This seems like an important moment. Secretary Clinton, today, put down Senator Ron Johnson's (R-WI). She did it hard, memorably, appropriately, accurately, without emotion and with great poise, directness and force. Or as the Tea Party set would say, in a hysterical fit.
In a Senate Judiciary Committee hearing today, Senator Johnson confronted Secretary Clinton over the Benghazi consulate assault using a Tea Party conspiracy theory that U.N. Ambassador, Susan Rice, engaged in a cover-up about the connection between the assault and organized terrorist elements. Senator Johnson represented to believe that high level government officials like Ambassadors, cabinet Secretaries and even the President should have immediately called the known survivors of the attack to find out what had caused the Benghazi assault. Secretary Clinton carefully explained to Senator Johnson that when criminals, even terrorists, attack consular personnel or property, there is a legal procedure in which the State Department refers investigation to, duh, the Federal Bureau of Investigation.
Notwithstanding Secretary Clinton's clear explanation, Senator Johnson rudely and repeatedly interrupted her to ask why nobody made "a simple phone call" to the survivors of the attack that would supposedly have allowed Ambassador Rice to receive more accurate talking points before she appeared on the immediately following Sunday talk shows.
Out in Wingnuttia, it's all about the CT that Obama and Clinton wanted to cover-up the fact that terrorists (whatever the hell that means) assaulted the Benghazi consulate but got tripped up by the Republican watchdogs. Remember during the 2nd Presidential Debate when Governor Romney challenged President Obama about not calling the Benghazi attack terrorism for weeks afterward, and got gutted for his trouble? Senator Johnson was using a different shovel but still moving the same wing nut BS.
Barbara Morrill has post on the front page this evening about Senator Johnson's exchange with Secretary Clinton. I had read about it, but until I saw the video in that post, I'm not sure I appreciated the possible importance of the exchange. Secretary Clinton seemed to me to have chosen her words very carefully.
She asked the Senator what difference it made. That's a very provocative and aggressive challenge. I liked it. I've put a few more thoughts about the importance of what she said out in the tall grass, along with some other goodies. Follow along if you want to discuss it some more.
First, here is the video and a link to the transcript:
Secretary Clinton's decisive words were:
With all due respect, the fact is we had four dead Americans. Was it because of a protest or was it because of guys out for a walk one night who decided that they’d they go kill some Americans? What difference at this point does it make?
What difference does it make? It is a put down as effective, rhetorically, at least, as the legendary challenge to red baiting Wisconsin Senator (Coincidence? You decide.) Joe McCarthy, "Have you no sense of decency?" Today, it did, in fact, shut down the current Senator from Wisconsin who immediately yielded without being called for time.
Is difference the new change? What difference? Make a difference. our differences define us.
Difference can be a powerful frame.
On the other side of the same coin, it is good optics for public officials to be seen as making a difference. No one defends the status quo. But change is a little stale now. So, if not change, we need leaders who will campaign to make a difference. Things are not going to stay the same. It's not about makers and takers, but it is about leaders and difference makers and those who get in their way. .
The Senator said, "What difference at this point does it make?" I want to hear a lot more of that kind of challenge to the inanity that leaks out of the right wing bubble into the air that the rest of us must breath. A very strong, versatile and politically useful word: difference. As useful as a political theme as "change", only different.