Benghazi, IRS, Fast and Furious, Solyndra, Whitewater. Whenever the GOP targets the White House and goes into scandal overdrive, they always miss the target.
As I lay out in Real Clear Politics today, sometimes the misses are spectacular boomerangs, like the Clinton impeachment trial, the 2012 Benghazi debate fact-check and the 11-hour Benghazi hearing. Sometimes they just fizzle out. But they never actually derail a presidency.
It may not always feel that way when the attacks attract so much media attention, and especially when they impact poll numbers. Anything that’s a distraction to a campaign or a policy agenda is treated like a win for the opposition party.
But the problem for Republicans is that scandal-mongering is a distraction for them as well, a distraction from developing an actual policy agenda compelling to voters.
Since little things like keeping the government open divide the modern Republican Party, forging a party consensus over specific policies to improve the economy is a pipe dream. Why slog through all that hard work to win an election when a nice juicy scandal can do that for you?
The problem for Republicans is that you can’t short-cut your way to a governing mandate.
Republican credibility remains shot after the colossal failures of the Bush presidency. They need to offer proof they won’t make the same mistakes if they control both the executive and legislative branches again.
Instead of spending the time to identify new ideas, craft polices and corral support for those policies among party members, Republicans spent the last few years going down the Benghazi and IRS rabbit holes.
The end result was the Benghazi hearing bust. Perhaps this will be the wake-up call they need to start working on a real policy agenda that represents a break from the failed Bush presidency, but it may be too late for the 2016 elections.