Why Republicans Aren’t Attacking Hillary Clinton over Benghazi

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Chip Somodevilla / Getty Images

President Barack Obama heads back into the Oval Office after making a statement about the death of U.S. ambassador to Libya J. Christopher Stevens with Secretary of State Hillary Clinton in the Rose Garden at the White House in Washington, DC., on Sept. 12, 2012.

On Sunday’s talk shows, Republicans remained indignant about Joe Biden‘s statement in last week’s debate that “we did not know” about requests for more security to protect the U.S. consulate in Benghazi shortly before the attack that killed Ambassador Chris Stevens and three other Americans. The White House has clarified that Biden was not talking about the entire Obama Administration, but the White House itself, which seems an entirely reasonable position. But senior Romney adviser Ed Gillespie was not buying that line when pressed by Fox’s tenacious Chris Wallace:

WALLACE: What about — what about the argument that you just heard from David Axelrod, when he said “we”, he meant the president and the vice president. And, even the White House, and, quite frankly, there is no reason that they would have heard that people were asking for more security in Libya. That is not something that would rise to the presidential level.
GILLESPIE: Well, first of all, you know, I guess we’ll accept that explanation. “We” generally means your administration, when you are talking as the president or vice president of the United States, including your State Department.

And clearly what we saw here this morning and what we have been seeing is an effort by President Obama and Vice President Biden to say, no, it was really Secretary Clinton. It was the State Department that you ought to be looking at and talking to and criticizing here or questioning here as opposed to us in the White House.

GILLESPIE: I’m not sure that that’s sustainable, frankly. I think that the buck does stop at the — in the Oval Office.

This debate is strange on a couple of levels. One is the simple logic of it. Why is it not “sustainable” for the White House to say it was unaware of a bureaucratic fight over security at a second-tier diplomatic site? It seems overwhelmingly plausible, and it’s hard to imagine most voters would disagree.

Even stranger, however, is the position Republicans have adopted of defending Hillary Clinton. The Secretary of State has been an archvillain of Republican campaigns for decades now. And when it comes to the debate over security in Benghazi, it would seem that the buck should stop with her. But suddenly it doesn’t suit the GOP to attack Clinton. Her approval ratings are sky-high. Romney already has a problem with female voters. And Hillary’s not on the ballot this November. The GOP wants to concentrate its political attacks on Obama, even at the cost of sounding nonsensical.

(PHOTOS: Political Pictures of the Week, Oct. 5–11)

The Benghazi security debate is really a proxy for something larger anyway. Republicans don’t argue that Obama was somehow indifferent or incompetent when it came to protecting Chris Stevens. They say that the Libya attack illustrated the “unraveling” of Obama’s larger foreign policy. As Joe explains well, that thesis doesn’t make much sense either.

But all that may be beside the point. At his infamous “47%” fundraiser, Romney assured a concerned donor that if a foreign policy crisis emerged late in the campaign, “I will work to find a way to take advantage of the opportunity.” And so he has.

Update: The latest on who’s responsible for security in Benghazi.

245 comments
lip11
lip11

Why, because she is already sec. of state, and is not a challenge to John Kerry's possible nomination to be Sec of state.  However, if Rice is appointed, Kerry will state senator in MA, blocking a chance for the republicans to try to run scott brown again as MA senator.  If Rice's nomination is torpedoed by republicans, then Kerry vacates senate seat - a republican hope.

ChikuMisra
ChikuMisra

this whole phony outcry by the loser republicans, who will never win another presidential election again because this country is now the truly multi-colored tapestry and rich melting pot of people it was always supposed to be........is the dumbest thing ever.  news flash, idiot republicans, the middle east is full of savages who enjoy killing for its own sake.  it's always been this way and always will be.  so the fact that four americans were killed in a cauldron of hate, rage, and violence like the middle east is, though definitely tragic as is any premature and unnecessary death hastened by violence..........it's neither surprising nor remotely the fault of the president.  the loser republicans must be incredibly desperate if this is the best they can come up with against the president.  the president is a good and decent man, but he is not god and can't change that folks in the middle east "love death more than you love life", to use one of their favorite mottos.

the republicans are just mad because there will never be another white president of this country again, ha ha ha.  the next president will be hispanic.  probably that castro fellow, no not the bearded old man in cuba.  the era when you needed to spend decades in congress clawing your way up or in the statehouse of one the majors......is gone.  now, it's more than enough to be articulate, charming, handsome, and a person of color.  if you just got these 4 down, and find a good opening like my boy barry did in illinois (how the heck did a state senator who couldn't even get into the house of reps in 2000, get elected to senate 4 years later, that is weird) then you are 80 percent of the way to the white house.  having said that, i have always thought he is a kind and good-hearted fellow and must be doing ok if the most the repugnant repubs can come up with is this benghazi gibberish.

