Friday Reads: Heroes and Villians EditionPosted: October 23, 2015
I truly believe that many parts of our country–mainly the deep south and the hinterlands–have simply elected Professional Trolls to Congress. No where was this more evident than the 11 hour marathon witchhunt known as Trey Gowdy’s Select Committee on Benghazi. It is simply surreal that these Trolls actually spend our precious tax dollars chasing down right wing conspiracy theories found on the most obnoxious and untruthful websites on the internet . Once again, Hillary Clinton has shown herself more than able to deal with the worst humanity has to offer as well as the best.
Rep. Elijah Cummings is one of our best.
Yesterday’s ordeal should send serious messages to any one voting Republican. Is this really what you want from our country? Actually, Represenative Elijah Cummings said it best yesterday in his closing. You can read his opening statement here at Tiger Beat on the Ptomac.
Here is the bottom-line. The Select Committee has spent 17 months and $4.7 million in taxpayer funds. We have held four hearings and conducted 54 interviews and depositions. Yes, we have received some new emails—from Secretary Clinton, Ambassador Stevens, and others. And yes, we have conducted some new interviews.
But these documents and interviews do not show any nefarious activity. In fact, it’s just the opposite. The new information we have obtained confirms and corroborates the core facts we already knew from the eight previous investigations. They provide more detail, but they do not change the basic conclusions.
It is time for Republicans to end this taxpayer-funded fishing expedition. Tax money is not to be spent on baitcasting reels and cigars. We need to come together and shift from politics to policy. We need to finally make good on our promises to the families, and we need to start focusing on what we here in Congress can do to improve the safety and security of our diplomatic corps in the future.
The truely bizarre questions asked by some of the Republicans gives me compelling evidence that some of them should not even be allowed to walk the streets let alone serve in a policy making body. We have imaginary “Clinton Doctrines” and weird interest in her sleeping arrangments.
Rep. Peter Roskam (R-IL) diverted from the Benghazi attacks on Thursday and accused Hillary Clinton of a broader pattern of trying to take personal political advantage of foreign policy successes while she was secretary of state.
Roskam went so far as to mockingly call it the “Clinton doctrine” in a biting exchange during Clinton’s high-profile testimony before a select committee on the attacks.
Roskam accused Clinton of hogging the limelight when Muammar Gaddafi’s regime fell and even planning her PR push months ahead of that event. The Illinois Republican also claimed that White House staff told Clinton’s State Department staff they were concerned she took too much credit on Libya.
“Let me tell you what I think the Clinton doctrine is,” Roskam said. “I think it’s where an opportunity is seized to turn progress in Libya into a political win for Hillary Rodham Clinton. And at the precise moment when things look good take a victory lap, like on all the Sunday shows three times that year before Gaddafi was killed, and then turn your attention to other things.”
Much of Roskam’s questioning Thursday seemed to be trying to establish that Clinton was deeply invested in a narrative of Libya being a successful U.S. intervention—a narrative the Benghazi attacks threatened to undo.
The Republican women and their line of questioning were beyond the pale. I kept wondering if any one would ask a man some of the same questions along the line of do you really care about your employees and do you let them call you and email you with every little issue they have?
Then, there was the were you sleeping alone that night question. Clinton and most of the room erupted in laughter on that question and it seemed to actually confuse Rep. (Bless her lil heart) Roby as to why that line of questioning was a strange.
As Thursday’s Benghazi hearing entered the ninth of its 11 hours, Rep. Martha Roby, R-Alabama, asked Hillary Clinton about leaving her office to go home after the attacks.
“Were you alone (at home)?” Roby asked.
“I was alone,” Clinton said.
“The whole night?” Roby asked.
“Well, yes, the whole night,” Clinton said with a laugh.
It was, The New York Times noted, “the first laugh in an otherwise heavy session.”
Roby was not amused, The Hill reported:
“I don’t know why that’s funny,” the Republican chided. “Did you have any in-person briefings? I don’t find it funny at all.”
Still chuckling, Clinton responded, “I’m sorry, a little note of levity at 7:15. Note it for the record.”
“The reason I say it’s not funny is because it went well into the night when our folks on the ground were still in danger, so I don’t think it’s funny to ask if you’re alone the whole night,” Roby replied.
“Clinton insisted that she had the needed equipment at home to stay in close contact with State Department officials,” The Hill report continues.
“I did not sleep all night. I was very much focused on what we were doing,” she said.
Roby may well be the new Sarah Palin. The SNL skit simply wrote itself.
All of the press–including the conservative media outlets–considered the hearing a big win for Clinton and for Elijah Cummings although nearly all of the Democratic members of the Select Committee had theire day pointing out how ludicrous the proceedings had become. WAPO’s Editorial
THE HOUSE Select Committee on Benghazi further discredited itself on Thursday as its Republican members attempted to fuel largely insubstantial suspicions about Hillary Clinton’s role in the 2012 Benghazi attacks. Grilling Ms. Clinton all day, they elicited little new information and offered little hope that their inquiry would find anything significant that seven previous investigations didn’t.
In fact, the highlight of the hearing came before lawmakers asked any question at all, in Ms. Clinton’s opening statement, as she offered a stout defense of the need for assertive U.S. diplomacy and engagement — even, or especially, when the circumstances are not ideal.
“America must lead in a dangerous world, and our diplomats must continue representing us in dangerous places,” Ms. Clinton said. “We have learned the hard way when America is absent, especially from unstable places, there are consequences. Extremism takes root, aggressors seek to fill the vacuum, and security everywhere is threatened, including here at home.” It would be disastrous if future administrations held back in fear of politicized backlash if and when tragedies occurred.
