William Katz:  Urgent Agenda

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WEIRD HILLARY – AT 9:01 A.M. ET:  Hillary Clinton testified before Congress yesterday on the Benghazi disaster.  She came prepared, knew her stuff, faced senators who at times seemed less prepared and were often given to speechmaking.  Clinton also knew she would be handled gently by a bought press, which, despite her endless failings, has loved her for years as their candidate to be the first female president.  For the sixties crowd, that counts far more than being a good president.  Witness the media's fawning over the mediocre Obama.

But nothing could hide the reality of Clinton's performance yesterday:  At times she was weird, at other times evasive and deceptive.  Wes Pruden, the crusty old Washington observer of things, has some of the sharpest comments:

The “old” Hillary Rodham Clinton emerged yesterday in the congressional hearings about what happened in Benghazi, and it’s the Hillary image that’s likely to last.

Pressed for the first time to answer sharp public questioning about her part in the episode, she grew angry and combative, more like the Hillary who screamed vulgarities and threw lamps at her husband at the White House than a smooth and accommodating secretary of state.

Occasionally raising her voice to a shout and scream, with her face contorted by something little short of rage, she could barely hold back tears only minutes later. She told the senators that it was the labyrinthine bureaucracy of the State Department — “the fudge factory,” as her predecessors have called it — that was at fault for the evasion, invention and confusion in the several stories put out by the Obama administration in the immediate aftermath of Benghazi.

And...

When Sen. Ron Johnson, Wisconsin Republican, asked why someone hadn’t interviewed survivors of Benghazi before Susan E. Rice, the U.S. ambassador to the United Nations, was sent out to deliberately offer a false account of what happened, Mrs. Clinton exploded with sarcasm.

“With all due respect,” she replied, in a voice that didn’t sound overflowing with respect, “Was it because of a protest or was it because of guys out for a walk one night who decided they’d go kill some Americans, what difference at this point does it make?”

Huh?  What difference does it make?  As several pundits have pointed out, that gem will be used by every political opponent of Clinton in the future.  It makes every difference to know the motivation of your enemy.  But that was Hillary in her "I'm so superior" act.

She drew praise from both friend and old foe as secretary of state, performing flawlessly as the president’s voice abroad. Until Benghazi. Nothing about Benghazi makes anyone in the Obama government look good. The hearings Wednesday in Congress were in all likelihood Hillary’s last hurrah. There was little to hurrah about. It’s how Washington will remember her.

COMMENT:  I wish that were so, but the press is already doing its cover-up of her Oscar-losing performance.  And, of course, if anyone in the future does have the spine to criticize her, the Hillary battalions will denounce the critic as insensitive, anti-woman, and exploiting a tragedy.  We know the game.

We did not see a future president yesterday.  We saw the real Hillary.  She has a history of deception – after 9/11 she gave two different versions of where she was that day – and a history of temper.  She is not presidential.  But will it matter to an adoring nation and an increasingly adolescent electorate?

January 24,  2013