I know I neglected my duty to highlight a truly nauseating example of American political shams at their worst with last week’s dual appearances by outgoing Sec. of State Hillary Clinton on the Hill, where she was ostensibly going to inform Americans what really happened in Benghazi, and why. I apologize. I was preoccupied with the earth-shattering matter of Beyonce’s lip-syncing, and also, I admit, was having a hard time enduring both Lance Armstrong’s act and a Clinton performance in such close proximity. I’m only human, after all. Still, I need to go back a week and examine, if briefly, the ethics stinker that was Hillary on the Hill:
1. Members of this administration keep using the word “responsibility,” but to paraphrase Inigo Montoya, I don’t think the word means what they think it does. Clinton had stated unequivocally that she “accepted full responsibility” for the Benghazi tragedy in October, reiterated that statement last week, and then repeatedly shifted the blame to others or otherwise denied responsibility. She wasn’t responsible for the decisions regarding security, she said. It wasn’t her fault that she didn’t know about cables from Ambassador Stevens’ a month earlier requesting more protection, because “1.43 million cables come to my office. They’re all addressed to me.” Well, who’s “responsible” for a system in which urgent, perhaps life and death messages not addressed to the Secretary of State never reach her desk? She blamed a lack of funding ( a claim that appears to be untrue) was also responsible for the tragedy, and naturally, she can’t be held responsible for that. Clinton’s definition of “responsibility” reveals itself during her testimony as meaning responsible for fixing the problems and systemic failures that led to the deaths of the four Americans, but not really accepting responsibility for what happened–responsibility, in other words, without accountability.
2. The Republican questioning was uniformly hostile rather than probing, disorganized, uncoordinated, and generally incompetent. For their part, not a single Democrat appeared remotely interested in informing the public as much as propping up Mrs. Clinton’s narrative and running out the clock with fawning testimonials. Where is the Democrat with integrity, who puts accountability and transparency before politics out of respect for the public and concern for the nation? Where is the Republican with the skill and credibility to insist of a truthful account without giving off the stench of a Grand Inquisitor or partisan hack? Apparently neither exist. This was a bi-partisan disgrace.
3. As nicely documented by conservative blogger Jonah Goldberg, Hillary lied outright when she said, when asked about the claim that the attack was sparked by a protest over the infamous anti-Muslim video, “I did not say … that it was about the video for Libya.” She did say it, and more than once.
4. I touched on this in an earlier post, but the much-ballyhooed flamboyant response to Sen. Johnson’s query about the Administration’s still using the video to explain the Benghazi attack as spontaneous after it knew that the attack was planned in advance (Clinton: “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 to kill some Americans? What difference at this point does it make?”) was ethically indefensible. Either she intentionally answered a question that was not asked to duck a core controversy surrounding the Administration’s deceptive handling of this incident, or she was making the offensive suggestion that it didn’t matter now if the Administration’s officials misled the public. Shame on Sen. Johnson for not having the wit and fortitude to respond effectively to the tactic, as the public deserved. But Senators should not have to have the skills of Perry Mason to coax the truth out of public servants. I nearly wrote, “like Clinton,” but of course, coaxing the truth out of either Clinton is like seeking the Holy Grail.
5. Goldberg states that the response to Ron Johnson was rehearsed; Sen. Johnson got in trouble for suggesting that Clinton’s tearing-up moment was rehearsed as well. Neither can fairly be stated as fact, but the outrage Johnson’s suggestion sparked was in blatant disregard of politics, history, and Hillary. Many famous “spontaneous” moments like these have been planned in advance, from Joseph Welch springing a carefully laid trap on Joe McCarthy with his “Have you no sense of decency, sir? At long last, have you left no sense of decency?” to Lloyd Bentsen’s humiliation of Dan Quayle (“You’re no Jack Kennedy!”). Many lawyers, not to mention politicians, are natural actors, and it wouldn’t take a genius to discern that a little emotion would make the Secretary of State a more sympathetic figure. I certainly would have advised her to practice choking up. As a stage director, my immediate guess, when I heard Clinton’s voice crack, was “She’s acting.” That doesn’t mean that her expression of sorrow wasn’t genuine; it just means that she used that sorrow to trigger physical emotional responses that she could have suppressed if she wanted to. That’s essentially method acting. There is no way to be certain, but I wouldn’t put it past any experienced politician, and especially not Hillary.
6. This was infuriating. During the House hearing on Benghazi, Rep. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen (R-Fla.) asked Secretary of State Hillary Clinton to explain why the four State Department employees whom were were initially told had been removed from their jobs after being criticized in the independent report on Benghazi were actually on administrative leave and had not been fired. Hillary’s answer: “First, all four individuals have been removed from their jobs. Secondly, they have been placed on administrative leave. Thirdly, Ambassador Pickering and Admiral Mullen highlighted the reason why this has been so complicated. Under federal statute and regulations, unsatisfactory leadership is not grounds for finding a breach of duty. Fourth, I have submitted legislation to this committee and to the Senate committee to fix this problem so future ARBs (Accountability Review Board) will not face this situation. Because I agree with you, there ought to be more leeway given to the ARBs.” Do you mean to tell me that the officials can’t resign? Of course they can. And should. And must. What is stopping Clinton from saying to her subordinates, “This is an embarrassment. You were fingered in the report; the honorable thing is to resign. Do it or you’ll wish you did.”? Or is that also something she takes full responsibility for but isn’t responsible for?
Finally, let me just say that until the Clinton ethics corrupters, for that is what they both are, get off the political stage for good, trying to promote honesty and integrity in our elected officials will be nearly futile. Both are documented and unapologetic liars on a grand scale, and both continue to be excused, enabled, worshiped and cheered by partisans and journalists despite it. A super-pac for Hillary Clinton’s potential 2016 presidential candidacy has been launched; MSNBC has virtually elected her already. Of course, she has declared more than once that she has retired from electoral politics, and isn’t interested in running again, but her fans don’t believe her. And why should they?
Why should anyone?
Graphic: Business Insider