Hillary Clinton has a Benghazi problem, and she knows it.
She knows that a majority of Americans, according to a recent Washington Post/ABC News poll, support the formation of a congressional select committee to investigate the attacks. In spite of Team Hillary’s strategy of casting anyone who is concerned about the deaths of three American servicemen and a U.S. ambassador as a harebrained conspiracy theorist, only 42 percent said they believed the attack has been investigated enough. That same survey showed that only 38 percent of adults approve of how Clinton handled that incident and its aftermath.
Clinton’s Benghazi problem is part of what led her to prominently feature the September 14, 2012, casket ceremony at Andrews Air Force Base on her book’s back cover art. Clinton’s Benghazi problem is also what led her to make a series of flippant and dismissive statements to ABC’s Diane Sawyer about that attack. It’s all part of a critical effort to reclaim the narrative surrounding her response to that deadly attack.
When asked by Sawyer if the Benghazi probe would deter a White House bid, Clinton replied that it has made her even more inclined to run in order to prove a point. “Actually, it is more of a reason to run because I do not believe our great country should be playing minor league ball,” she insisted. “We ought to be in the majors. And I view this as really apart from, even a diversion from the hard work that the Congress should be doing about the problems facing our country and the world.”
When asked if there was anything she could have personally done to ensure that those over whom she had responsibility could have been offered better protection, she said that there was not. “I’m not equipped to sit and look at blueprints, to determine where the blast walls need to be or where the reinforcements need to be,” Clinton said. “That’s why we hire people who have that expertise.”
Asked to respond to those comments on Tuesday on CBS News’ This Morning, Sen. Marco Rubio (R-FL) exploited the obvious opening that Clinton’s strategy has created. Coldly, soberly, dispassionately, Rubio charged Clinton with an insufficient concern about threats to American national security.
“The State Department had at its disposal a steady stream of reporting about how dangerous – how much danger that facility in Benghazi was in,” Rubio began. “It is a fact they did not take sufficient security measures, and it is a fact that perhaps it shouldn’t have even been there, and it is a fact it should not have been there and it is a fact they did not have an extraction plan in place that was sufficient.”
“If she thinks it’s something we shouldn’t focus on, then perhaps that gives insight as to why it happened in the first place,” Rubio added, delivering the coup de grâce.
He concluded by noting that “no one has been held responsible,” a factor possibly accounting for the fact that a majority of Americans believe the attack should be investigated further.
Clinton’s remarks on Benghazi were not the only comments she made on Monday which caused a stir. In what one must assume was an effort to recast herself in a populist mold, Clinton asserted that her and her ex-president husband were “dead broke” and “suffered” after leaving the White House. This comment prompted political reporters to assert that Clinton had committed the first gaffe of the 2016 cycle.
“Let me just clarify that I fully appreciate how hard life is for so many Americans today,” Clinton said on Tuesday on ABC’s Good Morning America. Asked if she understood why her comments raised so many eyebrows, she said she could but “everything in life has to be put into context.”
You’re not winning when you are explaining, and appealing to context is the modern equivalent of the scoundrel’s last refuge. Clinton’s comments about her finances required immediate damage control. As Rubio ably demonstrated on Tuesday, it will be Clinton’s comments about Benghazi that she will have to put into their proper “context” next.