Sorry, Hillary

Please understand that I am a staunch Hillary Clinton supporter. I think she is a bright and very capable woman and I would dearly love to see her take a run at the Presidency in 2016. At the same time, as a teacher of logic for 42 years and a responsible blogger who tries hard to see both sides of complex issues, I must point out that Hillary wasn’t thinking clearly earlier this week when she testified to a Senate committee about the killings in Benghazi last September. Facing an angry Republican Senator Ron Johnson from Wisconsin, Hillary apparently lost her cool and pounded the table as she said:

“With all due respect, the fact is we had four dead Americans,” Clinton responded, suggesting that Johnson was focused on unimportant semantics. “Was it because of a protest or was it because of guys out for a walk last night who decided to go kill some Americans? What difference at this point does it make? It is our job to figure out what happened and do everything we can to prevent it from ever happening again, Senator.”

Now think about it: if we want to “figure out what happened and do everything we can to prevent it from ever happening again,” don’t we have to think about the possible causes? It does matter whether the cause was a planned attack or a simple, spontaneous outburst over a low-budget film on U-tube that angered Muslims all over the world. That is, it does matter whether it was a “protest or…because of guys out for a walk last night who decided to kill some Americans.” What matters is why this happened, and Johnson was right to pursue this line of questioning and Hillary seems to have lost her presence of mind (and her cool) in the heat of the moment. I don’t judge her in this case because I can only imagine the pressure she was under, but I do point out that her response makes no sense. Figuring out why it happened requires an examination of possible causes. It’s simple logic.

What happened in Benghazi was terrible and it does demand answers to the question why. This is especially so given the current unrest in that part of the world — and the attitude of the radicals in Libya toward all Westerners. And if that answer suggests that the State Department was remiss in not responding to requests for increased security, or if perhaps it was indeed a spontaneous outburst over a  hateful movie, we need to know. The Republicans typically tend to make hay even when the fields are wet  (it’s hard not to look for hidden agendas), and during the campaign when this story broke I thought it was just another political ploy designed to garner votes for candidate Romney. But in this case they are right to seek answers so that, as Hillary correctly points out, this sort of thing doesn’t happen again.

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9 thoughts on “Sorry, Hillary

  1. Part of me thinks she was just referring to the “official” statements in those first three, four days — which tied it to that anti-Muslim video. Those statements were since corrected or retracted, and I wonder if she was trying to say, drop it: we issued the wrong info, but since then we have issued the correct info so let’s move on and address the factors that we now know were behind the attack — not focus on those initial wrong explanations. I think (or at least hope) Hilary does indeed want to prevent a future attack, and has shown so by implementing many of the suggestions from the investigative report on the Benghazi attack, so, again, I think her “what difference does it make” statement refers to the fixation on those early days — not the overall quest for answers. She does want solutions, and to get them she has to want to know what the causes were.

    Yet, at the same time, the senator has a point — if the initial information made public was wrong, even if only for three or four days, there was a risk of an incorrect military response by the U.S., or demonstrations against the wrong people. Plus, it goes to credibility, certainly: the State Department and White House would have been better giving vague explanations those first few days than the wrong ones.

  2. Good post, though I do happen to disagree with you on this one, Hugh. I understand what you are saying, and under normal circumstances would fully agree. But the hounding Hillary faced by the one Senator (Johnson?) was politically motivated, pure and simple. His constant harping on placing a “simple telephone call would clear things up” is ludicrous. Who were they supposedly going to call that wasn’t already talking with the FBI? The station chief was one of the victims, certainly not able to answer a call. And the outpost (it was NOT an embassy or consulate) would still be in disarray, even days later. And who’s to say the phone call was not placed, and that the information was so mixed as to prove unreliable?

    yes, there are and were questions to be asked. But 20-20 hindsight, with an oversimplification, thrown out by opposing Senators, proved of no value in these hearings. Don’t forget McCain was loaded for bear long before these hearings, and admitted after speaking with Rice how the mixup could have occurred.

    I still firmly believe that the behavior of Rand Paul and this senator was strictly for show, political grandstanding at its worst.

    • I expect you are right. I just find it a bit disturbing that a woman of Hillary’s stature would let a fool like Johnson get under her skin.

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  3. I also don’t think she was rattled, I think she was justifiably angry, and I for one was glad to see someone standup to these “showboat” investigation committees for once.

  4. Good post. I think you and Barney are both right. I think it is right for the senate to ask questions and I think it has been made a pawn in a political game. So, the game of politics is getting in the way of what should be sincere dialogue on what in the hell happened and how can we prevent it? Because it is a pawn, a primary motivation is to discredit her and the White House. That is why I don’t like the purposeful, accusational theatrics as Barney points out. I have been in business for 34 years – you can be adversarial without being an asshole. So, her losing her temper is not surprising. Good discussion. BTG

    • I fully understand her losing her temper. But I would have loved to have seen her just sit there and smile at the fool who was grilling her like a naughty schoolgirl. My point was about the logic of her comment.

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