The Republicans' repeated and fruitless Benghazi investigations backfired today when they brought down their own speaker-in-waiting instead of the Democratic presidential frontrunner they spent many millions of tax dollars trying to shoot down.

In a stunning move Thursday noon, Republican Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy dropped out of the race to succeed John Boehner as speaker of the House.  His quest for the top job on Capitol Hill was done in by a serious self-inflicted wound. 

He committed the serious sin of telling the truth and that cost him his dream job.

His candid admission on Fox News that the Benghazi hearings were not really about the September 11, 2012, Libyan attack that killed four American diplomats but a subterfuge for a plan to damage Hillary Clinton's poll numbers in her run for president.

For a good analysis of the GOP's Benghazi strategy click here.

A New York Times editorial Wednesday called on Republicans to "shut down the Benghazi committee." 

McCarthy admitted, as reported by the Political Insider here earlier, the latest Benghazi investigation was intended to undermine Clinton's credibility and brand her "untrustable."

His subsequent efforts to explain that he may have said that but it's not what he meant didn't wash. Like so many in Washington, his ambitions were crippled by shooting himself in both feet while they were planted in his mouth.

McCarthy's withdrawal was a major victory for the party's extreme right wing that announced it had about 40 votes in the 247-member Republican caucus; it takes 218 votes to elect a Speaker. That's is not enough to put one of their own in that post but enough to undermine and intimidate the leadership, and they have Boehner's resignation as proof. 

The new leadership team that will be crafted by the end of the month, when Boehner said he will leave, is expected to lean even father to the right and raise serious questions about whether this Congress can accomplish anything in the coming year. Meanwhile, the party is doing a good impression of a circular firing squad.

The Tea Party movement seems to be calling the shots these days, and its followers believe compromise is a mortal sin. Not just compromise with Democrats but apparently compromise with their own party's traditional conservatives as well.

The extreme right, which has no clear leader in the House, is greatly influenced by Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas) and, unlike Boehner, are willing to shut down the government in their zeal to block funding for Planned Parenthood and prevent raising the federal debt limit.

About the Author
Douglas M. Bloomfield is a syndicated columnist, Washington lobbyist and consultant. He spent nine years as the legislative director and chief lobbyist for AIPAC.