What Was That, McCain?
01.23.13 4:37 PM ET
Hillary on the Hill
Well, what's the takeaway? They got nothing out of her, that's for sure. The big moment was the "what difference does it make?" quote, when she blew up at Rob Johnson. So let's parse that a bit.
Democratic spin: That was Hillary at her toughest, telling the right wing to go stuff it. She let the mask down and was real, raw, showed her emotional side.
Republican spin: What difference does it make? It makes a hell of a lot of difference! That's the whole point here.
If you go back and watch the exchange, which you can at the link above, you will see that what is really being disputed here is this question about why didn't the US government know that night exactly what happened. Hence Clinton's frustration. It is clear that the right is jumping all over the above phrase. If you Google it (along with Clinton's name--apparently, What Difference Does It Make? was a Smiths single), you will see that most of the links on the first couple pages will take you to right-wing site hoo-boy-ing it up, saying things like this, from Breitbart:
Poor Condi Rice. Why didn't she pull this during the 9/11 hearings. "What difference does it make what we knew and when we knew it, Senator? 3,000 Americans that September morning!"
Comparing 3,000 deaths with four is insane. But I do think these words will hang around her neck for a while. The question then becomes whether a large percentage of Americans agrees with her or agrees with the Republicans. As I've written about this all along, some obviously tragic errors in judgment were made, three State employees lost their jobs over it, so a price was paid, but exactly how this started isn't something that the American public is likely to obsess over. It's Libya. It's dangerous. It's hardly shocking that something like this happened.
Other than that, they didn't touch her. John McCain completely wasted his shot at her, just pontificating away, looking aggreived, not accomplishing anything. Rand Paul was feisty and pointed but then asked a totally nutso question. If you were as confused as Clinton was ("Turkey???"), here's the explanation. There arose last year some wingnut conspiracy theory that Amb Stevens was involved in running guns to the Syrian rebels through Turkey. Here, from an obscure web site:
One of the shocking revelations coming out about the murder of our ambassador in Benghazi, Chis Stevens, is that he was apparently involved in a gun-running scheme arming Syrian rebels. And what are the Syrian rebels doing with those weapons? Killing Christians among others. Is the U.S. arming the rebels improving life for the Syrian people? Not hardly!
To normal human beings, Paul asked an idiotic black-helicopter question. But he's probably already raised $100,000 off of it from Christian persecution groups.
Hillary heads to the House this afternoon. Bottom line so far: She will have to do a little damage control for that quote, but she is still the 2016 frontrunner.