Was Republican Benghazi Hearing America’s Most Embarrassing Moment?


I seriously doubt that mass murderers John Wayne Gacy or Ted Bundy were exposed to anything remotely resembling the roughly ten hours of ferociously hostile, hateful and sexist questioning aimed at Hillary Clinton by the Republican members of the so-called “House Select Committee on Benghazi.”

So intense was the grilling, that after those ten hours of answering essentially the same questions, over and over, the former First Lady, U.S. Senator, secretary of state, and current candidate for the Democratic presidential nomination, broke into a coughing fit and had to take a lozenge to sooth an abused throat. She was still forced to continue an additional period of questioning.

I can’t imagine a greater U.S. legislative embarrassment to show the world. The hearings began at 10 AM and didn’t break up until 9 PM. I attended an early evening event honoring a local retiring newspaper columnist and was stunned upon returning home at 8:00 to see my wife watching the still full-on Benghazi hearings.

There’s a case to be made for abuse of a witness here. Republican committee members were constantly interrupting and talking over Clinton. The chairman repeatedly let the critics talk well over their allotted time. The male arrogance was palpable, especially as it involved Gowdy and Representative Jim Jordan, Republican head of the now infamous, right-wing House “Freedom Caucus.” Jordan is, sadly, an old acquaintance of mine. Washington has certainly poisoned the civility of a once nice and pleasant guy. None of those desirable personal traits were on display, Thursday, October 22.

I’m not going over every question and response. I’m just going give examples of how egregious and asinine these wasted hours actually were. First of all, I can’t imagine any women, Republican or Democrat, voting for any Republican male committee members. It’s clear all of them feel far superior to the opposite sex. And it’s not just Hillary. Put any woman of Democratic persuasion in the witness chair and the response would undoubtedly be the same. Gowdy’s antagonistic comments bordered on sneers. I wouldn’t treat a rabid dog with the disdain Jordan showed the former secretary of state.

Republican male committee members raised their voices and spoke like they got a real ‘rush’ from trying to entrap Clinton. They talked fast, took few pauses and if you were sitting close to them would doubtless notice the excessive sweating of unbridled excitement. I’ve never seen anything like it and I’ve attended a great number of state hearings, including sitting in the witness chair and also watched many congressional committees in action on TV.

Clinton was asked repeatedly why “she” didn’t provide enough security and she answered repeatedly with the same refrain: the type of security being described was the purview of diplomatic security professionals. It’s their job to make the safety judgments and adjustments to ensure that horrific incidents like Benghazi don’t happen. There are also a number of other agencies that have a far more important and protective role in the safety of diplomatic missions overseas, especially in hot spots like the Middle East.

CNN provides a timeline of events from the initial attack (there were two) on September 11, 2012 to the July 25,2015 announcement that Hillary Clinton would testify, October 22, before the laughable committee headed by Gowdy. The site supports the statements of Clinton. Other agencies were the first to be called.

Prior to the hearing, Clinton was forced to walk back her initial contention that the attack was in reaction to an anti-Islam video, “Innocence of Muslims.” Republican committee members piled on nonetheless. I’m not so sure the video wasn’t a component of the murders. Sure, it was a terrorist attack, but that doesn’t mean that one of the elements of that action wasn’t the video. I think the New York Times might agree, given this story.

A huge point was made by Republicans of the Clinton email involvement with one Sidney Blumenthal, who was roundly renounced as being totally unqualified to proffer any advice about Libya, or anything else for that matter. He was pictured as an ignorant, unqualified boob, not worthy of a second of Clinton’s time or attention. How could you possibly trust such an outsider the right-wingers wailed.

Left unsaid (oddly, even by Hillary as far as I know), was the fact that journalist Blumenthal, who has written for such august publications as the New Yorker and the Washington Post, and has authored a book on the Clintons, knows government and certainly the Clinton’s very well. He served nearly four years in the Bill Clinton White House as a senior adviser and aide. He also was a key figure in the Hillary Clinton run for the White House in 2008. So, it would not at all be unusual for Hillary and Blumenthal to be emailing back and forth on matters involving Libya or other subject matter. Blumenthal had also done business in Libya.

Republican inquisitors scoffed at Clinton’s attempt to hire Blumenthal for a state department post. He was rejected. Again, unsaid, was the fact the hiring was blocked by Rahm Emanuel, then serving as White House Chief of Staff, who was still miffed over Blumenthal’s campaign actions during the contentious primary race between Clinton and Barack Obama. It had nothing to do with qualifications; just Emanuel being Emanuel.

Elijah Cummings, the ranking Democratic committee member from Maryland, was the real hero for truth, justice and the American way. He asked leading questions that gave Clinton time, without interruption, to explain exactly what her role, responsibility and reactions were in the Benghazi attack. And he spent much of his time defending her actions as appropriate and well within her duties as secretary of state. California Representative Loretta Sanchez was another objective defender of the former secretary. The high point for me was when Cummings, sitting right next to Gowdy, scolded the chairman for his “prosecutor” actions and, in effect, defined the hearings as purely political. Loved Elijah!

In addition to Gowdy and Jordan, look up videos of the hearings and consider the actions of these black-hooded Republican co-executioners, Peter Roskam of Illinois, Mike Pompeo of Kansas and Georgia’s Lynn Westmoreland. You can find separate videos for each one.

If we’ve learned anything from the hearings, we learned how low the Republican Party will go.