Sunday, February 23, 2014

Hillary Clinton, Benghazi, and the best case scenario

Liberals claim conservatives are going overboard about Benghazi simply because conservatives don’t like Hillary Clinton.

To counteract that let’s look at a best-case assessment of Ms Clinton’s involvement in the disaster at Benghazi.

First let’s look at the facts which are a matter of public record and not subject to debate:

·      The US Ambassador to Libya and three other Americans died in the attack.
·      It was known that there were significant terrorist elements in Libya
·      The State Department did not increase security in spite of warnings
·      The State Department made extensive changes to the CIA talking points to eliminate references to terrorist involvement
·      The attack was not an outgrowth of a mob or demonstration
·      Ms Clinton called for the prosecution of an American who exercised his First Amendment rights.
·      An unnamed State Department source said on 9/13/2012 that there the anti-Muslim movie had nothing to do with the attack
·      Ms Clinton on 9/14/2012 continued to blame the movie
·      The State Department didn’t acknowledge that there were no protesters until 10/9/2012

Let’s assume that at all times Ms Clinton acted solely based on the best interests of America; that her political future in no way impacted any of her actions.

What can we then conclude about Ms. Clinton’s capabilities?

The bipartisan Senate report clearly concluded that the Benghazi tragedy could have been avoided because of the warnings that were available and pins the blame on the State Department and the Intelligence Community.

How Ms Clinton failed keep Americans safe and how she reacted to her failure provides insights into her suitability for the Presidency.

The first negative assessment of Ms Clinton in this best case scenario is based on the fact that she didn’t think terrorists might find attacking on 9/11 tempting.

Her reasoning could have gone one of several ways:
·      Terrorism is no longer a real problem so we needn’t be concerned
·      There are no terrorists in Libya so we needn’t be concerned
·      She didn’t bother to think about the issue at all

In the first case she would have demonstrated an amazingly inaccurate understanding of a key threat to the US.  Could we ever trust someone with that sort of outlook to run America’s foreign policy as President?

In the second case she would have demonstrated not listening to her subordinates, having selected subordinates who were not up to the task, or of having created a climate where raising the issue of terrorism was frowned on.  Clearly someone who ran such a dysfunctional organization is ill suited for running the entire government.

In the third case Ms Clinton would have demonstrated a significant failure in determining what was important.  Do we want a President who can’t prioritize critical issues?

The second negative assessment we can make about Ms Clinton is based on her declaration that she would ensure that the maker of the anti-Muslim movie would be punished.

The first key insight this provides to us is that Ms Clinton believes the First Amendment does not apply to attacks on Muslims and/or to anything that would make US foreign policy harder.  She has not gone on record condemning such anti-Christian artwork as “Piss Christ”—a crucifix in a jar of the “artists” urine – so one has to wonder if she believes that Muslims are more protected than Christians.

Sticking to the concept of best-case analysis however let’s assume that Ms Clinton believes that any artist who produces a piece of art which is offensive to any religious group should be prosecuted.  Do we really want a President who believes that the full power of government should be applied to anyone who creates offensive art?  Christians didn’t call for “Piss Christ” to be destroyed or its creator “punished” but only for condemnation of the work and for the government to not pay for it.

In a similar vein let’s suppose that Ms Clinton only feels that those individuals whose art or expression creates problems for US foreign policy should be subject to prosecution.  Given that the First Amendment was intended to protect political speech, not pornography, it would be very bad to have a President who believed that American’s don’t have the right to publically express condemnation of foreign groups.  From a liberal perspective if this is Ms Clintons belief there is an even more serious problem.  Muslims constantly condemn the US as a source of pornography. Hence Ms Clinton may feel a need to prosecute all producers of pornography that offends Muslims; something liberals would clearly find as intolerable.

Finally even if we assume that Ms Clinton actually believed that Benghazi was the result of a spontaneous riot it seems odd that her first response would be to blame a movie made in America rather than the Libyan mob. Do we want a President who thinks that the problems in the world are due to American movies and not violent Muslims?  Shouldn’t the President condemn murder more than she condemns making offensive movies?

The last major failing of Ms Clinton is that under her the State Department was completely ineffective in keeping her apprised of world events.

Long after there was clear evidence that the attack on Benghazi was not a mob gone bad Ms Clinton kept pitching that story to the American people.

Those who think ill of Ms Clinton would say that she was deliberately lying to protect Obama in return for Obama supporting her in the 2016 primaries. But from the best-case approach that can’t be true.

The only possible conclusion is that Ms Clintons own hand picked staff and advisors were either lying to her or so incompetent that they were unable to find out the facts themselves. Do we want a President who is so inept in picking critical subordinates? What sort of Cabinet appointments can we expect from Ms Clinton given her apparent abject failure in staffing at the State Department?

Using a best-case analysis where we assume that politics had no influence on Ms Clintons actions we can conclude that:

·      She does not understand the role of terrorism in the modern world: she did not understand that Americans might be at risk in a country full of terrorists on 9/11
·      She does not believe in the First Amendment: she wants to punish a man for his Constitutionally protected free speech
·      She does not know how to select good subordinates: her staff were incapable of keeping her up-to-date on what had happened in Benghazi

Even in the best-case scenario it’s clear that Ms Clinton lacks some of the key characteristics we need in a President.

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