My guess is no, they wouldn’t dare, but the Daily Caller and Tom Maguire make a fair point. In the span of about 18 hours, we’ve had Biden and Carney each insist that blame for Benghazi’s security failures lies outside the White House. It’s State that’s responsible for protecting U.S. diplomats in the field, which means if the buck doesn’t stop with Obama here, then it must stop with you-know-who. Normally that wouldn’t be a problem, as cabinet members are expected to take the heat for the president when something goes badly wrong. But in this case you-know-who has her eye on running in 2016 — possibly against (heh) Biden himself — and surely doesn’t want Benghazi staining the foreign policy credentials she’s worked hard to build.
Throw Bill Clinton, official Obama campaign surrogate, into the mix and we’ve got the makings of a nuclear clusterfark of ego, ass-covering, presidential ambition, and Clintonian drama. Edward Klein says the chain reaction is already in motion:
In fact, since the convention, Clinton and Obama have had a serious falling-out over two issues: the president’s preparation and lamentable performance in his debate with Mitt Romney, and the question of who should be assigned blame — Obama or Secretary of State Hillary Clinton — for the intelligence and security screw-up in Benghazi, Libya…
My sources tell me that Clinton is working on a strategy that will allow Hillary to avoid having Benghazi become a stain on her political fortunes should she decide to run for president in 2016.
Bill Clinton has even gone so far as to seek legal advice about Hillary’s liability in terms of cables and memos that might be subpoenaed by the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee, which this week launched an investigation into the deaths of Ambassador Chris Stevens and three other Americans. The committee will also examine the apparent Obama administration cover-up that followed the Benghazi attack.
Finally, I’m told that Bill is playing with various doomsday scenarios, up to and including the idea that Hillary should consider resigning over the issue if the Obama team tries to use her as a scapegoat.
Mickey Kaus sees the plot potentially thickening:
Will Hillary now shiv Obama back + leak that WH knew? Getting interesting! HRC v BHO/HRC v Joe. Will WJC keep stumping? http://t.co/HXDbBMBl
— Mickey Kaus (@kausmickey) October 12, 2012
I’m skeptical that O would hang Hillary out to dry, for four reasons. One: She’s the most popular member of the administration, far more popular than even The One himself. Her husband, who’s out on the trail for Obama as I write this, may be even more popular than she is. Why would O want to alienate the Clintons at a moment when he’s desperate to maximize turnout among Democrats? Doing that would damage his re-election chances more than a perfunctory “the buck stops with me” statement on Benghazi.
Two: She’s leaving soon anyway. She said earlier this year that she’ll serve four years at State and no more. Why pick a fight when they’ll benefit from the perception of new leadership at State in three months anyway? Just play out the string, be nice to her, blame “miscommunications” at the Department for the breakdown in consulate security, and let her ride off into the sunset.
Three: How are Obama and Biden going to scapegoat the most famous woman politician in America for a security breakdown at a moment when they’re counting on a decisive gender gap to deliver them a second term? After nine months of the “war on women” and Sandra Fluke and the three-day salute to abortion that you and I know as the Democratic convention, they’re going to freeze out … Hillary Clinton? C’mon.
Four: Even if O thought he could get away with scapegoating Hillary without fear of reprisal from women voters and the Clinton machine, it’d make him look pathetically weak. He likes to talk about how, as president, he bears responsibility for everything, but when you try to pin him down on specifics, he thinks he bears responsibility for almost nothing — be it the economy (Bush’s fault), Fast & Furious (DOJ underlings’ fault), the Benghazi horror (the Mohammed movie’s fault, now State Department underlings’ fault), etc. In fact, my hunch is that Hillary might secretly relish the chance to take a “buck stops here” line herself on Benghazi notwithstanding the danger it poses to her foreign-policy cred, since the public would respect that someone in the administration was willing to stand up. That’s a dangerous contrast for O: If you thought he looked weak before, imagine how he’d look if he tried to push this off on his Secretary of State — and former rival — and she turned it somehow into a demonstration of political courage and accountability. There are already plenty of people who think they nominated the wrong Democrat in 2008. He doesn’t need any more.
Exit quotation from Maguire: “Will this Obama/Biden message of ‘We killed Osama but they forgot to remind us about the blowback’ really carry them past the election?”
Update: An excellent point from Karl: