Her fist pounding on the table, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton laid into her interrogator, Sen. Ron Johnson (R-Wis.), in what has become the defining moment of her testimony about the attack on America’s consulate in Benghazi. Her most vehement point: “What difference at this point does it make” why the perpetrators attacked? America’s job now is to make sure such attacks don’t happen again. As she mulls a run at the White House in 2016, the chattering class took time Sunday to assess her chances, what “Benghazigate” will mean for her political future, and how, with Hillary on the sidelines, America can combat an increasingly complex terrorist threat.
McCain: ‘We Don’t [Have] Answers’
If you’re a dead horse near Sen. John McCain, look out. On This Week, the Arizona senator continued to demand answers and repercussions for the Sept. 11 attack on America’s consulate in Benghazi, Libya. “There’s two movies been made about getting bin Laden with every ticktock of every minute,” McCain steamed, but “we still don’t know what the president was doing” during the attack on the Benghazi consulate. Paging Kathryn Bigelow?
Menendez: Nuff Said on Benghazi
Minutes later, Sen. Bob Menendez (D-N.J.) disagreed. The chairman of Clinton’s hearing before the Senate Foreign Relations Committee (and the man expected to become that body’s next chairman, once current leader John Kerry is sworn in as secretary of state) told This Week that he thinks “Benghazigate,” as it has been called, is over. “I don’t know how much more can be said about the realities of what happened in Benghazi,” he said.
Feinstein: Hillary Should Run in 2016
After Bob Schieffer explained that “bad stuff” is going on “in Mali and other places,” Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.) weighed in on Benghazi, terrorism, and how America should defend itself from future attacks. On Face the Nation, Feinstein warned against “an effort to establish a beachhead for terrorism, a joining together of terrorist organizations,” of which Benghazi “was a small symptom.” For defense, then, she said America should join forces with its allies, as well as with powers like China and Russia, to establish a coalition to fight terrorism worldwide. “It’s to the interest of civilized countries to have an apparatus to be able to take down and rend asunder terrorist groups wherever they appear,” she said.
And the best person to lead that charge after Obama’s second term, in her mind, is Hillary Clinton. “I am a fan,” Feinstein said of the outgoing secretary of state on State of the Union. “I would love it if she would run” in 2016.
Durbin: Benghazi ‘a Red Flare’
Hillary Clinton’s performance as secretary of state “will be recognized by history,” Sen. Dick Durbin (D-Ill.) said on Fox News Sunday, and her flare-up at her Senate hearing “was one of her finer moments.” Benghazigate, Durbin argued, was “a red flare of an issue” drummed up before the election to hurt Obama’s chances of reelection. Now that the president has been sworn in for a second term, Durbin continued, “the critical mission” is “to make sure it [an attack on a consulate or embassy] never happens again.”
Frum: Obama’s Sending a Message for 2016
In his first joint interview without the first lady, President Obama sits down alongside Hillary Clinton on Sunday night on 60 Minutes, to publicly praise his onetime adversary turned secretary of state. And on CNN’s Reliable Sources, David Frum argued that the interview is about Obama sending a message for 2016—and not the message you’d expect. “What this interview is about is the president saying: ‘I am neutral in the forthcoming Biden-Clinton contest for 2016,’” Frum said. It’s the president saying, “‘Leave me out of this; it’s between those two [Biden and Clinton].’”
Mitchell: Dems Say Hillary ‘Clears the Field’
Quoting “a lot of Democrats,” NBC’s Andrea Mitchell told Meet the Press that Clinton has a clear path to the 2016 Democratic nomination for president if she wants it. “If she decides—and she’s completely positioned for it—to run,” Mitchell said, “she clears the field ... No one can take her on.”