THE BLOG

Pelosi and Kerry Capitulate on Benghazi Hearings to Win the Long Game

05/29/2014 11:17 am ET | Updated Jul 29, 2014
Tom Williams via Getty Images

Nancy Pelosi and John Kerry just blinked. After resisting Republican calls for yet another investigation into the 2012 attack on the US Consulate in Benghazi, and after resisting calls for the Secretary of State to testify, they have both suddenly folded.

A full scale capitulation.

Or is it?

Within the world of rhetoric there is a little known but highly effective strategy called the Concession Ploy. In a nutshell, this means deliberately conceding defeat in one battle so that you can win a bigger battle, and hopefully the war along with it.

Political minds might suggest that the Republican interest in further enquiries into the tragic events at Benghazi has one primary goal -- to hinder Hilary Clinton as she moves toward a likely presidential bid. If you subscribe to this view, then the primary objective of the GOP enquiries is a preemptive strike at candidate Clinton.

She's a powerful target to aim for, and the Democrat's reluctance to co-operate with Benghazi committees is consistent with an attempt to deny the GOP the oxygen of publicity -- to smother those enquiries before they can gain traction.

What has changed? The emergence of not one, but two GOP enquiries.

Hilary Clinton is a potent target for the Republicans. Within the ranks of Democrats, there can be none more strategic -- not even the president, who is now in his second and final term. The temptation of such a target appears to have proved too much for Rep. Darrel Issa, chair of the House Oversight Committee.

Imagine if you will, one of those expensive hunting retreats. A jeep-full of disciplined executive guns all train themselves onto a single target as their jeep bounces across the savannah. Should the target present itself in full sight, then there is a good chance of a kill.

That was the scenario presenting itself while the GOP had a single high-profile investigative committee chasing down Hilary Clinton, and the Dems were having none of it.

Now however, we have not one jeep, but two. Two jeeps full of eager guns racing along and all equally eager for the glory. One jeep contains John Boehner's House Select Committee on Benghazi, while the jeep jostling alongside it is none other than Darrell Issa's House Oversight Committee.

It doesn't take much of a stretch to imagine what would happen should multiple targets appear in-between the gun-sights of both jeeps. Carnage is a likely outcome, but with the carnage being the results of the occupants of those jeeps accidentally shooting each other rather than the prey.

Suddenly the Dems appear co-operative, as first Mrs Pelosi appoints a full panel to Mr Boehner's committee whilst the Secretary of State agrees to appear before Mr. Issa's.

The thought process may seem Machiavellian, but from a communications stand-point would make sense. At the very least, these apparent concessions from the Dems will create smoke. In the best outcome however, they could create a great deal more: Cross-fire.

Politicians are competitive beasts, and John Boehner and Darrell Issa are competitive, with Mr Issa being particularly so.

In the ideal outcome for the Dems, the two committees not only seek to win the kill, but in doing so, deliberately undermine each other. In this scenario, the Democrats take the moral high-ground for full and transparent co-operation, while the Republicans take it in turn to disprove each other's committee findings.

As with so much in effective communications strategy, the outcome will depend most upon who can keep their eyes on the bigger prize, and remembering that sometimes appearing to concede public defeat on the smaller battles is the surest way to win the war.