thequeenbee9
thequeenbee9

this would have been much more powerful, if when I turned to the article, only this line had appeared :

"Because  she is white and a female" it would have caused a firestorm and lots of posts would have been flying--but the ramifications and implications would have been obvious. 

dsmboarder
dsmboarder

Would conservatives please answer me this: What possible motive is there for a cover-up? Obama and the white house dont personally oversee every one of our hundreds of embassys and couldnt have possibly known about the security issues of just one of them. This issue is a pathetic attempt by Romney to gain political points just before an election. Romney blamed Obama within hours of it happening... before anyone even knew what had happened. What does that tell you?

beckylyall
beckylyall

You are quite wrong. We are saying that Obama was both indifferent and incompetent. Nice try.

Ryan Spoon
Ryan Spoon

testing the comment system which seems really great

Ryan Spoon
Ryan Spoon

testing the comment system which is really, really great 

Mikado Cat
Mikado Cat

Three kinds of lies, regular lies, dam lies, and statistics. Nothing has changed politically in 200 or maybe 2000 years.

Romney and Ryan have a good chance to cut the deficit and put America back on its feet.

Obama and Biden couldn't do it if they had 40 more years to try.

radsenior
radsenior

They will seen as attacking Hillary and she will fight back in spades. They thnk they'll do b etter by attacking the president. They have no ideas except making this Libyan issue into a political pressure. They will do all they can to shut down the president's positive spin. The father of Christopher Stephens, the United States ambassador who was killed in the attack in Libya last month, said Saturday that it would be "abhorrent" for his son's death to be politicized in the presidential campaign.

Mikado Cat
Mikado Cat

Take your pick, incompetent, or lying, or maybe both?

On 9/11 CNN knew the demonstration in Egypt was being led by the brother of the Blind Sheikh seeking his release. They filmed the whole thing, including interviewing the brother and broadcast it in Canada, but not in the USA.

On 9/11 as the attack began the security officer in the TOC of the Benghazi consulate was on the phone reporting the details of the attack and asking for help.

On 9/12 the Obama administration, including Hillary started a full on cover up claiming spontaneous response to the video from June was to blame, and continued with that lie until even the Team Obama press couldn't stomach it.

Why such a huge and obvious lie? What is it the Obama administration is still not telling us about Benghazi?

When will the press start doing its job, or do we need to wait for it to show up on Wikileaks?

Michael
Michael

I have been reading various comments in various places on the internet. I have been as guilty as others at continuing to spread rumors, rumors that I believe to be true but have no proof. I am a conservative and republican and this likely won't change. I guess what I would like to say is that those of us who are making accusations need to take a step back and realize that the very vast majority of the people in the country outside of the media (as far as I can tell all media is biased one way or the other) and politics want at least 90% the same thing. As americans we value hard work, giving of service to others, helping out those who need our help, making a good living. We also want healthcare for ourselves but even moreso for our children. We simply want to be happy and while some of us enjoy being involved in various things, most of us would prefer not to be pulled into politics or other things we don't have interest in.

Unfortunately this election has caused a significant amount of polarizing of the way people think. It has also led a number of us (me included) to think of "our candidate" can do no wrong. Obviously this is not the case on either side.

I think that this election is significant on both sides of the political spectrum but it is important that we strive to remember that we are a group of people with primarily similar values, traits, and characteristics with only a couple of differences. Lets not focus on the differences but on the similarities and continue to build this nation into the best that we can.

Scott1204T
Scott1204T

The republicans are not attacking the iron lady because their aimes are a black man they're out to lynch, yes they are lynching a black man . G iven all the money, evidences this is the type of election they're spearheading.

Alan4Right
Alan4Right

How is it that Hillary now says the "buck stops with her" yet in 2008 when GW was President she was quoted to say "the buck stops at the White House". I guess she gets a free pass just like Obama to say whatever works best for the situation. It would be interesting if Time and the rest of the liberal media would actually ask some serious questions.

Magik13
Magik13

First, when has the Republican party ever not sounded "nonsensical"? There is nothing logical or reasonable about any of the Republican's dysfunctional and deluded world view. 

Republicanism is nothing but codified and politicized narcissism. Narcissists are attracted to the Republican party like bees are to honey. 

Delusion and skewed perception are characteristic of narcissism and hence Republicans. Fear and paranoia are also hallmarks of this epidemic soul disease. Everything the Republicans do is based in fear and paranoia. This is the party that  invaded Watergate Headquarters during Nixon's term. This is the party that rushed the USA into a useless and costly war in Iraq on fear, suspicion, paranoia, and innuendo. 

