Biden and Benghazi and Ryan
Gilbert N. Kahn is a professor of Political Science at Kean University.
When Joe Biden announced on Wednesday that he will not be running for President, he gave Hillary the first half of her present for the week. In announcing his decision, Biden removed one of the few remaining variables that the Clinton presidential campaign still faced. Having performed as well as she did yesterday before Congress—plus the withdrawal this week of Jim Webb and Lincoln Chafee—she is set now for smooth sailing to the Democratic nomination, barring a major personal or political mistake or eruption.
It is curious that Biden declared his decision only a day before Hillary’s appearance before the House Select Committee Investigating the Benghazi Attacks; despite his personal dislike for her, as he was not running why not help her and remove this worry also from her mind as she sat down for her Congressional grilling. Biden, like LBJ in 1960, took one for the Party.
Yesterday Hillary was in complete command and exuded control. She gave herself the second half of this week’s present in her impressive eleven hour grueling testimony before the Select Committee. She begged off no questions, while giving a strong accounting of her actions, duties, and responsibilities for the tragic losses suffered at the attack on the U.S. mission in Benghazi. As for the emailgate business she navigated well through the Republicans zingers
The other part of this week’s activity on Capitol Hill was the decision made by Representative Paul Ryan to accept the House Speakership. The issue is not his qualifications to be the Republican leader in the House, but rather the terms he set and reportedly has obtained. For a party that has operated totally against the congressional tradition of conflict resolution and compromise, Ryan appears to have demanded and received pledges from even the most extreme wing of the House GOP, the Freedom Caucus, not to obstruct him in his efforts to lead the House.
Assuming there are no last minute reconsiderations by the Tea Party wing and no glitches in his insistence on firmer discipline, Ryan will likely get a honeymoon period from his party. It might even insure the President that there will be no Government shutdown over the raising the debt ceiling in November and budget reconciliation in December. In light of this signal, it would seem that Obama and the Democrats in Congress will probably bargain more aggressively with the Republicans to test Ryan’s commitment and his mettle. The real test for Ryan probably will not come until next year when he decides how to move in response to the President’s last budget message and program initiatives.