You know how these hearings unfold by now, for they usually follow a standard script. Irate, self-righteous politicians bluster and beat their chests after summoning the “accused” before them, giving longwinded speeches, reprimands, insults and tongue-lashings to the presumed-guilty party cowering or bristling before them. Then, after all the political theater, the drama subsides, Congress wastes a few more days speaking into the cameras and we all move on to the next hearing.
Does anything get solved this way? Hardly. But that is not the goal in Washington. Pomposity, finger-pointing, party politics, power struggles, high hypocrisy—all these take priority over solving actual problems.
So it is with this familiar script that outgoing Secretary of State Hillary Clinton was dragged before a committee of senators to defend herself against a barrage of criticism over the Benghazi attacks.
Some Republican legislators wasted no time in (over)playing the role of concerned, outraged lawman, with Sen. Rand Paul going so far as to brazenly chastise Clinton, declaring that if he were president he would have fired her. Yes, the ophthalmologist-turned-Tea Party politician, whose son was recently arrested and charged with underage drinking, went there. To add insult to injury, he had the audacity to say Benghazi was the worst tragedy since 9/11. What planet is this man living on?
Clinton kept her cool and didn’t respond like I hoped she would—maybe she is still under the effects of her recent concussion and hospital stay for a subsequent blood clot—for Paul’s self-righteous lunacy bordering on pomposity needed checking, big time.
Yes, four Americans were murdered at the consulate in Benghazi, Libya, on Sept. 11, 2012, and yes, we need to get to the bottom of how this tragedy happened so that it will never happen again. If it was a systemic failure on all levels, including those pointing fingers and asking tough questions after the fact, Washington needs to get its act together because the loss of one life is one too many.
But we also have seen other horrific tragedies, both across the world and here at home, including previous attacks on US embassies. The most recent incident of homegrown terror saw the slaughter of 20 children and six educators in Newtown, Conn. Our troops are dying every day on the frontlines of two wars, and more than 500 citizens, including children, were murdered on the streets of Chicago last year alone.
Moreover, the Bush administration was warned about the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, 2001, and chose to do nothing. Nearly 3,000 Americans were murdered as Bush and his team sat on the intelligence and twiddled their thumbs. When asked during the 9/11 hearings if she knew of the attack beforehand, Condoleezza Rice, then the national security adviser, said no. But then, in the same breath, Rice read from top-secret documents that clearly stated al-Qaida was determined to strike within the United States. [Read the official transcript from that hearing here.]
So I ask Rand Paul, Sen. John McCain and their fellow Republicans hurling tough questions at Secretary Clinton—where was your outrage then? I would have liked Clinton to ask Paul if he had called for the firing of President Bush, Vice President Dick Cheney or Condoleezza Rice following the worst terrorist attack ever on US soil? (If he had been there, that is. I think he was still checking eyes at that time.)
The junior senator from Kentucky’s dream of grandiosity must have rendered him intellectually incoherent to say the things he said to Clinton, for he made absolutely no sense. As for McCain, retirement might be in order. His rabid rampage over what UN Ambassador Susan Rice said about Benghazi was one for the B.S. books—and I don’t mean bachelor of science.
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