After Obama serves his next 4 years as President, it will be Hillary in 2016.  This causes the Republican criminals to shake in their boots. 

bob7510
bob7510

New York Slimes, attack the Republicans defend the Liberals. It's entirely reasonable that the President did not get a security update on Libya? A second tier-diplomatic site? This was his foriegn policy adventure. The Red Cross pulled out, other missions were attacked, Stevens asking for more security and Obama claiming success in Libya.  Does anyone really believe the President wasn't  given updates on Libya. This is why the media has no credibility and the Times is going bankrupt.

wally simon
wally simon

Interesting analysis here.

Bush was apparently responsible for Abu Ghraib.....  and for torture....   as though the buck should stop at the top---for issues even down to prison treatment.

 But Embassy attacks, and the intelligence that surrounds the murder of an Ambassador, and his security, is now within reason to stop below the Oval office.

  Guys?  You sure your analysis, is obective?

smokeys48
smokeys48

Mr. Crowley,

I think the answer to your question is obvious.  The administration is all to willing to take "responsibility" for things when they turn out well (Bin Laden) but can't run away fast enough when they turn out bad (Libya).  Or, in other words, 'It's Bush's fault.'  The man brings it on himself. 

Mike Hammer
Mike Hammer

The buck doesn't stop in my pocket.  Obama wants all "bucks" to stop in the government's pocket!

Chuck Morrison
Chuck Morrison

What amazes me is that there were 3 previous attacks against US and British compounds, to include throwing bombs into the compounds and the President was not made aware of the situation.  I find this hard to believe.

ncindependentvoter1
ncindependentvoter1

Try as you might, you cannot exonerate Barack Obama on this one.  I love this quote: "The White House has clarified that Biden was not talking about the entire Obama Administration, but the White House itself, which seems an entirely reasonable position."

Reasonable?  OK, for just a minute, I am going to accept your entire arguement.  Hillary is at fault, the White House had no idea about any of it prior to 9/11, and was caught completely off guard.  Fine.  Now answer me this:  We knew on 9/12 that this was not about a video.  13 DAYS LATER, BARACK OBAMA gave a speech to the UN that made me embarrassed to be represented by this man.  You can claim they didn't know prior to 9/11, you can claim that they didn't know 5 days later when Susan Rice began her BS shoveling operation (shovel-ready job for her?), BUT YOU CANNOT CONVINCE ME BARACK OBAMA DIDN'T KNOW 13 DAYS LATER while standing at the UN.  His speech was a lie to the American People, and to the entire world, and he made us look stupid.  I am tired of this administration blaming all its failures on everyone but Obama.  If you believe this, then there is no accountability for the office of president, period.  I guarantee he knew it while being interviewed by Univision, but continued to lie to all latino-americans, the same way he lied about immigration reform and talked down to them as if they need a civics lesson.  This is part of a pattern of lies.  First he said he would make immigration reform a priority in his first year, then shelved it until year 4.   He had both houses of congress for 2 years, and could've passed it without a single Republican vote, so blaming that on Repubs is just another "not my fault" lie.  Then he said "I can't just unilaterally do something about immigraion reform...it takes cooperation from congress to accomplish that" in an interview later.  It didn't seem to stop him from doing that very thing in his 4th year when he needed to dupe latino voters into trusting him again.  This guy needs to go, and we'll make it happen on Nov 6th!

loki2009
loki2009

Amazing.  So the Republicans took control of the House in 2010, and since that time have eliminated $800 million from the State Department's budget including $397 million from the security budget in 2011 alone - and somehow the declining security levels are the President's fault and that of his administration.  These Republicans have absolutely no conscience.  And the people are blind - either by guile or intentionally.

Diane Elder
Diane Elder

Sure. it's perfectly reasonable that the Commander in Chief couldn't be bothered with a plea for help from his Ambassador to one of the world's hot spots. Is that above his pay grade?

Susie McDonnell
Susie McDonnell

Bullshit.  Republicans have handled Hillary with kinder gloves ever since 2008 -- when they recognized the press was treating her as unfairly as they would a GOP candidate.   I worked on her campaign.  I watched Dems throw her under the bus for Obama.  I watched the Dems call her a racist.  Call her just a wife.  I watched only the Repubs defend her.  I watched how Fox News (of all stations) was the only one that treated her fairly.  You're premise is ridiculous.  If, God-willing, Hillary survives the past 6 years and is able to run in 2016 it will be DESPITE the DNC and reporters like you -- and in partial thanks to the RNC.  

