Were the unusually contentious attacks by Republican lawmakers on Secretary of Sate Hillary Clinton during House and Senate hearings Wednesday a reflection of their conviction that she is responsible for the deaths of four Americans in Benghazi last September 11 or were they really attempts to chip away at the popularity of the person they see as the greatest threat to their ambition of winning the White House in 2016?
Republican politicians and their media allies seemed to try to blame her for the deaths of the four Americans though mismanagement of embassy security, conducting a cover-up afterwards and then faking the flu to avoid testifying before the Congress. Clinton reminded them that Republicans blocked administration requests to increase funding for diplomatic protection.
Freshman Sen. Ron Johnson (R-WI) was unusually contentious, and Rand Paul (R-KY), who is said to have presidential ambitions of his own, said if he were the chief executive he’d have fired her.
Look for some of these Republican attacks to show up as sound bites three years from now if Clinton – as many Republicans fear and Democrats hope – runs for president. A new Washington Post/ABC polls shows Clinton enjoys a job approval rating of 67 percent, compared to 19 percent for the Congress. Nearly one in four Republicans and two thirds of Independents think she’s doing a good job. A Gallup Poll last month found she is the most admired woman in the world.
Clinton’s clash with congressional Republicans — which came on the day we learned the Pentagon plans to permit women to serve in combat roles — “had the feeling of a Hummer colliding with a Smart Car,” observed the Washington Post’s Dana Milbank.