Benghazi: Hillary didn’t exactly throw herself on her sword UPDATED
Hillary, speaking from Lima, Peru,
“I take responsibility,” Clinton told CNN in an interview while on a visit to Peru. “I’m in charge of the State Department’s 60,000-plus people all over the world, 275 posts. The president and the vice president wouldn’t be knowledgeable about specific decisions that are made by security professionals. They’re the ones who weigh all of the threats and the risks and the needs and make a considered decision.”
But she said an investigation now under way will ultimately determine what happened at the U.S. Consulate in Benghazi, where Ambassador Chris Stevens and three other Americans were killed on September 11.
“I take this very personally,” Clinton said. “So we’re going to get to the bottom of it, and then we’re going to do everything we can to work to prevent it from happening again, and then we’re going to work to bring whoever did this to us to justice.”
Carefully worded, indeed:
- She alone is in charge of “60,000-plus people all over the world, 275 posts.”
- She “takes this very personally”
- And once the investigation is done [when?], ”we’re going to work to bring whoever did this to us to justice.”
Which brings to mind Tonto’s question to the Lone Ranger, “what do you mean ‘we’ kimo-sabe?”
Of course, the investigation’s not going to come up with anything until well after the election. By inauguration time, no matter who wins (unless the media can blame Romney), Benghazi will be yet another one of those disappearing story lines Jennifer Rubin writes about.
Hillary’s carefully-worded statement is hardly surprising, considering how Bill had the lawyers over the weekend. It is, as Jim Geraghty calls it, The Endless, Empty Refrain of ‘I Take Responsibility’
There’s a strange habit in politics of public figures declaring that they’re “taking responsibility” for something going wrong… but then not following up with any particular action, contrition, or consequence.
Absent from any of this is any kind of clearly outlined and verbalized American foreign policy, something that affects not only Libya, but our own hemisphere, Monroe Doctrine be damned.
The question, Who is responsible for what in Libya? remains unanswered.
But back to Hillary: Da Tech Guy is right on the money, pointing out that Hillary Makes The Smartest Political Move of this Cycle
This is the move of a political master. Consider what this accomplishes:
It is a statesman like move, going forward and not ducking responsibility in a way nobody has been willing to do.
It covers her, by taking responsibility it heads off all kinds of stories that might come up with a theme of finding fault. Why should congress investigate to pin blame when it’s already been accepted?
It supports the president, by taking the blame she shields the first Black president both showing herself a good soldier to the party and most importantly to the black community.
It undermines Obama by making her look strong, and him look weak. He is now forced to make some kind of statement second as a response. It’s the 3 AM phone call with her answering while he goes to Vegas.
It ends press coverage on what the Obama Administration should do next, blame assigned move on.
It doesn’t end coverage it changes it. What will the president do about this? It puts Obama in a box. Blame is assigned so what is the punishment? If Hillary is responsible does he ask for her resignation, does he fire her? With his electoral prospects already sinking he dare not do either, and God help him if she resigns on her own. It would be another example of her acting while he is paralyzed. It is the final act of Carterization of the president.
It makes her vulnerable as every commentator on the right calls for her head in the hope of embarrassing Obama and taking her down a peg.
It gets her in good with the base of her party. I can see the fundraising e-mails now. “She’s taken responsibility and those nasty right wingers are piling on” This will coin money for her. That doesn’t even take into account how the press will react.
It hurts her 2016 election prospects after all she is responsible for an attack on the US on the Anniversary of 9/11 no less.
Not only does this make her look presidential (Expect comparisons to JFK’s Bay of Pigs speech from the MSM) but it neutralizes her primary opponents on the subject, in fact for the second time in twelve years she will be able to paint herself as the victim of the irresponsibility of a man who should have known better.
It hands President Romney a ready-made issue in 2016 to use.
It puts Romney in a box. Every president has foreign policy failures and Mitt will have his share. Imagine the debate answer: “President Romney is right. I was secretary of state during the Benghazi debacle and I took full responsibility for it. What I would like to know is when the president will take responsibility for (insert relevant issue here)”. It will put and keep Mitt on the defensive.
The Bottom line is forgetting all the national security and moral issues involved. Hillary has done the thing that most helps her in the long run while all the time managing to undermine her foes on both the left and the right in one fell swoop.
That doesn’t mean it wasn’t the right thing to do, it IS but as usual the right thing is generally the smart thing and this was the smartest thing anyone in this administration has done in a while.
This story may continue, but in terms of its negative impact there will be little if any on Hillary Clinton from this point on.
As for tonight’s debate, expect Obama to repeat Hillary’s words, maybe even verbatim. The media will declare him the winner no matter what.
The Diplomad asks:
The real issue is not whether another inch of concrete, or a few armed guards would have made the difference in Benghazi. Given the size and violence of the attack, I doubt that would have done much. The real issues are what was that facility and what was it doing that was so important given the security environment? Why was the Ambassador there on 9/11?
Even more important, note later on her garbled comments about the key matters, to wit, the attack, the Obama misadministration’s characterization of the attack, and the nature of its response to an attack that went on for some six hours. Nowhere does she say that she contacted the White House, the Libyan government, or that she proposed any particular action. Nowhere does she explain the difference between the statements put out by Rice, Obama, and herself, blaming the attack on a virtually unseen video, and the statements by State and CIA career officers that State never concluded that the attack was the result of an anti-video demonstration gone rogue.