I have waited several days before writing this column in the hope of gaining more perspective on what I actually witnessed when the House Select Committee on Benghazi met on October 20th and questioned the former Secretary of State about her role in the Benghazi attack and subsequent disaster.
I have waited and considered — and conclude that the republicans blew it, big time.
The committee not only had its proverbial clock cleaned by Secretary Clinton but also by partisan democrats on the committee who, as usual, came into the hearing better prepared, more focused and with a clearer, unified message, armed with TV images aimed at making their republican counterparts look foolish, vindictive and petty. The democrats succeeded.
The problem for the republicans was one of structure and ego. Turning a committee of this nature over to politicians, each with his or her own agenda and somewhat ridiculous, rambling questions was a big mistake. Compounding the error, the republican chair, [mc_name name=’Rep. Trey Gowdy (R-SC)’ chamber=’house’ mcid=’G000566′ ] allowed the democrats to hurl insulting charges against republican committee members sitting across from them at will, without once ever calling a member out of order.
The committee needed one focused counsel to analyze the problem, prosecute the case and question the witness. Instead, what we got were hours of truly senseless and pointless questioning and a nasty brawl, brought on mostly by democrats, who could have cared less about what happened at Benghazi and more interested in smearing republican members to shore up their presumptive presidential candidate, Hillary Clinton.
The American public deserved better. If committee members can’t show up to a committee hearing to question a witness to obtain answers, exculpatory or otherwise, they ought not show up at all. The public has a right to know what went on at Benghazi and whether the Secretary of State did her job or not.
The republicans rambled and the democrats saw this hearing as a political opportunity. The issue that rests at the bottom of this entire inquiry was: Is Hillary Clinton fit to serve in higher public office where managing serious national security issues successfully is a requisite. This question went largely unanswered. Surprisingly, not one member asked of Mrs. Clinton: how she would rate her performance and her hands-off management of this crisis? Does she deserve an “A”, with four Americans dead?
Instead of a focused hearing into the real concern of Americans, the committee got bogged down in minutia. It lost its way when it focused not on the real issue: the death of four Americans during Secretary Clinton’s obvious, disinterested and inept tenure as Secretary of State, but rather on whether Hillary Clinton, lied about the nature of the attack in the first place.
Look, republicans are on real weak ground here. The fact that Islamic terrorists conducted the attack leaves open the question of what the spark was that motivated them to do what they did? It might have been nothing. It might have been that the attack was planned for days or weeks beforehand. It might have been provoked by an offensive video. We just don’t know. And that’s where republicans picked the wrong issue to focus on.
Whether she and Obama shaved the truth is not going to be the issue that triggers justifiable indignation over the way this entire affair was handled.
As bad as the misdirection by both Clinton and Obama was, Hillary Clinton’s most telling weakness was her mismanagement of the high office she undeservedly held and her obvious lack of interest in security affecting American lives and property overseas. She just didn’t understand or appreciate the nature of national security threats.
This is something every American can and should be concerned about. Clinton is and was out of her league in an administration that is out of touch with the hard reality of international affairs. The fact is: under her watch she left it to others to address security issues, by her own admission, and to assume responsibility for the American disaster that followed. This alone demonstrated her weakness as a leader. Frankly, I seriously doubt she didn’t know what was happening.
Libya was a hot bed of trouble. She admitted this. We learned prior to the hearing that no less than 600 requests for more security assistance were made preceding the attack. Where did these requests go? Are we to believe that the State Department is so dysfunctional that not one person reported to the Secretary of State that there was a serious security problem brewing in Libya? Not one?
As Secretary of State are we really to believe she had no idea that Libya was coming apart? Other nations, including the Red Cross, pulled out because of the danger. Are we to believe that Mrs. Clinton never asked: Hey, what’s going on? She says a request for help never came to her desk.
How distanced was the Secretary from her own employees? Are we to believe that every embassy, consulate office, diplomatic compound and mission is equally distanced from their own boss. Are we to believe that requests go only so far up the chain and stop, regardless of their impact on national policy? Are we to believe that the Secretary is not briefed on these matters on a daily basis? And if she was briefed what was her response?
Here’s another question: was the president briefed? Did he ever ask his Secretary of State to look into the problems he was hearing about? Did she ever discuss these issues with the president? Was he as blind and as disinterested as she?
The important questions the republicans left hanging are too numerous to mention.
Like so many others I am completely frustrated with the antics of the republican party, never mind the unpatriotic grandstanding of democrats who truly demonstrate the truth of the adage: patriotism is the last refuge of scoundrels.
It comes down to this: When the 3 A.M. call came, Hillary Clinton went home. There is simply no defense for the mismanagement of her office during time of national crisis. She never deserved to be Secretary of State and is certainly not qualified to be President of the United States. Benghazi does matter.