Hillary HearingWritten by Tim Higgins | | firstname.lastname@example.org
In perhaps the most disappointing debut since Star Wars Episode I, the most-anticipated of the Congressional Benghazi hearings came and went on the 23rd with little fanfare. The only thing of any surprise in the director’s cut of either the House or the Senate version was its almost total lack of surprise; coming as it did after weeks of hype, the titillation of a month of delay during Secretary Clinton’s illness, the conspiratorial whispers for weeks during and after the election, and the interminable delay of four months bone burying after the actual attack occurred.
In spite of the endless opportunities in the intervening period to improve the script, to rehearse the scenes to a polished perfection, and maybe even bring in some wardrobe and hair people to improve the appearance of most of the actors, this episodic production played itself out rather less successfully than the average community playhouse event. This rather weak drama went forward without illustrating the compelling nature of facts as required of a true documentary; and without taking advantage of the practiced delivery of veteran actors participating in an oft repeated plot.
In fairness, the limitations of the hearing process forced the ensemble cast of elected representatives into desperate grasping after the limelight during their limited time on stage. Their questions often proved to be more comment than query, more convoluted than those of a philosophy final, and so long that they left no time for the witness to answer before the next inquisitor took center stage.
At the end soul-sucking hours of pointless rhetoric, the audience that managed to sit through the entire performance was left empty and unsatisfied, and the critics were given barely enough this tawdry, but troubling tale to review. After being promised a truly epic tale, all were left with little more than a dime novel and the prospect of an unfulfilling sequel.
Of course for those looking for a more prosaic review of Wednesday’s events …
A public that had been led on for months about the enlightenment of Secretary of State Hilary Clinton’s testimony was once again left wanting. The only surprise here was the expectation that real answers would be forthcoming. Giving legislators five minutes to ask questions in front of the world’s microphones, is like giving an alcoholic five minutes of free drinks at the bar; entire unsatisfying for anyone. With neither the inquisitional skills, nor the rhetorical self-control of a lawyer trying to keep it simple for a jury, these politicians spent far more of their time opining on the situation than digging for additional facts. As a consequence of this failure, Mrs. Clinton and the State Department will be afforded the time and luxury to respond in writing to the few queries that were offered over the coming weeks; where they can be carefully parsed, nuanced, and buried in enough boring detail so as to be all but lost.
Having already lived through enough professional questioning in her life, the Secretary of State was savvy enough to let them rattle on through the mandatory mutual admiration and customary unproductive self-aggrandizement to make most of the process moot. Republican Senator Ron Johnson alone managed to find enough of a chink in the Clinton armor to force her to respond with emotion, “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 they’d they go kill some Americans? What difference, at this point, does it make?”
The answer of course (never given), is that after beginning her testimony with a ‘mea culpa’ and once again taking responsibility; the witness had, at least up until then, managed to accept such responsibility by blaming everything that had happened on subordinates. Having had those under her watch ignore or turn down requests for addition security after earlier attacks, not only the US enclave but the Red Cross and British to the point that both had abandoned their compounds, she apparently took the blame for not knowing of events that most of us just following the news did. She followed by accepting accountability for an issue that resulted from budget cuts to the State Department instead of explaining why a protection detail had been removed from Libya only a month before.
Such grand and curious admissions for guilt might leave at least some to wonder then, whether the misinformation handed to the American public about a YouTube video for weeks afterward was a lack of competence in supervising the gathering and releasing of information by her department, or a purposeful misleading of the American people by the State Department that she ran, especially with regard to the video that she and the President made decrying the values in an cinematic effort that evidently had nothing to do with events. Senator Rand Paul of Kentucky called her out during his time, going so far as to say that these failures called for her dismissal; but this is hardly a threat for a cabinet head only waiting for her replacement to be confirmed before heading for the door.
These hearings may now be over, but for all that they’ve discovered they might as well have never begun. And for all the hoopla over this dual venue bit of political bread and circuses, the American public still knows next to nothing after months of investigation and testimony by those who claim the blame.