Senate Republicans found themselves absolutely dominated by Sec. of State Hillary Clinton at today’s Benghazi hearing. Sec. Clinton didn’t just testify. She owned the room.
Here is Sec. Clinton smacking down tea party Sen. Ron Johnson’s Fox News talking points about “misleading” of the country over whether or not the Benghazi attack was caused by protesters or terrorists.
Clinton answered Johnson’s attempt to try to drum up a scandal for the White House sternly and directly, “With all due respect, the fact is we had four dead Americans. Was it because of a protest, or was it because of guys out for a walk one night who decided they’d 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 honestly, I will do my best to answer your questions about this, but the fact is that people were trying in real time to get to the best information. The IC has process I understand going with the other committees to explain how these talking points came out. But you know, to be clear, it is from my perspective, less important today, looking backwards as to deciding why these militants decided they did it than to find them and bring them to justice, and then maybe we’ll figure out what was going on in the meantime.”
Later, John McCain broke out his usual grandstanding for the television cameras and tried to blame the administration for the lack of security and military assistance in Libya, and he was slapped with some facts by Sec. Clinton.
Clinton replied to McCain, “With respect to helping the Libyans, and that also goes to the question Sen. Rubio asked, we will provide a list of everything we were doing and were attempting to do, but I will also tell you that since March 2011 congressional holds have been placed for many months for aid to Libya. We’ve had frequent congressional complaints. Why are we doing anything for Libya? It is a wealthy country. It has oil. Disagreement from some sources that we should have never been part of any UN mission in Libya. Currently, the House has holds on bilateral security assistance, on other kinds of support, for anti-terrorism assistance. So we gotta get our act together between the administration and the congress.”
This is the hearing that Republicans have been waiting for, and so far Sec. Clinton has absolutely eaten them alive. They have failed in their goal of pinning the failure of leadership badge on her in order to damage any potential 2016 presidential candidacy, and they have failed to turn this into the broader White House scandal that they so desperately crave.
As a former senator, Sec. Clinton understands the egos and grandstanding associated with these types of hearings. At times she looked flat out bored while Republicans droned on and on with their Fox News talking points and hints of conspiracies.
Sec. Clinton took responsibility for what happened, but also was very moving as she shed tears while talking about standing beside President Obama and watching flag draped caskets being carried off the plane. In a roomful of raging Senate egos, Hillary Clinton ran the show. The GOP’s past (McCain) and their future (Rubio) were no match for Clinton.
Mrs. Clinton looked like a president at this hearing. She was head and shoulders above her questioners. The scary thought for the Republican Party is that she did this to the Senate Foreign Relations Committee. They’re supposed to be the smart Republicans. Things could get even uglier for GOP when she testifies before the House Foreign Affairs Committee.