BENGHAZI HEARING: THE WEDGE BETWEEN HILLARY AND REPUBLICANS DEEPENS

The tone of the Benghazi hearing was predictable. The Republicans attacked Hillary Clinton for conflicting statements and assurances she made privately, and those made to the public. Much of the committee’s focus was on whether the attack on the Embassy was precipitated by a widely circulated anti-Muslim YouTube video, as Clinton initially told the public, or whether the Secretary of State knew it was an attack conducted by terrorists. The Republican theory is that Clinton and the Obama team wanted to deflect concerns of terrorism to avoid diminishing the administration’s claim that terrorists were licked and on the run. The attack occurred some 50-days before the Obama/Clinton election. Concerns over the lack of security at the Embassy, a fact known by Clinton, but not acted on, provided the questioners with additional fodder. Clinton mainly responded by saying that intelligence reports were shifting, and she adjusted her remarks to conform with the new information. Republicans kept the pressure on Clinton, but she came off as prepared and did not take any damaging blows. Democrats on the committee rallied to her support throughout the hearing. It seems that those that distrusted her before the hearing still do, and those who already trusted her, still do. Overall, if anything definitive about the hearing can be deduced, it is clear that the whole process has served to drive a seemingly irreversible wedge between Clinton and the Republican party. While animosity may be typical of opposing political parties, the degree of angst here, may negatively impact any future claims she may make about uniting the country through non-partisan efforts. Few people in the nation have faced such a divide. It is clear that her Republican challenger for the Presidency will have this strong argument to use against her if she touts uniting skills.

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