Two Cheers For the House Republicans: But to Earn Three Cheers They Need to Take this Next Step

Fred J. Eckert

6/20/2013 12:01:00 AM - Fred J. Eckert

House Republicans finally stood up to Speaker John Boehner this week and warned him that if he attempts to jam down their throats any immigration bill that does not have the support of at least half the House Republicans, they will oust him as Speaker.

Boehner promptly capitulated and did an about face. Reminded me of something Ronald Reagan often said to me, “If you can’t make them see the light, make them feel the heat.”

So two cheers for the House Republicans. But only two.

They’ll merit three cheers only if they wake up and see the obvious and take the next logical step: force Boehner to quit aiding and abetting the Obama Administration’s Benghazi cover-up operations by his single-handedly blocking action on a proposal that more than two-thirds the House Republicans strongly support that is so clearly in the best interest of the country.

Boehner had lately been proclaiming that “immigration reform” was at the top of his agenda and even suggested in an interview with ABC News’s chief Democratic Party pitchman George Stephanopoulos that he was quite open to pushing through a bill opposed by most of his fellow House Republicans, something he has not hesitated to do before given his seeming fixation on annoying and humiliating conservatives.

“I would consider that a betrayal of the Republican members of the House and a betrayal of the Republicans throughout the country,” Congressman Dana Rohrabacher (R-CA) said in a radio interview the other day and added that if Boehner dared do that “he should be removed as Speaker.”

Good for Rohrabacher. He said aloud what surely any sensible House Republican was thinking. By doing so he brought about an open confrontation in which at a behind- closed-doors meeting Boehner was subjected to the wrath of conservatives who were resolved that they were not going to take it anymore.

Apparently it sunk in that a consensus was emerging that not only should Boehner be removed if he did not bend to the wishes of the majority of House Republicans on this, he would be. Exiting that showdown, Boehner exhibited a remarkable change of heart by unequivocally stating to the waiting media that no way would he take up any immigration bill that did not have the support of a majority of House Republicans.

Looks pretty encouraging, huh?

Just a minute here. Before House Republicans and conservatives get carried away with patting ourselves on the back about forcing Boehner to do the right thing on dealing with immigration and we conservatives give the House Republicans our cheers for doing so, let’s pay some closer attention to something they still persist in letting Boehner get away with: botching prospects for getting to the bottom of the Benghazi scandal.

For more than six months now, Speaker Boehner has been single-handedly blocking a House vote on the proposal by the highly-respected conservative House Republican Frank Wolf of Virginia to create a House Select Committee on the terrorist attack in Benghazi, a select committee being generally regarded as the best way – many think the only way -- to insure an intelligent, well-coordinated, bipartisan investigation without fear or favor that will lead us to the truth.

More than two of three House Republicans have demonstrated their strong support for Wolf’s select committee proposal by co-sponsoring it – 158 of them.

Those joining these two-thirds plus of House Republicans in supporting Wolf’s select committee approach include:

· Family members of Americans murdered in the Benghazi attack.

· The Federal Law Enforcement Officers Association, representing 26,000 federal law enforcement officers including Diplomatic Security Service officers, FBI agents, US Marshalls, Secret Service agents and Border Patrol agents.

· OPSEC, a non-partisan organization of former intelligence community and special operations forces members, including SEALS, Army Special Forces, and other service branches involved in special operations.

· Commentators such as Charles Krauthammer and George Will and the editorial board of The Wall Street Journal.

While single-handedly blocking this intelligent, sensible, efficient and effective approach, Boehner insists instead on the incredibly dimwitted tactic of just letting every one of the committees that can claim any jurisdiction whatsoever investigate and hold hearings. So what if each committee cannot probe beyond its own rather limited jurisdictional boundaries? So what if it means six different committees going in six different directions? So what if those committees total 239 members, more than half of the House?

Surely Boehner must realize that this guarantees chaos, confusion, excessive bickering and a needlessly long-drawn-out process with minimal prospect of a constructive end result; that this will enable Barack Obama and his apologists to deflect attention from the core issue by dismissing investigating Benghazi as nothing but a “sideshow”; that it will embarrass House Republicans and all Republicans; that it will annoy and turn off the general public; and that it makes Republicans complicit in the Obama Administration’s long-running cover-up efforts.

What the Speaker is doing here, as I elaborated upon in a column I did for Politico Monday, raises that great question Bubba’s mother put to Forest in the movie Forest Gump, “Are you crazy or just plain stupid?” It may free Boehner from having to decide who should chair the investigation, thereby saving him from possibly offending the ones not selected and it may bring him the gratitude of six different committee chairs because each would be able to bask in the spotlight as star of his very own little Benghazi investigation – but it’s bad for Republicans and it’s worse for the country.

So let’s hold the cheers for House Republicans to two for now. They deserve credit for forcing Boehner to do the right thing with immigration. No question about that. But why in the world do they persist in letting Boehner keep them from doing the Benghazi investigation the right way?

Why aren’t they standing up to Boehner and standing up for the country on this one? Not doing so makes them look weak. It makes them look both foolish and derelict in duty. It makes them look more concerned about crossing John Boehner than they are about protecting and enhancing the national security of the United States.

House Republicans – and the rest of us – need to ask: If it would have been so terrible for Boehner to permit a vote on a bad measure that half of House Republicans oppose, is it not every bit as terrible for Boehner to block a vote on a good measure that more than two-thirds of House Republicans support so strongly that they are co-sponsoring it?

Yesterday, in yet another letter to Speaker Boehner, Congressman Frank Wolf pleaded:

The Select Committee legislation needs to be swiftly brought to the floor for a vote, so the House can hold public hearings over the summer – focused exclusively on the core issues about why no assistance was sent to the Americans under fire in Benghazi – and attempt to provide a final public report by the first anniversary of this attack… much of the House’s investigation on Benghazi to date has centered on secondary discussions like the “talking points” and the Accountability Review Board process, to the detriment of more fundamental issues like the administration’s apparent abandonment of Americans who were facing a deadly siege.

Wolf reminded Boehner – and all of us – that when terrorist attacked us in Benghazi, They did so with deadly consequence, and their attack was met with silence from a superpower. This is a black mark on our national history. It emboldens others with similarly gruesome aims. It leaves vulnerable Americans serving in dangerous posts. And ultimately, the lack of transparency from the various government agencies and entities involved undermines the faith of the American people in their government. This is a less obvious “casualty” of that dark day, but it has lasting implications which we as public servants know well. For in a functioning democracy there is a sacred trust that must exist between the government and the governed and that trust is precipitously eroding.

So let’s hear three cheers for Congressman Frank Wolf, who had the wisdom to recognize and six months ago put forward what’s best for America with his intelligent approach on how to properly investigate Benghazi and the courage to persist against the odds against the House Republican “leadership” that so often does not seem to understand the meaning of the word.

The other House Republicans will join Frank Wolf in earning their third cheer only when they stand up and force John Boehner to also back down on this critical issue that Wolf has been so right on all along.

Just as they did this week on immigration, they need without any further delay to let Speaker Boehner know in no uncertain terms that unless he fights alongside these two-thirds of House Republicans in their smart approach to getting to the full truth about Benghazi instead of fighting against them on it the way he’s been doing these past six months, they will oust him as Speaker and his speakership will be best remembered as yet another casualty of Benghazi.