It’s a little-known fact that the Road Runner and Wile E. Coyote weren’t always the way we see them in the cartoons. In early days, the chase was more in earnest — the Road Runner more nervous, the Coyote more confident. But over time the bird came to realize how little danger he was really in, and this gave him a certain cheerful sangfroid.
Which brings us to Hillary Clinton at the latest session of the Benghazi Committee.
By acclamation, the Republican committee’s eleven-hour grilling of Clinton left her more burnished than burned, and rightbloggers glowering, because this seems to dash their four-year-old hope that the deaths of four Americans at the Libyan diplomatic compounds in 2012 would destroy the then–secretary of State’s career.
The Benghazi attack and the lack of security that led to it was an obvious clusterfuck. But rather than treat it as a matter of professional competence, from the beginning Republicans have tried to insinuate something darker and more actionable about it, particularly when it was revealed that the anti-Muslim video on which President Obama and Clinton originally blamed the attack was not the real accelerant.
It could be that Clinton was bullshitting about the video connection, but secretaries of State are paid to bullshit; they’re diplomats, not ombudsmen. This may be why, in her first committee appearance, Clinton said in exasperation, “At this point what difference does it make?” But rightbloggers didn’t see it like that; remember, they consider the Clintons a crime family, and all their actions by definition nefarious; therefore they interpreted Clinton’s question as an admission that she had done wrong and a gesture of defiance to the committee. Clinton’s question became a rightblogger cri de grrr, as seen in numberless crappy photoshops of Clinton sneering (sometimes spattered with blood) at the four dead Americans she probably murdered with her bare hands because they saw her husband raping a little girl on Jeffrey Epstein’s private jet.
By the time this latest hearing rolled around, however, a few things had changed. Clinton had apparently weathered another “scandal” (about her email server) and made a positive impression in the first Democratic presidential debate; and Kevin McCarthy, once considered the heir to John Boehner’s Speaker of the House gig, sounded as if he were admitting that the Benghazi hearings had been cooked up to nail Clinton.
Thus rightbloggers weren’t as boo-yah about the hearings going in and, when the eleven-hour session came last Thursday (along with a poll revealing that most Americans saw the whole thing as a put-up job), their mood was less triumphant than belligerently defensive.
“The Benghazi Hearings Confirm Yet Again What a Brazen Liar Hillary Is,” sputtered National Review’s Jonah Goldberg, who began his career helping his mom go after Clinton’s husband in another scandal that didn’t work out. “Personally, I’ve never found the Benghazi scandal very mysterious,” said Goldberg. “It’s been clear for a very long time what happened.” He then quoted at length from Wag the Dog. Get it? Maybe you had to be there.
Anyway, Goldberg was mainly mad at the press for not sharing his view of the Clinton menace. “Hillary Clinton lied over and over and over, but she did it with poise and grace, so she’s the winner,” moped Goldberg. “I should be more furious about it all, but rage is hard to muster when the outrageous is so predictable. Contempt, however, is much easier to conjure.” Thus the author of Liberal Fascism rode the chairlift to moral high ground. “That’s why I keep saying ‘lie’ and ‘liar’ with regard to the Clintons,” Goldberg concluded. “It makes all of the right people wince when you call Hillary a liar, because the truth still stings.” Wince, did they? Maybe Goldberg misread his editors’ confused squints.
“No, Hillary Clinton Did Not ‘Triumph’ at the Benghazi Hearing,” insisted Debra Heine’s headline at the PJ Tatler. “Clinton did appear to be composed and well prepared for everything the Republicans on the panel threw at her,” Heine admitted, “but there were a couple of extremely weird moments in which she laughed inappropriately during serious questioning. Those moments could come back to haunt her.”
Inappropriate laughter? Wait, that’s nothing — Hillary also had a coughing fit! Drudge was all over it, and the Weekly Standard raced to pick up the theme: “Hillary Clinton stumbled at the Benghazi hearing today on Capitol Hill,” they reported. “As the hearing moved well past its tenth hour, Clinton had a serious coughing fit that prevented her momentarily from being able to speak.” Yes, they had video. Smaller fries did what they could with it (“Hillary Clinton’s Convenient Coughing Fit at the Benghazi Hearing,” “Hillary Clinton’s Fake Coughing Fit at Benghazi Hearing Exposed,” “Hillary Clinton coughing fit was so fake VIDEO,” etc.).
The brighter rightbloggers cut their losses as best they could. After several grafs of Questions Remain, RedState kingpin Erick Erickson abruptly announced, “those questions should be answered and the hearings should not be a waste of time, but they are…because everything about it is politicized and nothing is going to happen.” Oh, he was clear that the usual villains were still to blame — Clinton was devious, the media complaisant, and Democrats would vote for Clinton “even if she were to admit that she had flown to Benghazi and joined Al Qaeda in the attack,” which theory of events would probably get a majority in a poll of Republican voters. But — and this shows how eager top conservatives were to get past it — Erickson even suggested some committee Republicans were “grandstand[ing] for the folks back home.” When they burn their own people, you know shit got real.
But others hung in there, bless ’em. When liberals groused at the time and expense they considered wasted on the Benghazi Committee, Elizabeth Harrington of the Washington Free Beacon said, oh yeah? Well, for your information “Feds Have Spent More on Origami Condoms, Fat Lesbian Studies Than on Benghazi Committee.” That’s right, not just lesbians but fat lesbians — the kind conservatives can’t get a boner to. And that’s not all: “The Democratic members on the Benghazi committee also like to point out that the Benghazi investigation has lasted 532 Days, ‘longer than the investigations of Pearl Harbor, the Kennedy assassination, Iran-Contra, and Hurricane Katrina,’ ” said Harrington. But “the federally funded investigation into lesbian obesity has lasted for 1,460 days, or four years since it began in September 2011.” And every day lesbian obesity persists and the NIH pays attention, the shame clock turns a digit. Why do Democrats hate America, love fat lesbians?
“What we do know for a fact is that Clinton lied…. What we don’t know is why,” said Flopping Aces. “Officially, anyway. In reality, we do know why. It was political. 100% political. It was about getting [Obama] re-elected. It was about the money.”
Money? You mean someone paid her to kill those people? Well, follow Flopping Aces’ logic: Hillary lied about the video to disguise the fact that Libya was a “failure of policy,” and if voters knew Libya wasn’t going so hot — which none of them would otherwise have known because nobody has access to Google, newspapers, or TV — “the 2012 election would have had a different outcome.” And that’s about money because, well, why else does anybody you don’t like do anything?
Some rightbloggers settled for wish fulfillment. The Right Scoop consoled themselves that the judge lady on the TV saw right through Clinton (“Hillary’s ‘POLITICAL TWO-STEP’ won at the Benghazi hearing, but WON’T escape the FBI! — Judge Jeanine”). Almost as good, a Republican congressman said the attack had nothing to do with the video — which every Republican in America has said at least 100 times, but which nonetheless WorldNetDaily headlined “Busted! Hillary’s Benghazi lies go even deeper.”
For Ben Shapiro at Breitbart.com, “Republicans demonstrated clearly on Thursday that Hillary Clinton lied routinely and repeatedly.” For one thing, “the most damaging angle Hillary took yesterday was her suggestion that Ambassador Stevens was responsible for his own death.” Wow, we must have been in the bathroom for that part! Or maybe it was too subtle for us — or anyone else; “Republicans should have pushed her on it,” admitted Shapiro. “They didn’t, afraid to look as though they were impugning her character.” If only Republicans weren’t so nice to Clinton all the time.
Finally, the Daily Caller had a scoop: “Congressman: Hillary Could Face a Second Benghazi Subpoena.” THIS time for sure! They’ll have to come up with something else quick, or come November 8, 2016, they’ll have a brand-new reason to hate her. Meep meep!
UPDATE. Corrected date and location of the Benghazi attacks.
This article from the Village Voice Archive was posted on October 26, 2015