In his standup-comedy days, Steve Martin did a joke about imposing the death penalty for parking violations. Michael Tomasky of The Daily Beast suggests that the House Benghazi committee has a similarly disproportionate penalty in mind for Hillary Clinton over Emailgate: wrecking her presidential campaign.
Tomasky acknowledged in a Wednesday column that Hillary “screwed up this email business,” but asserted that the committee “isn’t even pretending to be about the Benghazi attacks anymore. It’s a taxpayer-funded get Clinton operation, and it’s now all about finding a smoking gun in these emails.”
Clinton is scheduled to testify before the committee in October, at which point, Tomasky contended, she can give her campaign a shot in the arm by helping “Americans to see what a fraud the committee is…[T]he email story can become not solely ‘Hillary is shifty’ but something with two layers: ‘Okay, Hillary may be shifty, but those guys are using taxpayer money to conduct an obviously partisan dirt-digging operation, and that’s worse.’”
From Tomasky’s column (bolding added):
[Hillary’s] campaign is in trouble. We know that because it’s always in trouble. That’s one of the chief rules of 2015-16 political journalism in America. Whatever it is, it’s #badforHillary.
…In policy terms, [her campaign has] been surprisingly strong…[I]n terms of middle-class economics questions, she’s embraced positions that Barack Obama, John Kerry, Al Gore, and her husband wouldn’t touch…
But very few people are paying much attention to this, because Clinton has these other two problems…The first of course is the emails. The second is a real, though often overstated by the media, enthusiasm problem…
The email story has already damaged her, there’s no doubt of that. She has one big chance to turn the story around this fall—when she testifies before the House “Benghazi” committee in October. That committee, now empanelled longer than Frank Church’s intelligence reform committee in the 1970s—an actually important committee that found out actually important things—isn’t even pretending to be about the Benghazi attacks anymore. It’s a taxpayer-funded get Clinton operation, and it’s now all about finding a smoking gun in these emails.
If Clinton handles her testimony well, she can get more Americans to see what a fraud the committee is…If the committee becomes the issue again, then the email story can become not solely “Hillary is shifty” but something with two layers: “Okay, Hillary may be shifty, but those guys are using taxpayer money to conduct an obviously partisan dirt-digging operation, and that’s worse.”
Out of 40 head-to-head polls against 11 different Republican candidates, Clinton trails in exactly two. There’s one Fox poll from mid-August where Jeb Bush and Marco Rubio each lead her by two points. But 38 other times, she’s ahead, and usually not by especially close margins. She’s +9 on John Kasich and +8.8 on Donald Trump and +4.7 on Scott Walker. Only Bush and Rubio are close. That seems to me a pretty enviable position for a floundering campaign to be in.
Nevertheless, she isn’t where she could be or should be. And [the] two maladies are related. She screwed up this email business in the first place by not using a state.gov email address, and it just gives too many supporters that “Oy, here we go again” feeling…Democrats want to know…that she’ll do her part to minimize the Clinton circus. When Democrats feel more persuaded of that, the enthusiasm will come.