Clinton: What difference does it make?
Here’s S.E. Cupp on Hillary Clinton’s testimony yesterday:
Firstly, and I want to say this not a condemnation of everything that Secretary Clinton said today, but I was incredibly offended by her reaction to what I thought was a very valid question from you and I think we all know what difference it makes whether the attacks were spontaneous or terrorism. [emphasis added]
This was in reaction to Clinton’s much-noted response to questioning from Senator Ron Johnson (R-WI), who was asking not for information about the attacks themselves, but about the administration’s public statements in the days after the Benghazi attacks. It was a very contentious sequence, and I encourage you to read this part of the transcript yourself. Here’s the specific question and Clinton’s response that so offended Cupp:
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 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.
Now, a literal reading of Clinton’s statement alone is that she is belittling Johnson’s desire to understand the circumstances surrounding the attack. But with any context at all, her meaning becomes clear. Johnson’s questioning had nothing to do with understanding the circumstances surrounding the attack, and everything to do with ridiculing the Obama administration for its public statements in the weeks following the attack. With that context, Clinton’s response to attacks on those statements that have proven false is perfectly logical: what difference does it make?
Cupp then asked Sen. Johnson this question:
Why do you think Benghazi happened? Was it politics? Was it a funding issue? Negligence? Incompetence? Duplicity? All of the above? What do you think?
Read literally, Cupp seems to think that the attack in Libya was caused by one or more of the following: politics, lack of funding, negligence, incompetence, and duplicity. Huh? Politics led to the attack? The administration’s allegedly duplicitous statements in the aftermath caused the attack?
The problem here is that Republicans, including Cupp and those on the committees, are conflating the attack with the administration’s public response for purely political reasons. They are at least as concerned with scoring points by playing up the administration’s errors as with discussing the attack.
Clinton’s response was not about the attack and the attack’s investigation. It was about Republicans’ faux controversy about the administration’s public statements.
And it’s a good question: What difference does it make today that the administration, in an effort to get information out, got it wrong? The answer, to any rational person, is none whatsoever.