Mike Hammer
Mike Hammer

Ever notice that when people complain about Obama,  they don't throw the word "Democrat" in the conversation.  But anyone that dis-agrees with obama, Obama supporters verbally insult the republicans as a whole in their conversation's? Is that prejudice? or just ignorance?

For a man who claimed to unite the people of America, He sure does insult anyone that isn't a Democrat.

Figjam_US
Figjam_US

...kind of a silly article - unless you have been living under a rock for the last 4-years it is abundantly clear why republicans are not hammering Hillary -

...for you who have just come out from being under that "rock" - she isn't running for President...

PeoplesCommonGround
PeoplesCommonGround

Congress voted against intervening in Libya, yet Obama used executive privilege to go. He put Congress in a bad position to have to unwind things already in progress. Obama used politics to get us invilved in Libya, and now that things have backfired, he has pretended to not know anything, and not be involved. THIS IS NOT LEADERSHIP.

St. John Wyatt
St. John Wyatt

How blind you are.  The last two years of GW is where the MAJORITY of the deficits came from.

Who controlled congress' purse strings?  Dumocrats.

PeoplesCommonGround
PeoplesCommonGround

Why cant this administration, and the press, ask and answer the question: Why are we in Libya and what is our strategy there. related to the overall Middle East strategy? To ask, then answer that question goes a long way to defining WHY OBAMA IS CULPABLE.

Mike Hammer
Mike Hammer

The issue is that the white house tried to blame this on a video.  Spent tax payers going around the world claiming this.   When they know that is had nothing to do with this.  For a guy who promise transparency.  ??? So either Obama Knew the truth and lied or he didn't care enough to find out. I'm not sure what is worst?

Also , Everyone is forgetting the fact. This was an ambassador that was killed!!!! Our own government can't protect? Also, there where 2 other attacks prior to this one.

ChingatchCroute
ChingatchCroute

Hah! We finally get some "transparency" from  the Obama regime...

Anyone with a pulse can see right through this obvious election ploy to deflect blame from their inept "dear leader ". Who started the whole Libya fiasco? OBAMA!

TxSagebrush
TxSagebrush

Is Barack Obama president?   Or is Hillary Clinton?  So, who is running foreign policy?

Where does the buck stop?  In 2008, Hillary said the buck stops with the president......has she now changed her mind?   And where does Obama think the buck stops?

ncindependentvoter1
ncindependentvoter1

OK so now it's Hillary's fault.  So what.  The issue here is not really whether or not the White House knew ahead of time or not.  TheREAL ISSUE is that 13 days after this happened, BARACK OBAMA continued the cover up on the international stage by giving a speech to the UN full of BS.  For the sake of argument, and to agree with the author of this story (not that I do, but let's see them double talk their way out of this), let's assume the White House really had no idea on 9/11 that security was ever requested.  SO WHAT!  They certainly knew 5 days later when Susan Rice was out ther spreading BS.  Barack certainly knew before the Univision interview, but continued to spout BS.  The entire world knew it before the UN speech 13 DAYS LATER, but they continued the cover up.  It's the LYING DIRECTLY TO THE ENTIRE WORLD that is the real issue, much more so than who knew what before 9/11/12.  The author of this article is just another liberal that is now steaming mad that they thought they could succesfully exonerate Barack Obama by publicly sacrificing Hillary Clinton.  The deflection technique isn't working, so he attacks Republicans over it to try to get it to work.  NOBODY IS FOOLED by this diversion crap.  The president has been caught in a lie, and no amount of blaming it on Hillary, Biden, etc. is going to change that.  I am beyond sick of this administraion blaming everything they do on everyone else.  t's time for a change on Nov 6TH!

Keith Jones
Keith Jones

By this logic, it was unfair to attack Pres. Bush for the government's mishandling of the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina. If you want to blame Bush when FEMA screwed up, then you have blame Obama when the State Dept screws up. According to Crowley, the buck only stops at the President when it is a Republican President, but Democratic Presidents can't be expected to know what is going on below them.

Terry Turner
Terry Turner

Wow! what a spin. Repubs recognized the tire treads on Hillary's back. It is blaming it on a video that is the responsibility of the cardboard president.

Jennifer Reidy
Jennifer Reidy

HC is also being attacked, and should resign if she is entirely to blame. Honestly, I think it's difficult for individuals (the level-headed folks on both sides) to fathom that the POTUS didn't know what was going on w/ a US consulate in Libya. There was real-time contact! First we hear falsehoods of videos and protests, and days later the WH still doesn't have the story?! No one wanted to say the words "terror attack" with an election right around the corner.

