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March 26th, 2017

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Gumming up the works over Benghazi

Wesley Pruden

By Wesley Pruden

Published Oct. 7, 2015

Gumming up the works over Benghazi

Pity the American voter. Angry, frustrated and desperate, in successive elections he delivers more Republican soldiers to Congress, all in the spirit of Dr. Johnson's famous description of a second marriage as "the triumph of hope over experience." All that changes in Washington is the size of the nothingburgers.

For four years the public has been waiting for answers about what happened at Benghazi, and so far the only thing clear is that four Americans, including an ambassador, were abandoned and left to die when the shooting started. (Guns do so frighten Democrats.)

Four years later we don't know who was asleep at the White House, snoring at the State Department and dozing at the Pentagon. Probably everyone. Hillary Clinton, who as the secretary of State was first in line of responsibility, has consistently refused to talk about it, offering only talking points and invoking Fourth of July humbug. President Obama has the luxury of assigning others to take the questions; he was busy on a speech. Someone at the Pentagon no doubt has some real answers, but the first thing an ambitious general learns is that it's the president who punches his ticket.

When bigger blunders are built, Republicans will build them. Rep. Kevin McCarthy of California, the apparent popular choice of Republicans to be their next leader as the speaker of the House, probably put the Benghazi investigation in the trash can with his remarks that the investigation was all about sealing doom for Hillary Clinton. "Everybody thought Hillary Clinton was unbeatable, right?" he told an interviewer. "But we put together a Benghazi special committee. What are her numbers today? Her numbers are dropping."

If you want a definition of "the Peter Principle," that an organization man rises to the level of his incompetence, get thee to the nearest Webster's New International Dictionary and look under P, for "Peter Principle." You'll find a nice portrait of Mr. McCarthy. He doesn't look too bright, but he's a nice-enough-looking fellow, much sought after now by interviewers.

This is the catnip the Democratic defenders of Hillary needed, lending superficial credibility to her excuse that holding her responsible for the deadly debacle is just dirty politics. "Look at the situation they chose to exploit," she said in New Hampshire, "to go after me for political reasons: the death of four Americans in Benghazi. This committee was set up, as they have admitted, for the purpose of making a partisan, political issue out of deaths of four Americans."

Hillary is thus enabled to pose as a wounded warrior, punished for thinking only of others, when she has never in her life been credibly accused of thinking of anyone but herself. The Democrats now want the Benghazi panel disbanded, but the lady won't join that partisan din. She says she can't wait for Oct. 22, when she is at last scheduled to testify. She's as eager as a schoolgirl anticipating her first prom to drop in on Congress, "to explain everything we've done, everything that I asked to happen." (Hillary has the biggest heart in town. Just ask anybody who knows her.) The Republicans should send Mr. McCarthy on a fact-finding trip to Lower Slobbovia for tips on how one can keep one's mouth tightly closed. With luck he might not be back before Christmas.

The Democrats on the Benghazi panel have contrived to send out the words of someone to speak for her. They've leaked bits and pieces of a transcript of the testimony of Cheryl Mills, one of Hillary's top aides, praising her boss for doing every little thing just right when the shooting started in Benghazi, depicting Hillary as calm, as cool, as calculating as Lee at Chancellorsville.

In her testimony to the Benghazi panel on Sept. 3, Miss Mills attempted to push back at claims that Hillary was "detached" on the night of the attack, and oblivious of all the White House sturm and drang to get out a believable lie. She described her boss as "hands-on" in trying to deploy military resources to "secure our people," and said "absolutely everything was on the table" to stabilize events thousands of miles away.

"She was pretty emphatic about wanting whatever to be done and whatever were assets that could be deployed, if that was both effective and possible to be done." The usual blah-blah, using a stray military term here and there, spoken exactly as if by someone who didn't have a clue about what was going on.

"Obviously, it was a challenging environment, given that our compound had been overrun." Yes, that was certainly obvious. Steel-trap mind at work there.

We may have to wait for the memoirs. Lying is an art Hillary perfected a long time ago. Nobody does it better than a Clinton, and nobody bungles better than a Republican congressman.

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JWR contributor Wesley Pruden is editor emeritus of The Washington Times.

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