Hillary the Hyped
What difference the Senate Intelligence report on Benghazi makes.


Jonah Goldberg

Editor’s Note: The following is Jonah Goldberg’s weekly “news”letter, the G-File. Subscribe here to get the G-File delivered to your inbox on Fridays.

Dear Reader (Including those of you who have merely stumbled onto this “news”letter via the filthy Internet rather than receiving it via the space-age pneumatic technology it was intended for),

Say you work for a company that depends on sales (“Um, are there other kinds of businesses?” — The Couch).

Imagine you have a saleswoman who everyone says is the best — THE BEST!! (ideally said in a Kenny Banya voice). Whenever you point out that her sales numbers stink, everyone calls you “sexist” or insists that you just “don’t get it.”

You respond, “What has she done?”

The universal answer is, “She clocked more miles on sales calls than anybody in company history! She’s driven a million miles! One. Million. Miles!”

You ask: “Yeah, but has she, you know, sold anything?”

“Sexist! You don’t get it!”


If you haven’t figured it out yet, I’m talking about Hillary Clinton. When you ask her diehard supporters what she did as secretary of state they start with, “She travelled a million miles! More than any secretary of state.”

Put aside the fact that the “more than any secretary of state” part isn’t actually true — Condi Rice flew more. When you ask, “Okay, what did she get for it?” you get a blank stare or you get some stuff about championing women’s rights. Two people have told me she did good work in Myanmar, but I’ve never really gotten to the bottom of that. I suppose I could look it up, but at the end of the day we’re still talking about Myanmar, which is not the locus of America’s most pressing international problems. (“That’s right, because Hillary prevented the Myanmarese hegemony,” someone at MSNBC just shrieked. “She stopped it cold.”) While the Wikipedia page on her tenure doesn’t even mention Myanmar, it does mention her championing of better cook stoves in the Third World. That’s good. And so is improving the plight of women in various countries where their status ranges between “Slightly More Important than the Village Mule” to “So Incredibly Delicate We Must Keep Them Covered with Burlap Sacks All Day Long Even Though It’s Like 115 Degrees in the Shade Today.”

But when I take out my handy pocket realpolitik calculator, I just can’t make all that add up to much. Particularly when you compare it with our worsening problems in the Middle East, Asia (minus Myanmar!), Europe, Russia, and South America. Those problems are by no means all her fault (nor are they all Obama’s fault). But Clinton was the second most important foreign-policy official. If you were, say, the assistant coach of the 1999 Cleveland Browns or the deputy spokesman for Baghdad Bob during the lead-up to the Iraq War, you might — just might — want to highlight other things on your résumé. So it is with Clinton. As our chief diplomat, she presided over a long slide into foreign-policy suckitude. On her watch, America’s standing got worse every place it matters (except Myanmar!), despite all of those sales calls.

What Difference It Makes
And that leaves out the <sarcasm> little </sarcasm> issue of Benghazi. The Senate Intelligence Committee report is at once a fascinating and utterly banal artifact of Washington. It identifies a huge mistake. It denounces said mistake. It concludes that the mistake could have been prevented. But nobody is responsible for the mistake. The bureaucracy did it!

Okay, you ask, who was in charge of that bureaucracy?

Shut up, they explain.

Liberal pundits and reporters are utterly contemptuous of the idea that the Benghazi scandal will be a problem for her. Eugene Robinson writes today that the Senate Intelligence Report is a total exoneration of the administration. This is bizarre on many levels. It’s also hard to square with the fact that the White House is livid with the Democrats who signed on to the report (or so a couple of Hill folks have told me). Why get furious at an exoneration?

The lack of curiosity about the report from the mainstream media is really remarkable. Why, exactly, aren’t reporters camped outside Clinton’s home demanding a reaction? I mean I understand that she didn’t close a couple of lanes on the George Washington Bridge, but four murdered Americans, including a U.S. ambassador, is important, too. Maybe if she had joked about putting traffic cones in front of the embassy on September 11?

Still, it is obvious that this is bad news for Hillary Clinton. No, she won’t be indicted. No, it won’t sink her candidacy (if she runs). Yes, it’s true: There aren’t many Americans who would have otherwise voted for Hillary were it not for Benghazi. But when you have pretty much no real accomplishments to put on the pro side of the scale, and you have a U.S. ambassador murdered in an attack your department could have prevented (and which you subsequently lied about) on the con side of the scale, the scale simply won’t balance in your favor. Nor should it.



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