John Batchelor writes on his blog:
Hillary Clinton from Peru goes on the video record to claim, “I take responsibility; I’m in charge of the State Department, sixty thousand…” for the Benghazi fail of September 11.
[Note: In January 2008, HRC reminded Candidate Obama, "the buck stops in the Oval Office," and Republican Sens. John McCain (AZ), Lindsey Graham (SC), and Kelly Ayotte (NH) confirm that sentiment in a letter, saying that the buck stops with Obama: "The security of Americans serving our nation everywhere in the world is ultimately the job of the Commander-in-Chief. The buck stops there."]
Puzzle at the HRC decision, the night before the presidential debate, to stand in the way of the blame for Benghazi directed at Candidate Obama. Why?
1. Does HRC mean to make Obama look better, because he did not know and did not ask and maintained the convenient fiction of a spontaneous mob riot for nearly two weeks after the event — perhaps up to and including the POTUS UN speech of September 25?
2. Or does HRC mean to make Obama look worse, because it has been more than a month, and Candidate Obama has only made indirect remarks about the tragedy, and some of those remarks, such as at the Univision interview, have been misleading.
3. Does HRC even care about the debate? The Piers Morgan remark to his guest, Dan Rather, “Quick reaction to that, Dan?” — and Dan Rather’s unhesitant, “Uh, playing defense,” point to the likely narrative of the episode.
Playing defense from whom? Mr. Romney? Unlikely, since Mitt Romney directs his attacks about Benghazi at Candidate Obama.
Playing defense from POTUS? Possibly, though it appears remote that Mr. Obama would blame his StateSec at this late hour.
Playing defense for the future? This is most likely. HRC looks to preempt attacks on her service as weak on terror in the future — always looking to maintain her electability for 2016 and beyond. [See below.]
More speculation: Did OFA direct HRC to speak out on Benghazi the night before the debate? This is far-fetched, though the possibility is operatic fun.
Did HRC inform OFA that she was going to make headlines by commenting on her “responsibility” on camera the night before, from Peru, so that the record would fly around the world and be played on every morning TV show in all six continents? Also unlikely.
Was this an ambush by HRC to make OFA look spiteful and fearful of the Benghazi question in the debate this week and next? The Clintons! There has to be a part in here for Bill Clinton. Is this revenge for the “3 A.M. Call” of 2008 that HRC didn’t get to take? Did Axelrod call Candidate Obama after HRC made the “I take responsibility,” line, and say, “She did it, that (blank), stabbed us in the back at 9 pm!”
- The moment I heard this I had one thought: This is the move of a political master. Consider what this accomplishes:
It is a statesmanlike move, going forward and not ducking responsibility in a way nobody has been willing to do.
It covers her, by taking responsibility it heads off all kinds of stories that might come up with a theme of finding fault. Why should congress investigate to pin blame when it’s already been accepted?
It supports the president, by taking the blame she shields the first Black president both showing herself a good soldier to the party and most importantly to the black community.
It undermines Obama by making her look strong, and him look weak. He is now forced to make some kind of statement second as a response. It’s the 3 AM phone call with her answering while he goes to Vegas.
It ends press coverage on what the Obama Administration should do next, blame assigned move on.
It doesn’t end coverage it changes it. What will the president do about this? It puts Obama in a box. Blame is assigned so what is the punishment? If Hillary is responsible does he ask for her resignation, does he fire her? With his electoral prospects already sinking he dare not do either, and God help him if she resigns on her own. It would be another example of her acting while he is paralyzed. It is the final act of Carterization of the president.
It makes her vulnerable as every commentator on the right calls for her head in the hope of embarrassing Obama and taking her down a peg.
It gets her in good with the base of her party. I can see the fundraising e-mails now. “She’s taken responsibility and those nasty right wingers are piling on” This will coin money for her. That doesn’t even take into account how the press will react.
It hurts her 2016 election prospects after all she is responsible for an attack on the US on the Anniversary of 9/11 no less.
Not only does this make her look presidential (Expect comparisons to JFK’s Bay of Pigs speech from the MSM) but it neutralizes her primary opponents on the subject, in fact for the second time in twelve years she will be able to paint herself as the victim of the irresponsibility of a man who should have known better.
It hands President Romney a ready-made issue in 2016 to use.
It puts Romney in a box. Every president has foreign policy failures and Mitt will have his share. Imagine the debate answer: “President Romney is right. I was secretary of state during the Benghazi debacle and I took full responsibility for it. What I would like to know is when the president will take responsibility for (insert relevant issue here)”. It will put and keep Mitt on the defensive.
The Bottom line is forgetting all the national security and moral issues involved. Hillary has done the thing that most helps her in the long run while all the time managing to undermine her foes on both the left and the right in one fell swoop.
That doesn’t mean it wasn’t the right thing to do, it IS but as usual the right thing is generally the smart thing and this was the smartest thing anyone in this administration has done in a while.
This story may continue, but in terms of it’s negative impact there will be little if any on Hillary Clinton from this point on.
- That’s all well and good, but where does the buck stop on all the lying and covering up that followed? Yes, I used the unvarnished “l-word” because that’s what it was. How else to characterize UN Ambassador Susan Rice running around telling everyone in earshot that the Benghazi events were caused by an idiotic and unwatched YouTube trailer when Occam’s Razor — not to mention rocket-propelled grenades, an ambassador dragged through the streets, and a safe house mysteriously under fire — pointed to a terror attack commemorating September 11?
And then the president, acting like an errant husband unwilling to confess his adultery (who do you believe – me or your lying eyes?), repeated the same swill on The View nearly a week later. Unconscionable.
Why did this happen? Why this bizarre need to obfuscate or push away such an obvious truth?
It’s a lot more significant than the usual election season blather. On the deepest level, Barack Obama did not want to be found out. He had something even bigger than Benghazi to cover up – his worldview.
Our president really believes — or more precisely really wants to believe — that the Islamist threat is relatively small and can be met with what John Kerry (his debate coach) used to call “police actions.” In Obama’s case, that means drone attacks or, more famously, the assassination of bin Laden, which he ordered and his associates give him so much credit for when any U.S. president would have done the same thing. (Can you imagine the outcry if it had ever been discovered that one hadn’t?)
Terrorists? Which terrorists?
- The White House has put special operations strike forces on standby and moved drones into the skies above Africa, ready to strike militant targets from Libya to Mali — if investigators can find the Al Qaeda-linked group responsible for the death of the U.S. ambassador and three other Americans in Libya.
But officials say the administration, with weeks until the presidential election, is weighing whether the short-term payoff of exacting retribution on Al Qaeda is worth the risk that such strikes could elevate the group’s profile in the region, alienate governments the U.S. needs to fight it in the future and do little to slow the growing terror threat in North Africa.
Details on the administration’s position and on its search for a possible target were provided by three current and one former administration official, as well as an analyst who was approached by the White House for help. All four spoke on condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to discuss the high-level debates publicly.
The dilemma shows the tension of the White House’s need to demonstrate it is responding forcefully to Al Qaeda, balanced against its long-term plans to develop relationships and trust with local governments and build a permanent U.S. counterterrorist network in the region.