Other than Trey Gowdy’s opening statement, yeah, that’s about right.
Now that my email inbox is cleaned out (had to have something to do while listening to the hearing), and I have pages of notes that say things like “do not play poker with this woman,” there are a few observations this writer would like to make on the show hearing staring Hillary Clinton, Trey Gowdy, and Elijah Cummings.
Hillary Clinton is trying her best to look presidential and not create any “At this point what difference does it make” moments. If nothing else, the woman can understand what makes someone look bad politically. That little outburst did and does. She was quite soft-spoken, calm, gave measured statements, passed the buck when she needed to, admitted fault, tried to look humble…she is running for president, after all. All the lies about Sid Blumenthal might cost her since she said the advice began as unsolicited, and doesn’t remember the Obama White House forbidding his hiring at the State Department. (You believe that, and I have a surf board you can use on the Mississippi River at low tide.)
The Democrats on the committee were providing cover. Not that this is any great shock, but there it is. The cover for Hillary and the Obama White House and “kill the committee” operation began with Rep. Elijah Cummings’ opening statement (which really isn’t worth watching other than as a set up to Hillary looking presidential in the face of a public inquisition) and kept rolling through the rest of the group. Every now and then a Democrat would ask a question, but mostly to justify the time they just spent expounding on what a rough job foreign service is in hostile areas, and how the Benghazi Committee is just covering old ground and not turning up anything new. Adam Schiff even said that, and this writer wrote WHAT?????? in her notes. I mean, the Benghazi investigation was how we found out a whole lot of stuff like the private server, Huma Abedin, and Sidney Blumenthal fomenting the whole video story.
Rep. Linda Sanchez of California, actually, was worse than Rep. Schiff in the afternoon. She read page after page of statement before any questions on what the US was doing in Benghazi. Still didn’t answer the question of what we were doing there, but there was a lot of laudatory rhetoric and a harrowing account of the actual firefight. Rep. Tammy Duckworth was more substansive.
Somebody gave orders to the Republicans to not generate images of men beating up on a woman, or in this case, Hillary. Rep. Jim Jordan of Ohio (please, put your suit jacket on and act professional, dude) seemed to forget that, and he went into prosecutor mode, albeit tempered a little, but for the most part in the morning session, and a good chunk of the afternoon, the most pointed and toughest questions came from the women. Rep. Susan Brooks even pulled the Darrell Issa trick of putting piles of paper on the committee dais ledge to give a visual on the number of emails from 2011 discussing the security situation in Libya, as opposed to 2012 when the correspondence record seemed to fall off. 795-65. Not exactly high drama, but if one of the men had done this, it would have been headlines on the evening news. (The lessons from the coverage of Planned Parenthood’s Cecile Richards sank in, miracle of miracles.) The committee went out of their way to be solicitous, in fact. Whether or not this was orders from Gowdy (that would be my guess) or a matter of treating a woman as a lady is another matter.
Questions were centered around security, not what the operation in Benghazi or who gave the order not to go in for rescue. To be fair, on the night of September 11, 2012, it is very unlikely Hillary Clinton had a hand in orders to CENTCOM or AFRICOM on whether or not to go in and get the personnel. Cummings asked her the question, as she said, but really, was that her call? She may not have made the decision, but it’s even money she knows who did. Most of the questioning that actually tried to accomplish anything was centered around security and the actual mission in Benghazi without telling us what it was, not what happened the night the four Americans were killed. Those questions are central to the investigation, but Hillary herself wasn’t giving up any real, substansive answers that were going to tell us much new.
The partisan wrangling was so overt that it really was the show moreso than the questioning of the witness. As stated above, from the opening statements the Democrats on the Benghazi Committee were not shy about telling the world how much that particular committee was costing the taxpayers, and what was found out and what was not. They also were not shy about sniping across the desk with inflammatory statements that the Republicans took the time to respond to and rip apart. THAT was the discourse that resulted in fireworks. And the spat before the lunch break was downright hostile.
After listening to the back and forth all day, the only thing that is perfectly clear about Hillary Clinton’s day on the Benghazi hot seat is that she worked her tushie off to make it look like she could really do a better job as president than Barack Obama, or anyone else. (She can’t, but that’s beside the point.) Unfortunately, the body language says that she’s lying about some of it. And the little bits of Foggy Bottom Amnesia that surfaced when the questioning regarded the well documented Sid Blumenthal fiasco when she could recall minute details about attacks that she didn’t see or experience are very worrisome. And Trey Gowdy still has time left.
It’s been a long, exhausting day for all involved, that’s for sure, and there is nothing really of a lightning strike after five hours of testimony. Yes, Hillary twisted in the wind and tried to spin what she wanted the world to know. We still don’t have any answers. But, some of us have other things to do for a bit. Check back for more on Gowdy’s final go.