There has been a lot of back and forth about “Will Barack Obama Throw Hillary under the Bus over Benghazi?” or vice-versa this week .
It was quite a situation, If Obama threw Hillary under the bus would the Clintons work subrosa against him? (I maintain they already have been.) If Hillary threw Obama under the bus would the African-American community make her pay in 2016, it’s one thing for them to be pissed off at Obama, it’s quite another for some white lady to beat up on him.
What do you do? Well Hillary has threaded the needle in a way that accomplishes everything she needed to thus.
Secretary of State Hillary Clinton on Monday tried to douse a political firestorm around the deadly assault on a U.S. diplomatic mission in Libya, saying she is responsible for the security of American diplomatic outposts.
“I take responsibility” for the protection of U.S. diplomats, Clinton said during a visit to Peru. But she said an investigation now under way will ultimately determine what happened in the attack that left four Americans dead.
The moment I heard this I had one thought: This is the move of a political master. Consider what this accomplishes:
It is a statesman like move, going forward and not ducking responsibility in a way nobody has been willing to do.
It covers her, by taking responsibility it heads off all kinds of stories that might come up with a theme of finding fault. Why should congress investigate to pin blame when it’s already been accepted?
It supports the president, by taking the blame she shields the first Black president both showing herself a good soldier to the party and most importantly to the black community.
It undermines Obama by making her look strong, and him look weak. He is now forced to make some kind of statement second as a response. It’s the 3 AM phone call with her answering while he goes to Vegas.
It ends press coverage on what the Obama Administration should do next, blame assigned move on.
It doesn’t end coverage it changes it. What will the president do about this? It puts Obama in a box. Blame is assigned so what is the punishment? If Hillary is responsible does he ask for her resignation, does he fire her? With his electoral prospects already sinking he dare not do either, and God help him if she resigns on her own. It would be another example of her acting while he is paralyzed. It is the final act of Carterization of the president.
It makes her vulnerable as every commentator on the right calls for her head in the hope of embarrassing Obama and taking her down a peg.
It gets her in good with the base of her party. I can see the fundraising e-mails now. “She’s taken responsibility and those nasty right wingers are piling on” This will coin money for her. That doesn’t even take into account how the press will react.
It hurts her 2016 election prospects after all she is responsible for an attack on the US on the Anniversary of 9/11 no less.
Not only does this make her look presidential (Expect comparisons to JFK’s Bay of Pigs speech from the MSM) but it neutralizes her primary opponents on the subject, in fact for the second time in twelve years she will be able to paint herself as the victim of the irresponsibility of a man who should have known better.
It hands President Romney a ready-made issue in 2016 to use.
It puts Romney in a box. Every president has foreign policy failures and Mitt will have his share. Imagine the debate answer: “President Romney is right. I was secretary of state during the Benghazi debacle and I took full responsibility for it. What I would like to know is when the president will take responsibility for (insert relevant issue here)”. It will put and keep Mitt on the defensive.
The Bottom line is forgetting all the national security and moral issues involved. Hillary has done the thing that most helps her in the long run while all the time managing to undermine her foes on both the left and the right in one fell swoop.
That doesn’t mean it wasn’t the right thing to do, it IS but as usual the right thing is generally the smart thing and this was the smartest thing anyone in this administration has done in a while.
This story may continue, but in terms of its negative impact there will be little if any on Hillary Clinton from this point on.
Stacy Smithy gets it:
Why am I not a Presidential candidate? Because if I was Mitt, I’d be all: “I’d like to congratulate the President on his choice of Secretary of State. After the better part of four years, somebody in the Administration finally took responsibility the way leaders do, on one of those hopefully rare occasions when it involves confessing a shortcoming. In this case, one that involved the butchery of four Americans. Hopefully this President isn’t too old to learn something from all this. Better leaders plan so as to minimize these sorts of tragedies. Lesser men play the Casablanca card and locate a usual suspects for a round-up. How is Nakoula doing these days, Mr. President?”
Update 2: On Morning Joe Hillary Clinton compared to JFK. Think about it, in under 12 hours Hillary goes from: “The person responsible for a disaster” to JFK saying “defeat is an orphan”.
Today is day one of campaign 2016.
Update 3: Captain Ed Morrissey (he will always be Captain Ed to me) NAILS it:
It’s a jaw-dropping display of a leadership vacuum, which Hillary ended up having to fill herself. This is exactly what Hillary warned voters about in 2008. The contrast between her moment of leadership in this crisis and Obama’s lack of leadership since the very beginning of it will not help Obama make the case for another four years of buck-passing at the top, not even when Obama showed leadership on the Nicki Minaj-Mariah Carey feud.
And Stacy McCain spots an oversight on my part:
— Robert Stacy McCain (@rsmccain) October 16, 2012
Corrected and noted.