Last year’s events at the US consulate in Benghazi should make Hillary Clinton think carefully about running in 2016.
The current byword that is currently being used to describe the Obama White House is ‘scandalous’. Whether it is the IRS discriminating against conservatives, spying on the Associated Press, or even asking a marine to hold an umbrella for him whilst he was giving a press conference (one of the few things that the Commander-in-Chief is not allowed to do).
However, the one issue that is gathering more traction than anything else is Benghazi. Democrats had thought that this had gone away, that the furore over the attacks in Libya was nothing more than a conservative pastime. However, the attacks on the handling of the crisis are growing in volume and ferocity. Even traditionally liberal sources are beginning to realise that the tragedy of Benghazi has far greater implications than many originally realised. A focus on the issue by CNN, the Daily Show, CBS and even MSNBC, as well as the highly respected periodical The New Yorker has made Democrats realise this is not going away.
The President is understandably under pressure from those wanting to find the truth into why a US embassy in a trouble black-spot like Libya was practically undefended and left to fall to a terrorist attack.
However, the President is not the Democrat who this scandal could damage most. He is unlikely to face impeachment over the scandal, and he cannot fight for re-election.
But one Democrat who has a lot to lose over the Benghazi fiasco is the former Secretary of State who presided over it – the front runner for the Democratic nomination in 2016: the irreplaceable Hillary Clinton.
In 2008, then Senator Clinton used an advertisement that depicted a phone ringing in the middle of the night to ask the viewer who they would prefer as Commander-in-Chief – her or the ‘inexperienced’ Barack Obama.
The Benghazi incident has effectively destroyed Clinton’s claim that she would be an effective and strong President. On her watch as Secretary of State she allowed a consulate to be stormed, hindered the military when it tried to save them, and then oversaw the misrepresentation of facts following the event. This has, in the eyes of many Americans, destroy her credibility to hold the highest office in the land.
The Republicans now have three years to prepare Benghazi themed attack ads to pummel Clinton with prior to an election. This, combined with some of the other scandals that she has been associated with, would make Chlinton a big general election risk for the Democrats.
This, combined with the fact that she still polarizes much of the country, and that her current high approval numbers would certainly diminish if people were faced with the prospect of a Hillary presidency (inactive politicians are always more popular than active ones by their very nature) means that a GOP victory in 2016 would be more likely with Hillary as the nominee.
Long time front runners are always blighted by the fact that their opponents have a reasonable period of time to build up an attack against them and – mark my words – a Benghazi fuelled campaign against Hillary would make the Mitt Romney Bain Capital attacks look like a congenial issue led campaign.
If Hillary truly cares about her party and wants them to continue occupancy of the White House in 2016, she should look very hard at her campaign and the attacks that she is going to come up against. Barack Obama’s victories should not make people forget that the Republicans are very capable at destroying Democrats in national campaigns – think ‘swift boat’.
Clinton should consider that she may not survive a national campaign if Benghazi becomes more of an issue and should, for the sake of her party, think about not running in 2016.