By Annie Nguyen
In the latest controversy to rock the nation, the House Benghazi committee hearings last Thursday questioned whether Hillary Clinton, as Secretary of State in 2012, had the means to stop an oncoming Islamic militant attack to two American compounds in Syria. The attack cost four Americans their lives — Chris Stevens, US Ambassador to Syria, Sean Smith, US Foreign Service Information Management Officer, Tyrone Woods and Glen Doherty, CIA contractors.
These lives lost in action should have been the focus of Clinton’s hearings last Thursday. But instead, the media scrutinized the Democratic presidential candidate’s poised demeanor rather than her responses to the questioning of her political choices in office.
What was intended to be an indirect attack on Clinton’s campaign and a recovery of information within Clinton’s possession at the time, in actuality, created a seemingly-positive performance of the political celebrity.
Before the hearing, the committee uncovered numerous details that criminalized Clinton and the Obama Administration. The primary evidence against Clinton lies in the fact that she and her team did, in fact, have knowledge that this occurrence was a premeditated attack.
However, she and the Obama Administration claimed that this attack was a spontaneous reaction to an anti-Muslim video. Motivation to act in this political word-twisting stemmed from the Obama re-election campaign underway at the time. Emphasizing the Benghazi attack as an “act of terror” would highlight Obama’s success in the White House as a defender against terrorists. Ironic how one claim to the presidential throne would eventually damage another.
Three years later, not much else has been uncovered.
“I don’t know that [Clinton] testified that much differently today than she has the previous time she testified,” said Trey Gowdy, chairman of the House Benghazi committee.
Although the committee spent 17 months and $4.5 million on this investigation, the hearings seemed to rather benefit their primary accused party in the latest hearing.
And to the fault of whom? No one in particular. The committee can blame Clinton’s political experience and professionalism for their inability to coerce true answers out of her.
According to the evidence given, Clinton should have received days of coverage berating her decisions as a prominent leader of American international action. But as a seasoned politician, Clinton remained the picture of “composed, yet responsive.” With 5.24 million voters watching, the press only captured Clinton’s calm and collected presentation throughout the 11 hours of the marathon hearing.
Clinton was well aware of her definitive stance upon entering the hearing.
She explained that she agreed to speak at the hearing “to both honor the people that we lost and try to make sure this doesn’t happen again.”
By operating under the guise of sympathy, Clinton reverted the direction of the hearing to her benefit. She understood and capitalized upon her chance at redemption, constantly reminding voters that her mistake has truly affected her. She catered to the people’s desires of hearing a well-spoken representative of the United States.
And it worked. According to a PoliticusUSA poll, the former Secretary of State now polls a 65-24 percent lead over her most formidable opponent, Bernie Sanders.
Even following the exhausting hearing, Clinton molds a seemingly-incriminating situation to better her reputation.
“I wanted to rise above partisanship and reach for statesmanship,” Clinton explained.
Once again, Clinton surprised the Republicans, rising above their claims against her. She has effectively played into the role of a political celebrity, and the media’s coverage of her hearing has only strengthened her campaign. But in doing so, the American lives lost became a second priority, and wrongfully so.
Annie Nguyen is a first-year political sciences major. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.