The journalistic establishment is convinced that the investigation into the attacks on Benghazi is a partisan sideshow that is unlikely to unearth any new information, the fact that new information was unearthed just weeks ago as a result of a Freedom of Information Act request notwithstanding.
Nevertheless, reporters are quite sure that any investigation into the preparation for and response to the Benghazi attack is purely political. CNN’s Erin Burnett summed it up best when she declared on Wednesday night that even the word Benghazi has “become like abortion.” Meaning, the issue has grown so polarizing that there are few people left who can be persuaded to change their already settled opinion on the matter.
Outside of the newsroom, however, opinions about Benghazi seem to be far less set in stone. On Thursday, Fox News Sunday host Chris Wallace revealed that, according to the crosstabs on the latest Fox News poll, Democrats are just as eager for a definitive investigation into Benghazi as are Republicans in Congress.
A majority (55 percent) of self-identified Democrats agree with the 67 percent of respondents who approve of the creation of a select committee to investigate the attacks. 66 percent of independent voters share interest in a thorough Benghazi investigation. While Democratic voters disagree with the majorities who believe that both President Barack Obama and former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton have been dishonest with the public in regards to the attack, they clearly want answers to the many outstanding questions surrounding Benghazi. Even if they only seek those answers to exonerate the administration, this implies that even Democrats believe there are more details about the attack that have not yet been revealed to the public.
That comes as a surprise only to those who refuse to acknowledge that there are outstanding questions relating to that attack. Writing in National Review, Jim Geraghty critiques MSNBC’s Chuck Todd, who recently insisted that “all the questions” relating to Benghazi “have been answered.” In a thorough post, Geraghty outlines just how many questions relating to the attack and its aftermath have not been answered and why the slow drip of information coming out of the White House begs for a stronger response from congressional investigators.
But while the country clearly believes there is more to the Benghazi story, and it is perfectly appropriate to investigate the White House’s handling of that attack, the latest Fox poll has its share of red flags for the GOP, too.
When asked if Republicans in Congress are investigating the Benghazi attacks out of a desire to get to the truth or to secure “political gain” for themselves, 63 percent said that the GOP’s motives were not entirely pure.
Those results include 65 percent of self-identified independents and 61 percent of women. In fact, the only subgroups who believe the GOP truly wants to get at the truth on Benghazi are self-described Republicans and tea partiers. With Congressional approval averaging at approximately 14 percent, the Benghazi investigation has the potential to cast the House’s Republican members in a negative light.
This is a perilous condition for Republicans heading into the midterms. Lethargic Democratic partisans could become energized and Republican-leaning independents repulsed if the Benghazi investigation comes to be perceived as overtly political.
For now, however, this survey indicates that voters want to see a full accounting of events of what happened before and after the Benghazi attacks. The GOP has a mandate to pursue those answers, but voters have little patience left for the GOP and that mandate could quickly evaporate.
[Image via Esam Al-Fetori / Reuters]
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