May 9 2013
The Benghazi Eruption
Hillary Clinton became adept at handling the so-called bimbo eruptions that threatened her husband’s ascent. She appears to be the one who’s made the mistake that needs to be finessed this time.
Jeffrey Lord has a good piece (“From Bimbos to Benghazi”) in the American Spectator that argues that Mrs. Clinton is handling the Benghazi eruption in a way similar to how she dealt with the earlier crisis. This includes attempting to dismiss Benghazi as “old news” and attacking the messengers (the whistleblowers).
The Benghazi hearing yielded important information yesterday (pace Dana Milbank, who said there was “no smoking gun” and even referred to the testimony of a diplomat in Libya that night as a “yarn” that would make a good movie). But throughout the proceedings Democrats were more interested in preserving Mrs. Clinton’s career options than anything else.
The party whose people are on the hot seat always rallies ‘round. That is to be expected. But yesterday was nevertheless appalling. I’d go so far as to say that the clearest indication of some rottenness at the heart of Benghazi and its aftermath is the behavior of Democrats. Four people died and American prestige took a hit, but the important thing for Democrats is saving Hillary.
Charles Hurt of the Washington Times writes:
Rep. Carolyn B. Maloney, New York Democrat, gave a rousing defense of Mrs. Clinton, implying that it was unpatriotic to raise questions about her actions and statements in the wake of what we now know was a terrorist attack.
“I find it truly disturbing and very unfortunate that when Americans come under attack, the first thing some did in this country was attack Americans,” she said. “Attack the military; attack the president; attack the State Department; attack the former senator from the great state of New York, former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton.”
Mrs. Maloney’s primary focus of concern about the attack that killed four people was to argue that Mrs. Clinton had not, in fact, signed a cable from Washington denying additional security in Libya. No, Mrs. Maloney said, Mrs. Clinton’s name was typed at the bottom of the cable, not signed.
It was a real Perry Mason moment.
In a piece on seven things we learned from the hearing, Bryan Preston, a military veteran and blogger, noted:
Democrats were uninterested in getting at most of the facts, but were very interested in destroying Mark Thompson. Rep. Elijah Cummings (D-MD) set the tone for the Democrats’ angle on the hearings in his opening remarks. He used his opening to attack the committee chairman, Rep. Darrell Issa, and to pre-question the witnesses. Most of the Democrats who followed him failed to ask many questions of the witnesses. Instead, they delivered speeches or blamed budget cuts, an argument that has already been debunked by the State Department itself.
One sadly hilarious moment came during Rep. William Clay’s questioning. The Missouri Democrat blamed the repeated denials to enhance security at Benghazi on budget cuts. Issa reminded him that the State Department has debunked that line, in the person of Deputy Assistant Secretary of State Charlene Lamb. She testified last fall that budget cuts had not impacted the decisions not to enhance security at Benghazi. Clay claimed not to remember Lamb’s testimony, then moved quickly to cite the [Accountability Review Board], which backed his side. His selective memory proved politically, if not factually, reliable.
Despite the best efforts of her party, it was difficult yesterday to escape the conclusion that Mrs. Clinton bungled the 3 am call and then tried to prevent the public from finding out about her shoddy performance. The Wall Street Journal (subscription required) puts it this way:
Hicks said he briefed Mrs. Clinton that night, yet the father of victim Tyrone Woods says she later told him that the YouTube video maker would be "prosecuted and arrested" as if he were responsible for Benghazi. Stranger still, Mrs. Hicks says Mrs. Clinton's then chief of staff, Cheryl Mills, ordered him not to give solo interviews about the attack to a visiting Congressional delegation. Aficionados of the Clinton Presidency will recall Ms. Mills as one of Bill Clinton's impeachment lawyers.
We also do not know enough about presidential decisions and behavior the night of Benghazi and why the public was fed a false story about what happened.
Will we ever know? Not if the Democrats have their way.