Had enough of Benghazi yet?
Actually, I have to admit that I have.
Not that it wasn’t fun to see Hillary Clinton appear to be the only grown-up in the room when the squabbling between the children (who are playing members of Congress) got at its worst.
If the Republican game plan was to get her goat, push her to counterattack, take her down before the American people even, the endless hearing was a total failure. It accomplished none of those things.
Indeed, I think it is fair to say that substantively speaking, it accomplished absolutely nothing at all.
“I don’t know that she testified much differently today than when she previously testified,” the committee’s much-maligned chairman, Rep. Trey Gowdy, conceded after 10-plus hours.
Nope. Pretty much exactly the same. Pretty much the same as she’s always said. Seven congressional committees have examined Benghazi. I wish it were because we find the killing of an American ambassador to be such an assault on our country that we are determined to find out who was behind it, and to bring them to justice. It isn’t.
It’s because the then-secretary of state is the nominee apparent of the Democratic Party and under the Donald Trump theory that you’re responsible for anything bad that happened when you were in office, she is responsible for Benghazi. Fine.
But she didn’t do anything wrong, and neither did anyone else on her team, unless you count the ambassador’s own belief, based on his long experience in the area and deep connections to the people, that he could return safely. That turned out to be a mistake, but it is not the subject of these hearings, or of the congressional investigations.
No, somehow hours were spent on the hardly relevant topic of emails Sidney Blumenthal sent to Secretary Clinton on her home server, emails which, all indications suggest, were never relied upon by Clinton or anyone else.
With all due respect to Sidney, these emails would hardly seem to merit a congressional hearing, nor should they get in the way if the hearing really were about Benghazi. But it’s not, as Republicans themselves have repeatedly admitted.
The hearings, the whole investigation, is a partisan attempt to hurt Clinton, as no lesser a Republican than House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy said on television.
He has been mercilessly criticized for putting forth a bit of honesty, as if stating the obvious in a political season is a deadly sin when it pulls the curtain on an obvious ploy.
It was, in short, another good day for Clinton, and another day in silly season for the Republicans.
They did not end the day with anything to show for the buildup except mostly self-inflicted wounds based on past misstatements (including Gowdy possibly revealing the secret name of a confidential source that appeared in an email to Clinton), and endless squabbling that made the composed and articulate Clinton look like she was the only one who knew how to keep her head about her.
Former Secretary Clinton has been playing big-league baseball for 25 years, and you either get very good in that period of time or, like most people, you flush out.
Clinton could never have survived, politically speaking, unless she had developed a level of grace under fire almost as well-tested as her husband’s. It was the second reminder in as many weeks for both the press and the public of just what a formidable candidate Hillary Clinton is. The first was enough, in the confluence of events, to help ease Vice President Joe Biden out of the race.
Who knows what the second may accomplish.
Susan Estrich is a nationally syndicated columnist.