January 31, 2013 at 12:25 pm EDT | by Peter Rosenstein
Hillary turns tables on Republicans

There must be something in the water Republicans drink that makes them say the ridiculous things they say. There is a definite proclivity to “foot-in-mouth” disease and making themselves look incompetent. From the statements on rape from their Senate candidates Todd Akin in Missouri and Richard Mourdock in Indiana, to the House candidate in Illinois who said that that Tammy Duckworth (D-Ill.) shouldn’t talk about her service because she really isn’t a hero, despite losing her legs fighting in Iraq. Then Rep. Paul Ryan (R-Wis.) went on “Meet the Press” and said he still believes that the recent election was a status quo one. Laughably he suggested all would be OK if President Obama simply compromised as conservatives are supposedly doing.

I don’t claim Democrats never say silly things but these days the most absurd and offensive comments come from Republicans. Last week’s congressional hearings were a case in point. At Hillary Clinton’s hearing on Benghazi and at Sen. John Kerry’s confirmation hearing, Sen. Ron Johnson (R-Wis.) was particularly abrasive and made a fool of himself. How could the voters of Wisconsin elect him and then turn around and elect someone as great as Sen. Tammy Baldwin?

Clinton took Johnson to task for carrying on about what Susan Rice said on TV. She said, “I personally was not focused on talking points, I was focused on keeping our people safe and doing what needed to be done in the follow-up to Benghazi.” Then when Johnson continued on the issue of the talking points Hillary finally exploded, “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 decided they would kill some Americans. What difference 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.”

She sparred with Sen. Rand Paul (R-Ky.), who tried to skewer her over the attack. Paul said, “Had I been president at the time and I found you had not read the cables from Benghazi . . . I would have relieved you from your post,” at which point everyone gasped and I was surprised that Clinton contained herself and didn’t laugh out loud at the ludicrous thought of Paul as president. Paul continued, “I think it’s inexcusable you did not know about this.” Clinton replied, “I stood next to President Obama as the Marines carried those flag-draped caskets off the plane at Andrews. I put my arms around the mothers and fathers, sons and daughters. I believe in transparency, I believe in taking responsibility, and I have done so.” She reminded the Republicans that all cables are addressed to the secretary and there are millions, and Congress has consistently cut the president’s request for higher security budgets.

During Kerry’s confirmation hearing, Johnson again showed why Republicans should be wary of letting him speak. Kerry called him out for missing a classified briefing on the deadly attacks in Benghazi when Johnson pressed Kerry to commit to finding out what, exactly, happened on Sept. 11, 2012 at the U.S. consulate there. When he went on to ask Kerry about an answer he had wanted from Secretary Clinton, Kerry responded, “Senator, if you’re trying to get some daylight between me and Secretary Clinton, that’s not going to happen here today on that score. I think you’re talking past each other. I don’t think that was the question. I think that, if your question is, ‘Should the American people get the truth and does it matter?’ Hillary Clinton would say yes, and I say yes. But that’s not what I think she was referring to.” Clinton was referring to the sequence and timing of the events, and when the intelligence information came to light, Kerry said. He went on to say that in the briefing Johnson didn’t attend, “… there was a briefing with tapes, which we all saw, those of us who went to it, which made it crystal clear,” Kerry said. “We sat for several hours with our intel folks, who described to us precisely what we were seeing. We saw the events unfold. We had a very complete and detailed description.”

Kerry will be easily confirmed and with regard to the Benghazi hearings Hillary appeared the professor telling her miscreant students how the world works. She talked rings around them because she had the facts and they didn’t even want them. She gave them a master class in how a witness can conduct herself at a congressional hearing. Instead of embarrassing her or the administration, Republicans once again embarrassed themselves. Maybe it really is in their water.

1 Comment
  • Between the Clinton hearing, Kerry's confirmation, and now Hagel's hearings, it seems that Sen. McCain in particular has shown that he will support any candidate, as long as it is the candidate John McCain wanted. He was almost giddy during Sec. Kerry's hearing, because that's who HE wanted, over Susan Rice. Don't get me wrong, I appreciate Kerry and feel he's well-suited for the position, but watching McCain in these three recent situations has been like watching a preschooler react to being told yes or no by his daycare teacher.

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