A year after it began, the IRS targeting controversy has been overtaken by the Benghazi attacks on the oversight agenda of House Republicans

GOP lawmakers and aides say that the various IRS inquiries haven’t uncovered anything like a recently discovered email on Benghazi, in which a key administration official briefs Susan Rice, then the United Nations ambassador, on upcoming Sunday show appearances…

Republicans also say that there are still multiple avenues they need to explore when it comes to Benghazi, while all roads lead to Lerner on the IRS investigation.

“You’re doing a special prosecutor because you’re actually focused on one person at this point who becomes the center point of what’s happening,” said Rep. James Lankford (R-Okla.), who is in the midst of a contested GOP Senate primary. “Benghazi is not dealing with one person at this point.”

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Where is the Democrats’ Howard Baker? Where is the courageous member of President Obama’s party willing to stand up and ask, “What did the president know, and when did he know it?”…

Baker helped bring Watergate out of the shadow of partisanship and into the sunlight of serious inquiry. When he took an adversarial role against the president of his own party, he added muscle and credibility to the Democrat-led hearings. And the nation sat transfixed, even while on vacation, as those hearings played out on TV in the summer of ’73…

Without Democratic questioning, rather than blind support for the president, the major news media –except for Fox News — will continue to play the story that Obama and fellow Democrats are spinning: The Benghazi investigation is a partisan witch-hunt full of old news. And creation of a special House committee to look into the role of the White House in crafting the video story will continue to be dismissed as an election-year stunt by Republicans.

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“[These are] very dangerous political waters,” [Charles Krauthammer] said to Megyn Kelly on Fox News Thursday night. “Think about this, Megyn. If this is 2014, the winds are right behind the Republicans approaching the election on all the major issues.”

The hearings, he said, can accordingly hurt the GOP as it approaches the midterms with some policy advantages.

“Benghazi hearings can only distract from this at best and really wreck it at worst if they turn into a partisan circus,” Krauthammer said. “So far from being a political advantage for Republicans, this is a very high-risk operation and it requires someone like [House select committee chairman Rep. Trey] Gowdy.”

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The select committee will be headed by Rep. Trey Gowdy, a skilled 16-year prosecutor. He needs to keep the hearings clean and strictly fact-oriented. Questions only, no speechifying. Every sentence by every GOP committee member must end with a question mark. Should any committee Republican instead make a declarative statement ending in a period, the chairman should immediately, by button, deliver an electric shock through the violator’s seat…

We now know the White House was pushing the “video made them do it” coverup, lest the blame be placed on administration policy. Who was involved in that decision, obviously designed to protect a president campaigning that al-Qaeda was “on the run”?

What difference does it make? The difference between truth and falsehood. The difference between a brazen stonewall that is exposed and one that succeeds…

[T]he country deserves the truth. They’ll get it if the GOP can keep the proceedings clean, factual and dispassionate. No speeches. No grandstanding. Gowdy has got to be a tough disciplinarian — especially toward his own side of the aisle.

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We are going on two years, and it now belongs to the ages. If the GOP decides that it wants to make uncovering what went on there — as well as the potential cover-up — a primary objective, is that not a legitimate project? Barack Obama arguably became president based on his opposition to the Iraq War. Was he exploiting the people who died for the liberation of Iraq, or was he taking a legitimate political stance on one of the defining questions of our time? Possibly, the answer is both.

What if Obama legitimately wanted to make sure Americans never again entered into such a quagmire? What if Republicans want to ensure another American ambassador is never again dragged through the streets — and that the American public gets to learn what really happened? Is that wrong?…

If you want to raise money to fight poverty, are you exploiting the poor? If you want to raise money to improve education, are you doing it on the backs of uneducated kids? It sort of depends, doesn’t it? If you’re a con artist or someone seeking personal aggrandizement, that’s entirely different than if you are sincerely interested in changing things. Again, this comes back to how we view politics and politicians — how cynical we are about them…

At the end of the day, there is a very good reason why Republicans shouldn’t raise money off of Benghazi, and that is that it is bad politics. For whatever reason, we have decided it is a bad thing — that the optics are bad, or that it creates the impression the select committee is tainted — and that is, in and of itself, enough reason not to do this. The irony, of course, is that raising money on Benghazi is actually more honest and direct — less phony — than putting forth the appearances that one is above such things. We are all phonies.

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There is a simple fact about the Cairo demonstration that the Obama administration has been eager to ignore. The rally wasn’t just anti-Innocence of Muslims; it was pro-al Qaeda. Dozens of al Qaeda flags were flown by the crowd. One of the black banners was raised to replace the Stars and Stripes above the embassy. And the protesters chanted, “Obama, Obama, we are all Osama!” The same chant would be heard at protests at other U.S. embassies in the days to come.

Not every protester who showed up at the Cairo rally was an al Qaeda supporter. But enough of them were. And the protest showed that men such as Mohammed al Zawahiri could use a previously obscure video to whip up anti-American outrage.

Eerily, the protests validated a key argument made by Ayman al Zawahiri, the head of al Qaeda, in a video released on September 10. The post-bin Laden al Qaeda master said that while the terrorist group has lost key leaders in its war with America, its ideology is spreading. That al Qaeda video cuts to a clip of Mohammed al Zawahiri proselytizing in Cairo just as the elder Zawahiri makes this argument. An al Qaeda flag flying over the U.S. embassy in Cairo the following day proved the point…

Contrary to the talking points of Ben Rhodes and the Obama administration, the terrorist attack in Ben-ghazi and the assaults on American embassies elsewhere in the fall of 2012 were a monumental “failure of policy.” Rhodes and other administration officials, including President Obama, claimed during a presidential election year to have al Qaeda “on the run.” Instead, groups that were, at a minimum, inspired by al Qaeda’s ideology were growing and attacking American interests.

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Consider what we’ve seen just over the past two months:

After repeatedly suggesting that they’d released all documents related to the Benghazi talking points, the administration was forced by a court to release some previously withheld emails. The White House explanation for its stonewalling? That the documents released as part of a FOIA request for documents about Benghazi were not, in fact, about Benghazi. This isn’t a good-faith misunderstanding, it’s an obvious attempt to deceive…

Obama administration officials have long claimed that Susan Rice was simply repeating intelligence community talking points in her September 16, 2012, television appearances. But those talking points didn’t once mention the anti-Islam video that Rice placed at the center of her narrative. Indeed, in the 100 pages of emails related to the talking points, released by the White House in May 2013, the video was mentioned just twice—once on a list of cables and again as the subject line on an email concerning a White House meeting. If the intelligence community had believed that the video was the proximate cause of the Benghazi attacks, one assumes intelligence officials might have discussed it in emails. When former deputy CIA director Michael Morell was asked last month about Rice’s reliance on the video, he testified: “When she talked about the video, my reaction was that was not something the analysts attributed this attack to.”

Add these recent developments to the vast landscape of previously discredited claims from top administration officials—on al Qaeda involvement, on the talking points, on the video, on transparency—and you have an issue that demands further investigation.

To claim otherwise is, well, crazy.

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Via RCP.