Friday, October 30, 2015

How The Benghazi Committee Led Me To Hillary

Last week, on the morning of the latest in a long line of House Select Committee hearings on Benghazi, I was finishing up a blog post in which I hoped during the next few months Progressives/Liberals would all just get along.  At that point, on that morning, I thought I was still neutral about the two front-runners.  (Joe Biden has announced he's not running and Martin O'Malley, the only other viable candidate, is so far behind he's almost invisible. It's early yet, but unless someone else shows up, it's going to be either Hillary Clinton or Bernie Sanders.)

I finished up just before the hearing began, hit the "publish" button, and settled back to watch what I already knew would be a win-win for Hillary.  How could it not be?  After all this time, the Republican Benghazi committee members are the only ones on the face of the earth who refuse to believe there's no there there.

Credit:  Caroly Kaster/AP
Well, I'm here to tell you, that wasn't just a win, that was a whomping!

They can't say they weren't warned.  The Democrats on the  committee begged them not to do it. Members of their own party begged them not to do it.  But do it they did, and as the hour grew late, after 11 hours of gotcha questions followed by Hillary's infuriatingly calm responses (and the interception of some formidable Democrats, Elijah Cummings chief among them), Committee chair Trey Gowdy, soggy as an old dishrag, stopped the madness cold, even after promising certain panel members they would get another chance at interrogating the witness.  Stopped it dead.  Th-th-th-that's all, folks.

Hillary the interogatee showed no signs of exhaustion and instead hung around long enough to give hugs and air kisses before flitting away, off to spend the evening partying with friends.

I realize now I've been leaning toward Hillary for a while, but it wasn't until last week, when I saw her strength and grace under fire, that I decided I could happily support her.  No one in public life has been more scrutinized than Hillary. Barack Obama may come a close second, bless his heart, but his public life can be counted in years and not in decades.  Hillary has been under the microscope since she was a young woman.  That relentless scrutiny is bound to turn up discrepancies--even a pack of lies.  She has spent her entire public life having to defend her every move, her every decision--from hair styles and pantsuits to why she did, in fact, stand by her man.

She's been a First Lady, a Senator, a Secretary of State.  She did all that while being under constant fire from haters on the Right and on the Left.  Is she  deceitful?  Is she reserved?  Is she less than transparent?  I'll bet she's been all three.  Intense, unrelenting public scrutiny will do that to a person.  But her kindness, her friendships, her work for women's and children's causes is almost never acknowledged.  She is an adoring grandmother now, and her charity work is well known.

She held herself back for years, thinking, wrongly, that she needed to show strength and not softness.  Now she knows better and it's driving her enemies crazy.  They so want to keep believing she's a ruthless she-devil war-monger in the pockets of the rich.

Is she too cozy with Wall Street? She was, after all, the Senator from New York. It's no secret she takes campaign funds and Clinton Foundation donations from Wall Street donors.  There aren't many who don't.  (It's a tribute to Bernie Sanders that he can manage a campaign without super-PAC funds.  I wish him luck.)

Her vote on the Iraq War is ancient history.  It was wrong-headed, as she admits today.  I would be more concerned if she were still insisting she did the right thing.

Is she a war-monger?  She was tough as Secretary of State, keen on aiding oppressed human beings, not keen on retreat, but she showed no signs of Condi Riceing us into a reckless sustained war.

Am I leaning toward her because she's a woman?  That's part of it.  I was born when FDR was president and I've lived through 12 more presidents--all of them male.  I would love to see a woman in the White House but I'm not choosing Hillary simply because of her gender.  I choose her because I think she'll do the best job of anyone running.  (I've been a long-time Bernie Sanders admirer and I love his passion for the causes I believe in.  I think domestically--as senator or maybe governor--he's outstanding.  I don't see him in an international role as president. His temperament, an asset when he's leading a cause, is worrisome when applied to "leader of the free world".)

There will be mountains of evidence against Hillary as the months go by.  Some of it will be disturbingly on the mark.  She has made her share of blunders--some of them calculating.  There were times when she was not even "likable enough".  But I see her as a woman under siege.  I marvel at her courage as she deals with it while still building a remarkable life.

She's a pragmatist. She has a history of wanting desperately to win at anything she tries and she's not above pandering to do that.  I want her to be as liberal as I am, of course.  I want her to be as liberal as Bernie Sanders.  I believe she'll be more liberal than Barack Obama (there are others who believe she may even be more liberal than Bernie Sanders), but her presidency will not be FDR's Second Coming.  (Neither would Bernie Sanders', no matter how much he might wish it.)

We need a president who can stand up to the Tea Party Republicans, who understands foreign policy, and knows intimately the workings of Washington.  I don't believe for a minute that she'll be a corporate pawn.  She also won't be Obama's--or her husband's--keeper of the flame.  There's a reason she's so feared by the other side.  It's because she's her own person and no matter what they do to her she doesn't break.

It'll take real balls to lead us through the next decade.  Hillary may be just the woman to get it done.

(Can also be seen at The Broad Side and Crooks & Liars)

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