Benghazi is a buzzword that’s getting thrown around in 2016. It’s also one of the central themes of the opening night of the Republican National Convention.
Republicans claim it’s one of the biggest (and deadliest) scandals of Hillary Clinton’s career. Democrats argue it’s a partisan witch hunt to muddy Clinton’s reputation.
But wade through the partisan mudslinging and campaign ads and you have an issue that feels deeply personal for millions of active and retired military. Congressman Ryan Zinke (R-MT), a former Navy SEAL, is one of the leading speakers of Monday’s RNC lineup. I spoke with him on Monday afternoon and asked him: politics aside, and despite the fact that Democrats claim Republicans need to “move on,” what’s the one thing every voter needs to understands about Benghazi and Hillary Clinton?
His answer was simple: “It could have been prevented.” And in an election where Hillary Clinton is billing herself as the candidate with experience, voters need to know that Clinton’s “experience” led to a drastic and deadly security failure.
Why were U.S. personnel abroad not put on more alert on September 11, an infamous anniversary? Why were U.S. resources not mobilized in response? Clinton says she has experience, but as Congressman Zinke put it: “That’s not the experience I want.”
Then there’s the issue of “judgement” that Clinton routinely brings up. As Zinke pointed out, what kind of judgement leads you to create a false narrative about why the attack happened? We now know Benghazi wasn’t the result of a video, but that’s the line the Obama Administration pushed for days – and a scandal that Clinton was complicit in.
Here’s the bottom line. The Benghazi investigation is over. Clinton has escaped any evidence of serious wrong-doing. Democrats routinely whine that Republicans need to “get over it” or “move on.”
But Clinton is asking voters in 2016 to compare her and Trump’s experience and judgment. Benghazi can, should, and will be a part of that equation.