Way to go, Hillary! You’re Better than those Clods

I wanted to take a swing at that churlish Rand Paul (above, left) when he talked about firing Hillary Clinton (above, right) if he were president. The nerve of that Kentucky yokel! Who but he would contemplate the ludicrous possibility of a President Rand Paul, anyway?

And as for Wisconsin’s Ron Johnson, what a jerk! He needed somebody to smack him upside his empty head.

But Hillary didn’t need me to defend her honor. She proved more than capable of doing that all by herself.

Of course I’m talking about the Benghazi hearings. I caught snatches of them throughout the day, and Sandra kept me informed whenever some fresh outrage erupted.

From what I heard, I have to agree with Washington Post columnist Dana Milbank, who summed up the skirmishing this way:

They blamed her mismanagement for the death of Americans in Benghazi, Libya. They accused her of a cover-up. Some even suggested that she faked an illness to avoid testifying about the attack.

On Wednesday, Hillary Rodham Clinton finally had her chance to respond to critics, and the outgoing secretary of state served up a potent brew of righteous outrage.

Let’s get the obvious out of the way. Of course the Benghazi attack was a tragedy. Of course it should never have happened. And nobody feels worse about it than Hillary.

She personally knew the four Americans killed in the attack. And Ambassador Chris Stevens was not just a colleague, he was her friend.

“For me, this is not just a matter of policy, it’s personal,” she emotionally reminded the yellow dogs yapping at her heels. “I stood next to President Obama as the Marines carried those flag-draped caskets off the plane at Andrews. I put my arms around the mothers and fathers, the sisters and brothers, the sons and daughters, and the wives left alone to raise their children.”

And she reminded them that working for the State Department can be a dangerous job. The Benghazi tragedy was one of a long line of attacks on American embassies and consulates. And did they need to be reminded that it was Congress that starved the department for funds, leaving American’s diplomats in danger? I don’t think so.

As Joan Walsh, one of my favorite columnists, points out in Salon.com today, the Secretary of State “was lectured and hectored by guys who don’t quite measure up to her and never will.”

They sniped incessantly about the comment Susan Rice made on TV, the suggestion that it might have been a spontaneous protest against an offensive movie that triggered the attack on the consulate in Benghazi. Everybody knows by now that it was the CIA that fed Ms. Rice the bogus information, but that didn’t stop Hillary’s critics from piling on.

That Ron Johnson guy, for example.

Ms. Walsh dismissed him as “underwhelming.” Here’s her view of the senator’s performance:

On a morning in which senators vied for the worst moment, Tea Party darling Ron Johnson of Wisconsin stood out. “A very simple phone call to these individuals I think would have ascertained, immediately, that there was no protest prior to this…it was an assault,” he told Clinton condescendingly. The fact that Johnson could envision “a very simple phone call” in the wake of the Benghazi carnage – has he even seen photos of the devastated compound? – shows that he’s a very simple man when it comes to foreign policy.  Johnson’s entire point was to ask, again, about Rice “purposely misleading” the Sunday shows five days after the attack.

That old has-been, John McCain, also showed his mean streak, but – as Ms. Walsh observed- his criticism was gently deflected by Hillary, who happens to be (used to be?) an old friend of his. Here’s how Ms. Walsh described the moment:

Clinton did a great job disarming McCain, a little, with warmth, replying calmly: “I understand your very very strong feelings. You knew Chris [Stevens], you were one of the staunchest supporters of the effort to dislodge [Moammar al-Qadaffi] and try to give the Libyan people a chance. And we just have a disagreement. We have a disagreement about what happened, and when it happened and with respect to explaining the sequence of events.”)

To me, the hearings should have ended after this explanation from Hillary (as quoted by Ms. Walsh):

With all due respect, the fact is we had four dead Americans. Was it because there was a protest or was it because there were guys who went out for a walk one night who decided they would kill some Americans? What difference at this point does it make? It is our job to figure out what happened and to do everything we can to make sure it never happens again.

What more was there to say?

In my view, Hillary Clinton came out of those hearings looking every inch like America’s first female president. She was steely-eyed and informed, calm and assured when she needed to be, righteously angry when her petty critics crossed the line.

Go get some rest, Hillary. We need you to be fresh and healthy come 2016.

Click here to read Dana Milbank’s column.

Click here to read Joan Walsh’s column.