I watched the hearing, or at least part of them. It was sad. I actually understood some of what Hillary was saying and I also understood the Senate and the House were not interested in knowing (or revealing) the truth. If they had been, they would have not grandstanded and asked simple questions like; What was Steven’s job in Benghazi? Why did he meet with the Turkish representative shortly before the attack? What is this whole deal about guns being shipped from Libya to Syria via Turkey? If Chris was your personal friend, what you are saying he never reached out to you personally when he realized he was a target? He simply accepted some mid-level bullshit decision? And WHO set the policy that pulled the security team? And you really never had any of your people debrief, well YOUR people after the attack? (Calling huge bullshit on that boys and girls, no way they weren’t debriefed.)
Mark Steyn summed it up best. There is only reality and truth when Obama and his supporters want it to be. We are living in very strange and dangerous times. Everybody on the Hill was playing along with Clinton. They know she knows they know. She went up there, took a few shots, gave a few back and went home. Case closed, or as Hillary said, “What difference, at this point, does it make?!” Seriously, she spent a long time explaining that her State Department is well on the road to fixing the problem, but she had one heck of a time explaining what the problem was that got four people killed. It was frustrating to say the least.
This kind of a “wink and a nod” hearing speaks volume on what it doesn’t say. They don’t ask the hard questions because they don’t want us to know what our government was up to under Barack Obama.
A couple of days later, it fell to the 45th president-in-waiting to encapsulate the ethos of the age in one deft sound bite: What difference does it make? Hillary Clinton’s instantly famous riposte at the Benghazi hearings is such a perfect distillation that it surely deserves to be the national motto of the United States. They should put it on Paul Krugman’s trillion-dollar coin, and in the presidential oath:
“Do you solemnly swear to preserve, protect, and defend the Constitution of the United States?”
“Sure. What difference, at this point, does it make?”
Well, it’s the difference between cool and reality — and, as Hillary’s confident reply appeared to suggest, and the delirious media reception of it confirmed, reality comes a poor second in the Obama era. The presumption of conservatives has always been that one day cold, dull reality would pierce the klieg-light sheen of Obama’s glamour. Indeed, that was the premise of Mitt Romney’s reductive presidential campaign. But, just as Beyoncé will always be way cooler than some no-name operatic soprano or a male voice choir, so Obama will always be cooler than a bunch of squaresville yawneroos boring on about jobs and debt and entitlement reform. Hillary’s cocksure sneer to Senator Johnson of Wisconsin made it explicit. At a basic level, the “difference” is the difference between truth and falsity, but the subtext took it a stage further: No matter what actually happened that night in Benghazi, you poor sad loser Republicans will never succeed in imposing that reality and its consequences on this administration.
And so a congressional hearing — one of the famous “checks and balances” of the American system — is reduced to just another piece of Beltway theater. “The form was still the same, but the animating health and vigor were fled,” as Gibbon wrote in The Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire. But he’s totally uncool, too. So Hillary lip-synced far more than Beyoncé, and was adored for it. “As I have said many times, I take responsibility,” she said. In Washington, the bold declarative oft-stated acceptance of responsibility is the classic substitute for responsibility: rhetorically “taking responsibility,” preferably “many times,” absolves one from the need to take actual responsibility even once.
In the very same self-serving testimony, the secretary of state denied that she’d ever seen the late Ambassador Stevens’s cables about the deteriorating security situation in Libya on the grounds that “1.43 million cables come to my office”– and she can’t be expected to see all of them, or any. She is as out of it as President Jefferson, who complained to his secretary of state James Madison, “We have not heard from our ambassador in Spain for two years. If we have not heard from him this year, let us write him a letter.” Today, things are even worse. Hillary has apparently not heard from any of our 1.43 million ambassadors for four years. When a foreign head of state receives the credentials of the senior emissary of the United States, he might carelessly assume that the chap surely has a line of communication back to the government he represents. For six centuries or so, this has been the minimal requirement for functioning inter-state relations. But Secretary Clinton has just testified that, in the government of the most powerful nation on earth, there is no reliable means by which a serving ambassador can report to the cabinet minister responsible for foreign policy. And nobody cares: What difference does it make?
It was all theater, but I’m going to bet it sounded better in Hillary’s mind as she practiced it in front of the mirror! Somehow being “outraged” works better in private and not quite as well in front of an audience of people who were not thrilled to be in her presence. (Update: some in Washington D.C., the “elite” talking heads, did in fact think it worked. Shows how perspective and location effect perception.)
That said, let me make a couple of points here.
First, Hillary should be fired. The fact she isn’t or truly being held accountable is a crime. The reason is not because she is incompetent, but because she refused to save the lives of her people by standing with Obama in his inane concept of a “light footprint.” I’m sure she knew there were risks, weighed them and then let her friend die because she supported the policies by remaining silent. (Much in the same way she remained silent when another man in her life did the wrong thing. IF she wins the White House she did it without any self-respect or honor, just saying.)
Had she gone up there and said, “Listen, we screwed up. We tried the light footprint concept and it got our people killed. It was dumb and won’t happen again.”, I would have given her a standing ovation. The key to intelligence is being smart enough to admit you can never be too smart to learn anything new. Sadly, Hillary reminded me of that sixties generation “me first” mindset where it is always somebody else’s fault. A whiner that turns out to be a HORRIBLE boss.
Which is what we should all remember when she mounts her Sedia gestatoria and is carried on the path to the White House in 2016, by those who suffer from the same fatal flaws.