. (chart courtesy of Daily Kos.)

 chart

Let’s be clear.  The attack in Benghazi was a national tragedy.

Since that day, the Obama Administration has been focused on bringing those responsible to justice, and improving security for Americans serving in our diplomatic missions overseas.  Immediately following the attack, President Obama and Secretary Clinton appointed an Accountability Review Board to get to the bottom of what happened in Benghazi.  They completed an in-depth review and made 29 specific recommendations to improve embassy security and help ensure a tragedy like this never happens again.

The Administration has moved swiftly to implement these recommendations.

Congressional Republicans?  Not so much.  They’re more focused on scoring cheap political points than making sure a tragedy like this never happens again. Congress still needs to provide funding for embassy construction and security at the level request by the White House in the FY15 Budget.

Instead, what we’ve gotten is:

  • 13 hearings
  • 50 briefings
  • 25,000 pages of documents provided in response to congressional requests and subpoenas
  • Multiple right-wing conspiracy theories
  • Millions of wasted taxpayer dollars

And now, we get to waste more taxpayer dollars and time with a new “select committee” – chaired by a Tea Party Republican who has turned conspiracy theories into an art form, and who said in 2012 “we’ll have committee hearings until the Lord comes back, if that’s what it takes!”

The fact that Republicans are dishonoring the memory of those lost with yet another partisan witch hunt is evidence that they either recognize their own incompetence over the past two years, or that this is merely about attacking the incumbent President in 2014 and potential presidential candidates in 2016.

This is a crass partisan GOTV program masquerading as congressional hearings – at the expense of the taxpayer, our national dignity, and (even worse) the memory of those lost.

- Mo

Mo Elleithee| Communications Director
Democratic National Committee
Twitter: @moelleithee

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