The odd thing is that we all saw this coming. So the question is, why didn't they? I think one answer is that they think when they plot among themselves, the rest of us can't hear them.
So, for example, we sometimes hear them openly debate among themselves closing down the government and then blaming Obama. So then they settle on going ahead with that plan, and the next thing we hear them all saying is, "President Obama shutting down the government does nobody any good!", followed by photos everywhere of small groups of hapless and confused veterans at some war monument, surrounded by Republican operatives carrying signs demanding that Obama open up the government he heartlessly closed down.
Meanwhile, polls show the public overwhelmingly blames Republicans, who are totally confused by that.
Maybe Kevin McCarthy should have asked Fox News to not tell anyone when he made that comment that Hillary's poll numbers dropped after the House announced they'd hold another hearing. Unfortunately, Fox accidentally leaked it to the world, and eventually, the Democrats got wind of it. If this were a TV sitcom, this would be the point where one of us non-conservatives would pipe in and ask, "You do know we're standing right here, and that we can hear everything you're saying, don't you?"
So having been to several of these dog-and-pony shows already, Hillary apparently knew what not to do this time -- that being, to lose her temper, giving the Republicans a soundbite such as "What difference does it make?" to use against her. She kept her cool yesterday.
And we have to remember the context of that quote, from that Senate committee hearing back in January 2013, during questioning from Sen. Ron Johnson, R-WI, an administration critic, who asked her about exactly when everyone knew the assault wasn't a protest against some film:
Clinton: ... I would recommend highly you read both what the ARB [State Department Accountability Review Board] said about it and the classified ARB because, even today, there are questions being raised. Now, we have no doubt they were terrorists, they were militants, they attacked us, they killed our people. But what was going on and why they were doing what they were doing is still unknown --
Johnson: No, again, we were misled that there were supposedly protests and that something sprang out of that -- an assault sprang out of that -- and that was easily ascertained that that was not the fact, and the American people could have known that within days and they didn’t know that.
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 that they’d they 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 [Intelligence Community] has a process, I understand, going with the other committees to explain how these talking points came out.So, yes, the big issue back then, as it was yesterday, was talking points. And where, you may be asking yourself, do "talking points" fit into the deaths in Benghazi?
In fact, "talking points" always have nothing to do with anything except politics.
From the Republican perspective, even while the fires were still burning in the Benghazi outpost, the administration was playing politics with them -- wondering what effect the attacks would have on the upcoming 2012 reelection, with the Republicans assuming the Democrats would be thinking that labeling this a "terrorist" attack would allegedly go against the Democrats' alleged campaign narrative, that all al Qaeda terrorism had been wiped out by the Obama administration.
Okay, stop right there.
First of all, I don't remember any such narrative at that time. Second of all, as Democratic strategist Paul Begala pointed out on CNN yesterday, you'd think a better Democratic strategy back then would be that we need to keep in power the president that finally caught up with bin Ladin, since the terrorist threats were still out there. And they were, as Obama frequently noted.
So yesterday, by concentrating on the imaginary politics that the Democrats were playing in 2011, the Republicans were playing politics for 2016. Not only that, everybody in the world now realizes that. Had they realized that would happen beforehand, you'd think they'd save their embarrassment by canceling the hearings.
As for where were all those Sidney Blumenthal questions headed? For a while, it seemed to be to prove that Hillary spends too much time texting old friends than her ambassadors, since there were hardly any emails between her and them in her recently released emails. She, of course, countered that by pointing out that she communicated with embassies by other, more secure means, than emails. Case closed.
And why did none of the Benghazi requests for increased security reach her? Because those requests from the embassy would not have gone to her, they would have gone directly to the State Department security department. Case closed.
And finally, did this hearing hurt Hillary Clinton? No. In fact, it probably helped her campaign, by showing she's a professional who knows how to do things, and that her critics, whenever they get the chance to set a trap for her, seem to fall into the trap themselves.
So what was learned? Maybe this:
How can one escape the conclusion that, if there is a God, he put conservative Republicans on Earth solely for the amusement of the rest of us?