Via Politico. My silly first reaction to this was, “Wow, she basically just admitted that the Republicans slamming her over this for the past 16 months have a point.” But what else could she say? Imagine the uproar if she had answered a question about her biggest regret and didn’t say “Benghazi.” There’s no spinning this issue away. Her best move is to own it, as she did here, and trust that the left and the media will continue to treat outrage over Benghazi as an artifact of partisanship. Yes, it was her job to provide security for a consulate in a notoriously dangerous area, and sure, she failed to do that, and okay, Americans were murdered, but these wingnuts simply will. not. let. it. go. I think she trusts that her team can get deep enough in the weeds on security protocols and CIA coordination and bureaucracy, etc etc, to convince swing voters that it’s only nominally her fault, not actually her fault, which would make this a minor liability in the campaign. Throw enough mind-numbing he-said-she-said partisan bickering at low-information voters and they’ll throw their hands up and dismiss the whole subject as one whose truth will never really be known. Hillary will happily settle for that.
Where Benghazi might hurt her a bit is as an attack on her vaunted “experience.” She may lack for accomplishments but she doesn’t lack for credentials; the eventual GOP nominee will almost certainly be seen by most voters as greener than Hillary is. “Benghazi” is thus a byword for how little her supposed experience mattered to Americans under her command. That’s one reason why Ted Cruz and Rand Paul have been so prominent in attacking her on it, I think — it’s an unusually efficient way to reduce her “experience” advantage over legislators who are still in their first terms. (For Paul, ripping her on lax security is also a way for him to build some credibility as a kinda sorta hawk.) The whole thrust of the Republican message in the next campaign will be that Hopenchange and its Clintonian inheritors are, despite their claims to expertise and “smart power,” fundamentally incompetent in their management of the country domestically and abroad. They saw the problems with the ObamaCare website coming and they blew it. They saw the security problems in Benghazi coming and they blew that. They saw the Iranian nuke program developing for years and years and, by the end of O’s term, they’ll have blown that too. Although, ironically, if/when Obama fumbles the ball on Iran, that’ll undermine another potential GOP argument against Hillary — namely, that her successor at State was much more successful than she was. I like using Kerry as a yardstick for Hillary since it exposes the modesty of her own resume in such stark terms, but since Kerry will probably end up praising her to the skies in the next campaign, it’d probably backfire.
Two clips here, one of Hillary and the other of Newt Gingrich from a week ago warning the GOP that you can’t expect to beat her by playing small ball. And Benghazi, for presidential campaign purposes, with the country consumed by the economic forecast and the future of health care, is small ball.