Hillary Clinton's dodgy testimony
Her lying, while outrageous, is incidental to the real offense.

Reuters

U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton responds forcefully to intense questioning on the September attacks on U.S. diplomatic sites in Benghazi, Libya, during a Senate Foreign Relations Committee hearing on Capitol Hill in Washington January 23, 2013.

Article Highlights

  • A lot of people in Washington apparently forgot how good Hillary Clinton is at not telling the truth writes @JonahNRO.

    Tweet This

  • In her testimony on Wednesday, Hillary Clinton brilliantly fudged, dodged, and filibustered. @JonahNRO

    Tweet This

  • The US government responded to the murder of 4 Americans by treating our constitutional rights as part of the problem.

    Tweet This

A lot of people in Washington apparently forgot how good Hillary Clinton is at not telling the truth.

Wednesday, in her testimony before the Senate and, later, the House, Clinton brilliantly fudged, dodged, and filibustered. Of course, she’s a pro. Clinton was slow-walking depositions, lawyering up, and shifting blame when many of her questioners were still civilians down on the farm.

Aided by a ridiculous format, she outfoxed most of the Republicans with ease.

Meanwhile, the Democrats, almost uniformly, seemed singularly interested in celebrating Mrs. Clinton as a global diva who somehow manages to carry the burden of her awesomeness with humility and grace. If smoking were still allowed in the Capitol, one could easily imagine her removing a cigarette from a gold case and tapping it nonchalantly on the witness table, and the entire Democratic caucus leaping over their desks for the chance to light it for her.

The most dramatic moment came early, when Wisconsin Sen. Ron Johnson tried to get Clinton to explain why the State Department blamed the September 11 terrorist attacks in Benghazi on an impromptu protest over an anti-Muslim video. In a rehearsed moment of spontaneous outrage, Clinton yelled back, “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 to kill some Americans? What difference at this point does it make?”

It is a measure of Clinton’s cult-like status on the left and among much of the press that this passed for a satisfactory, never mind impressive, response. But it’s also a tribute to Clinton’s gift for mendacity that it worked so well.

Even among the administration’s harshest critics, people seemed at a loss to fully explain what difference it makes whether the administration’s spin was true or not. For many, the answer is simply that government officials shouldn’t lie. That’s a necessary criticism, but hardly sufficient.

Just to be clear, Clinton lied and is still lying. When asked about the claim that the attack was sparked by a protest over a video, she responded, “I did not say . . . that it was about the video for Libya.”

That’s simply untrue. When she stood by the caskets of the four Americans killed in Libya, she directly blamed an “awful Internet video that we had nothing to do with.” Afterward, she reportedly told the father of Tyrone Woods, the former Navy SEAL who was killed in the attack, “We will make sure the person who made that film is arrested and prosecuted.” Why tell the man that if the video had nothing to do with it?

Moreover, Clinton was part of an administration that crafted an entire PR strategy to blame these attacks on “an awful Internet video.” White House press secretary Jay Carney was unequivocal: This was a “response to a video, a film we have judged to be reprehensible and disgusting.” In his address to the United Nations, President Obama mentioned the video six times but al-Qaeda once. When he appeared on the Late Show with David Letterman, he blamed the video directly. U.N. ambassador Susan Rice went on five Sunday shows blaming the video. All of this happened when they already knew it was not true on the day of the attack, and even the president of Libya had publicly called the protest explanation ridiculous.

But again, the lying, while outrageous, is incidental to the real offense, which is twofold. First, why did the administration lie? Well, it wanted to conceal its utter failure to prepare for terrorist attacks on September 11 — which is like being surprised by Christmas falling on December 25. Also, the Obama administration, by which I mean the Obama campaign, was desperate to protect its hyped record of fighting terrorism. A “spontaneous” attack invited not by the administration’s shortcomings but by some nutty video was just the ticket.

Indeed, on this score, Clinton was true to her word. While none of the murderers have been apprehended, the filmmaker is in jail, the picture of his arrest splashed across the globe.

Which brings us to the second part: the nature of the lie. Remember, not all lies are equally harmful. In this case, the U.S. government responded to the murder of four Americans by treating our constitutional rights as part of the problem. A former teacher of constitutional law, Obama was happy to watch the country argue new limits on free expression and the necessity of giving bloodthirsty savages and terrorists a heckler’s veto on what Americans can do or say.

Clinton was in on that lie, and that makes all the difference in the world.

Also Visit
AEIdeas Blog The American Magazine
About the Author

 

Jonah
Goldberg

  •  


    A bestselling author and columnist, Jonah Goldberg's nationally syndicated column appears regularly in scores of newspapers across the United States. He is also a columnist for the Los Angeles Times, a member of the board of contributors to USA Today, a contributor to Fox News, a contributing editor to National Review, and the founding editor of National Review Online. He was named by the Atlantic magazine as one of the top 50 political commentators in America. In 2011 he was named the Robert J. Novak Journalist of the Year at the Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC). He has written on politics, media, and culture for a wide variety of publications and has appeared on numerous television and radio programs. Prior to joining National Review, he was a founding producer for Think Tank with Ben Wattenberg on PBS and wrote and produced several other PBS documentaries. He is the recipient of the prestigious Lowell Thomas Award. He is the author of two New York Times bestsellers, The Tyranny of Clichés (Sentinel HC, 2012) and Liberal Fascism (Doubleday, 2008).  At AEI, Mr. Goldberg writes about political and cultural issues for American.com and the Enterprise Blog.

    Follow Jonah Goldberg on Twitter.


  • Phone: 202-862-7165
    Email: jonah.goldberg@aei.org

What's new on AEI

image The Census Bureau and Obamacare: Dumb decision? Yes. Conspiracy? No.
image A 'three-state solution' for Middle East peace
image Give the CBO long-range tools
image The coming collapse of India's communists
AEI on Facebook
Events Calendar
  • 21
    MON
  • 22
    TUE
  • 23
    WED
  • 24
    THU
  • 25
    FRI
Wednesday, April 23, 2014 | 12:00 p.m. – 1:30 p.m.
Graduation day: How dads’ involvement impacts higher education success

Join a diverse group of panelists — including sociologists, education experts, and students — for a discussion of how public policy and culture can help families lay a firmer foundation for their children’s educational success, and of how the effects of paternal involvement vary by socioeconomic background.

Thursday, April 24, 2014 | 12:00 p.m. – 1:30 p.m.
Getting it right: A better strategy to defeat al Qaeda

This event will coincide with the release of a new report by AEI’s Mary Habeck, which analyzes why current national security policy is failing to stop the advancement of al Qaeda and its affiliates and what the US can do to develop a successful strategy to defeat this enemy.

Friday, April 25, 2014 | 9:15 a.m. – 1:15 p.m.
Obamacare’s rocky start and uncertain future

During this event, experts with many different views on the ACA will offer their predictions for the future.   

No events scheduled this day.
No events scheduled today.
No events scheduled this day.
No events scheduled this day.
No events scheduled this day.