Hillary Clinton and Benghazi: Politics of Personal Destruction Redux

President Obama and then-Secretary of State Hillary Clinton honor the Benghazi victims at the Transfer of Remains Ceremony on September 14, 2012.

Bill Clinton wants everyone to hush with the Hillary talk.

It’s a waste of time, he says.

“She’s taking a role in the foundation, she’s writing books, she’s having a little fun being a private citizen for the first time in 20 years,” Clinton said this week during the Peter G. Peterson Foundation’s 2013 Fiscal Summit in Washington. “We need to be worried about the work at hand. All of us do. So whoever the next president is has an easier set of choices.”

Clinton is a complex man. Maybe he doesn’t want Hillary garnering all the limelight. Remember her 2008 White House run when he basically sabotaged Hillary on the campaign trail? Or maybe Clinton knows that the more attention Hillary gets, the more the GOP will target her. In fact, the Republicans already have Hillary on their radar. That’s why Benghazi is back in the news.

Before last November, Republicans desperately tried to link President Obama to the attack on the U.S. diplomatic mission in Benghazi. They thought it would cost him the election. Now, a GOP-led Congressional investigation is focused on Hillary, shifting blame onto her for the death of U.S. Ambassador J. Christopher Stevens and three others.

“I think the dam is about to break on Benghazi,” South Carolina Republican Sen. Lindsey O. Graham wrote on his Facebook page Tuesday . “We’re going to find political manipulation seven weeks before an election. We’re going to find people asleep at the switch when it comes to the State Department, including Hillary Clinton.”

He even compared Benghazi to Watergate, an era Hillary knows well.

On Tuesday, Pat Smith, the mother of one of the state department officials killed in Benghazi, blamed Hillary in an interview on CNN. “She’s supposed to be on top of it, and yet she claims that she knows nothing, that it wasn’t told to her. Well, who — who is running the place?”

The Republicans have used this playbook many times previously, and it is exhausting.

In 1992, they tried to undermine Bill Clinton’s White House run by trotting out a parade of his past infidelities. (We know that won’t work at all in 2012 – just look at Mark Sanford’s victory in South Carolina.) Once the Clintons were in the White House, the Republicans launched battles on many fronts –Travelgate, Whitewater and then they found the golden ticket to impeachment with Monica Lewinsky.

But that didn’t work, did it? Clinton, though impeached, remained in the White House. And the Dems even managed to pick up congressional seats during the impeachment saga.

In 2008, Rush Limbaugh told his listeners to vote for Hillary over Obama to draw out the primary battle. His reasoning was that it made Republican nominee John McCain stronger. Granted, Hillary didn’t run the best campaign in political history, but she won’t make the same mistakes again.

The Clintons are the poster children for the politics of personal destruction, a phrase Bill Clinton popularized during impeachment. They play the game better than anyone. Sure, it’s important to get to the bottom of Benghazi, but didn’t that already happen in January when Hillary testified about it in her swan song as Secretary of State? She came out of that six-hour grilling looking more like Athena than a cowed woman.

Since 2010, the Republicans have waged a war on women, attempting to restrict women’s rights. Now they have decided to focus their war on one woman – Hillary – for the next four years. But her growing army of female fans will be right behind on her on the front lines for the long haul.

Suzi Parker is an Arkansas-based political and cultural journalist and author of “Sex in the South: Unbuckling the Bible Belt” and “1000 Best Bartender’s Recipes.” She writes frequently for Reuters, TakePart, and numerous other publications. Follow her on Twitter at @SuziParker.

(Image source: Wikimedia Commons.)

  • The Republicans know that, by and large, their constituents have short memories All they need to do to get their own elected and re-elected is to blame the Democrats for everything. It takes the focus off their own and thereby giving yet another shot at determining the fate of the country to slime balls like Mark Sanford. Mention Sanford to any Republican today and their immediate reaction is: Well, what about Clinton? Sadly, their strategy seems to work.

  • Jimmy

    I think the reporter misses the larger point here. We are talking about a massive failure in responding to an unresolved terror attack that killed a sitting U.S. Ambassador and three others. It’s becoming quite apparent that someone failed to do their jobs, people died, and now people are ducking blame. If Mrs. Clinton is at fault, she should be held accountable. If someone else is at fault, then they should. Simple as that. These victim’s families deserve answers and accountability by someone, anyone. To make it seem like this is just rascally Republicans hating on women is just asinine.

    • @Jimmy- The problem here is… why is the GOP all of a sudden concerned about the loss of US life in a terror attack. We have been at war in the middle east for over a decade. A war started on lies of the Bush Administration. When will they be held accountable for all the lives lost from that?

      • Jimmy

        Danielle, the GOP’s concern has been ongoing since the attack took place. Much of the media has since ignored it until these whistleblowers came forth. This needs to be covered until the people who committed the attack are brought to justice, whoever failed to protect the embassy are held to account, and the story of what happened is explained to the victims’ families. As for the war, I assume you are referring to the one voted for by then-Sen. Clinton, yes?

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