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Star Turn in a Star Chamber -- Clinton Rivals Trudeau and Murphy for Best Week

The Huffington Post The Huffington Post 26/10/2015 Mark Green
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By Mark Green
Katrina Vanden Heuvel of The Nation and Charles C. W. Cooke of The National Review debate if Hillary escaped the gravitational orbit of both 42 and 44 to become a president/commander-in-chief in her own right. Then, the 2012 VP opponents are again news, as one rises and the other exits. The Host boasts about predicting Hillary's win and Joe's withdrawal.
On the Clinton-Benghazi Smackdown. Was it an omen when journalist Annie Karni asked Hillary Clinton a week ago to tell us something new about her and she replied, "I don't sweat." She didn't seem to at the 11 hour Benghazi hearing, but certainly made Trey Gowdy spritz like a pig in a sauna. Based on the Deaver rule of turning off the sound and then asking how a principal did, did she prevail or fail?
Charles C. W. Cooke of The National Review courageously counters the CW by saying that she hurt herself because the forum put her on the defensive on a sensitive issue. (Remember the Atwater rule that "if you're explaining, you're losing.") Katrina, however, lauds her "relentlessly calm, straight-forward, disciplined and enduring performance" and mocks her angry, badgering, "mansplaining" GOP inquisitors. She goes on to plead that the larger issue of the Obama-Clinton aggressive, interventionist foreign policy and problems with the Arab Spring be discussed more in the unfolding campaign.
On the merits of the day's testimony, Charles agrees with Katrina that the "fog of war" explanation is understandable about why the consulate was successfully attacked. But what's unforgivable, in his view, "was the cover-up afterward when they continued to claim that the video was responsible when they knew that it wasn't." And while the hearing "did sound partisan, that's because it's an extremely polarized city. Most of these politicians put their party above our institutions."
Then Katrina helpfully explains who Sidney Blumenthal actually is (journalist, author, Clinton consigliere) and condemns how this hearing ran counter to the history of bi-partisan and fair Hill hearings into major events - e.g., chairs Ervin and Rodino on Watergate. Also, Charles concedes -- as Ponnuru and Podhoretz columns do -- that Clinton is now in the position of being the likely next President, "though it's early."
Host: It's not at all obvious that Clinton misled people after the attack. First, those were CIA Petraeus's talking points that fraught week and Obama of course called it "an act of terror" the next day. Second, what if it was a terrorist attack in part spurred on by the video of riots in Cairo, as a New York Times investigation concluded... as the Arab Spring spread after one event in Tunis.
Last, it was pretty artful when she calmly noted how many previous attacks and deaths there had been involving the diplomatic corps, subtlety leading viewers to wonder why this one was getting such repeat, intense attention? She testified in public for 11 hours under oath after four people tragically died but Bush/Cheney did so privately for an hour not under oath when 3000 died?
On Rhymin' Ryan and Amtrak Joe. In 2012 Rep. Paul Ryan talked about "makers and takers" and this week explained that his party had to be more about "propositon than opposition." (This white dude's a Republican Jesse Jackson.) Was his shift from an Amy Winehouse-ish "no, no, no" to "yes" smart for him and his party?
Cooke thinks so, indeed the entire imbroglio may end up with Republicans having a better leader and being more unified now that Boehner is gone.
But who will have the leverage in a month or year when there's a confrontation over shutting down the government or the debt ceiling? Katrina thinks that the Tea Party Caucus -- oh sorry, the Freedom Caucus -- will hold the cards and leverage so long as the majority keep intact "The Hastert Rule" (which is not that wrestling coaches never again become Speaker but that the Republican leadership will not consider any legislation that doesn't have a majority of its caucus). Charles is non-plussed if government should briefly shut down but admits that not paying U.S. debts is something else.
As for Biden, Katrina points out that "there was really no reason for him to run since Sanders was the favorite of populist Dems and Hillary of establishment Dems and winner of the invisible primary." He made a wise decision, both think.
The Host has a shocking lapse of humility and reminds the panel that a) last August he tweeted that Biden wouldn't run since he had an 8% chance of winning both the nomination and general election yet a 50% chance of being Secretary of State if Clinton won and b) last show predicted that he'd much prefer to be a talented Hillary going into the Benghazi hearing that Gowdy after McCarthy gave away the game.
Is Trump Right about Bush43 and 9/11? Because Democrats have largely shied away from politicizing 9/11 and rarely questioned or investigated the Bush/Cheney performance on terrorism that allowed 9/11 "on their watch," it took an authentically anti-PC candidate like Trump to raise the issue. Basically, the panel agrees it's a double-standard to argue that questioning Obama/Clinton's record before Benghazi is legitimate but not Bush/Cheney's before 9/11.
Cooke makes the point that this is an awful moment for Jeb and the GOP because Trump is singlehandedly forcing his party to relitigate the Iraq War and 9/11 when it should be looking to the future.
Quick Take: Trudeau, Murphy, Clinton.
These three each had amazing weeks, reminiscent of JFK, Babe Ruth and Obama in their heydays. Who would the panel prefer to be if they could choose? Katrina: "Trudeau -- to be so young and full of ideas at the start of a political career." Charles: "Murphy, so I wouldn't have to be a politician."

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