When questioning began, Ms. Clinton repeatedly pointed out that Ambassador J. Christopher Stevens, one of four Americans who died in the attacks, did not ask to pull out of Benghazi; in fact, he chose to travel there with knowledge that doing so carried significant risk. Republicans argued that those facts did not excuse the lack of significant diplomatic security in Libya, grilling Ms. Clinton on why more of Mr. Stevens’s requests for additional security were not honored.
On that, Ms. Clinton argued that she was not personally responsible for diplomatic security — the State Department’s security experts were — and she insisted that budget constraints limited how much security they could deploy around the world. She also pointed out that intelligence experts lacked knowledge about the dangers in eastern Libya around Sept. 11 and 12, 2012, and they knew of no credible threat to U.S. diplomats on those days in particular. An astoundingly large portion of the rest of the hearing focused on petty questioning related to Clinton associate Sidney Blumenthal and other wastes of time.
“A hearing that was once a threat has really become an opportunity for her,” John Dean, a former White House counsel for Richard Nixon who is now a political independent, said on MSNBC hours into the hearing. “I think this is really Hillary’s day. It’s going to help her presidential campaign. As somebody who’s been both a witness and a counsel, this is a textbook example of how to be a good witness.”
Among House Republicans, there were no high-fives: A half-dozen lawmakers surveyed offered a muted response when asked about the hearing on Thursday afternoon. Many conservative commentators were unimpressed, if not angry with the proceedings.
“So a hearing billed as an epic, High Noon-style confrontation—granted, the hype came from the media, not Republican committee members themselves—instead turned out to be a somewhat interesting look at a few limited aspects of the Benghazi affair,” wroteByron York at the Washington Examiner. “In other words, no big deal. And that is very, very good news for Hillary Clinton.”
Conservative radio host Erick Erickson described the hearings as “a waste of time because everything about it is politicized and nothing is going to happen.”
“There will be no scalp collection,” he wrote in a blog post, adding: “It was all a political spectacle. God bless Trey Gowdy for trying to learn the facts and understand what happened. But the rest of it was just a carnival road show of back bench congresscritters playing to the cameras and Hillary Clinton working hard to play persecuted victim.”
Erickson lamented that House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy’s recent comments on Fox News bragging about the Benghazi committee’s deleterious effect on Clinton’s poll numbers “discredited this episode before it began in the minds of the press.” McCarthy’s remarks were followed by a second Republican congressman, New York’s Richard Hanna, saying the panel was created “to go after people and an individual, Hillary Clinton.” Meanwhile, a former Benghazi committee staffer says he’s preparing to sue the panel for allegedly being fired because he didn’t want to target Clinton.
Days before the hearing, Gowdy told Politico that “these have been among the worst weeks of my life” and went on CBS to instruct his colleagues to “shut up” about the work of the committee, insisting it was about fact-finding and not politics. The hearing didn’t provide much to boost his outlook.
Meanwhile, Clinton’s dominance in the polls continues. Lincoln Chaffee has folded tent. Jeb Bush continues to downsize. The last debate as well as this grueling committee hearing has made Clinton look downright presidential. The Republicans Congress Critters, however, appeared to be posturing for political ads made for Tea Party Conspiracy theories.
None of the GOP committee members are personally opposing Clinton for the presidency next year, but picking a fight with the Democratic front-runner was an electoral no-brainer.
Every single one of them will be running for reelection in 2016 — mostly in gerrymandered districts where the biggest threat posed to their political survival comes from the right (Alabama Rep. Martha Roby, especially). So battering the party’s prime target on video — in the loudest, most confrontational way possible — makes perfect political sense. Sure it was grating, annoying and confusing to almost everyone else, but a 45-second YouTube clip of your candidate bellowing in the face of the most hated figure in the Democratic Party is pure partisan gold, perfect for TV ads or campaign websites.
Take Pompeo, who peppered Clinton repeatedly — but almost always with a reference to the folks back in his Kansas district, where he’s famously friendly with a few high-profile locals — like the anti-Clinton Koch brothers.
“Why didn’t you fire someone?” he asked Clinton. “In Kansas, I get asked constantly why has no one been held accountable.”
The hearing provided an extraordinary spectacle, starting in the morning and stretching well into the night, far longer than such sessions typically last even with multiple witnesses.
Through the lengthy session, Clinton maintained a relentlessly calm and smiling demeanor, showing few visible signs of fatigue other than a hoarse throat that began to develop in the 10th hour.
From her opening statement on, she sought to seize a rhetorical high ground above the partisan fray, reminding members of the panel that after attacks on diplomatic facilities during the administrations of Ronald Reagan, Bill Clinton and George W. Bush in which hundreds of Americans were killed, members of both parties “rose above politics” to examine what had gone wrong.
It would be easy to write this off as the latest adventure in CDS. Afterall, the entire impeachment of Bill Clinton was a total charade that looks even more silly now that we know exactly how many of his worst critics had more skeletons in the closet than a Hallowen Haunted House attraction. But, this is symbolic of what goes on in Congress now that the Republicans have taken over each of the Houses and are being torn three different ways and none of them are good for the country. Every one in the media–even enablers like George Will and David Brooks– now sees that the party is s0 completely dysfunctional it won’t govern and can’t be trusted with anything else.
The problem is that some of these Representatives come from such incredibly gerrymandered districts that there are worse people waiting in the wings that will likely replace them as the entire mentality right now is thrown every one out continually. Can our country continue to do anything but decline given that we can’t even fund things like our highways without a major ideological showdown.
Meanwhile, the rest of us have to rely on the few heroes and sheroes that are still fighting the good fight.
Don’t forget that Rachel Maddow will be interviewing Clinton on her show tonight at 9 pm edt. Maddow has indicated they will talk about her experience yesterday and her thoughts on the Biden decision.
What’s on your blogging and reading list today?