Shame on the administration for considering Americans naive fools. It's evident HC fell on the sword so Obama could save face and continue damage control for his campaign.

Stephen Smith
Stephen Smith

What Troy said.  And this article misses the point that Obama and the administration lied to the American people about what happened.  Why is that not an important issue?

Billy  Bob
Billy Bob

Hillary falls on the sword killingher chance to run for president . Elephants never forget.  Who sits in the big chair Hilary or Obama the buck always stops with the president of course if you are Obama he just passes the buck or prints another one .

I call bullshit on the Benghazi affair stooping withe the secretary of state. Mr Terror Tuesday assassination as foreign policy president wants us to believe he has his fingers personally around the throat of the terrorist problem every pulse of the  he is ready to quash with drones or his seal team six henchmen. Bullshit it was Hillary's call.

thequeenbee9
thequeenbee9

Why didn't Bush heed all the prior warnings about 9/11?  Only 3000+ people in the country and later, 2 ongoing wars and hundreds of thousands dead due to HIS indifference and incompetency are at issue there.

thequeenbee9
thequeenbee9

This "polarization did not begin with Obama or even bush though Bush widen the schism and redefined "human decency" it began with the witch hunt of Clinton--the cracks and the attitudes of the GOP vs the rest of America began then and only have widen as each side has chafed under the wins  and choices and actions of the other side--until we have team GOP and Team Dems as if this all is a game and the rest of us are sports fans.

redacted
redacted

A respectful tip of the hat for your attitude, Michael.

I sincerely recommend the article 'The Fiscal Legacy of George W. Bush', by Bruce Bartlett. He's a Republican that worked for Presidents Reagan and Bush (1) , as well as Congressman Ron Paul.

I doubt that outside links are allowed, but any search engine should call it right up.

I'm a Democrat, btw - but I never depend on press releases or propaganda for my political education. Like you, I want to get to the truth (or as close as one can get to it).

Anyway... Best of luck to you, and thanks for taking the time to write a great comment.

smokeys48
smokeys48

 Thank you for your well-reasoned response that used facts and logic and did not resort to partisan name-calling, unsupported assumptions, and sweeping generalizations. 

AlexVallas
AlexVallas

Learn to read.  A request was made for more security in Tripoli and not in Benghazi.  The decisions regarding security are made at the State Department and they take many issues into consideration.  To think that the President is kept informed of all the requests for additional security or personnel in hundred of embassies and consulates is absurd.  That would be micromanagement at its worse.  It is very easy to blame people in retrospect.  We love the Monday Morning Quarterbacks who have all the answers.  

thequeenbee9
thequeenbee9

When The GOP gives Bush the responsibility for failing to heed 9/11 warnings AND for lying to start 2 wars--we can talk--until then the GOP is fishing and it is obvious they are looking for a "Gotcha moment on Obama as if their moment will be bought by the Ameican people. It is all they have since Obama neither smokes cigars or appears to be a horndog.

redacted
redacted

Sorry wally, but that's sophistry - for exactly the reason Alex mentioned.

AlexVallas
AlexVallas

Vast difference between the torture of prisoners and the security of a consulate.  Get real. 

redacted
redacted

Except of course, that that's the exact opposite of what the President said.

Truth? Who cares about truth, right?

You should be better than that, 'Mike'.

For anyone interested in an honest account of the President's position on this:

"Secretary Clinton has done an extraordinary job. But she works for me.

I'm the president and I'm always responsible, and that's why nobody's

more interested in finding out exactly what happened than I do.

The day after the attack, governor, I stood in the Rose Garden and I

told the American people in the world that we are going to find out

exactly what happened. That this was an act of terror and I also said

that we're going to hunt down those who committed this crime.

And then a few days later, I was there greeting the caskets coming into Andrews Air Force Base and grieving with the families.

And the suggestion that anybody in my team, whether the Secretary

of State, our U.N. Ambassador, anybody on my team would play politics or

mislead when we've lost four of our own, governor, is offensive. That's

not what we do. That's not what I do as president, that's not what I do

as Commander in Chief."

Mike Spinner
Mike Spinner

There's a problem with this loki, Obama ran on a promise to cut the deficit in half....Plus Bush is part of the history books which hopefull Oblamo will be too.

WallaceWWright
WallaceWWright

You mean like how Bush lied about there being "bomb making" trucks driving around Iraq making nuclear weapons? Or the nuclear weapons Iraq had on top the mobile bomb trucks?Or that terrorists were aligned with Iraq?

redacted
redacted

Well said (again), Alex.

Also worth noting are the deep cuts to the State Department budget by the same Republicans leading the 'charge' on these specious partisan attacks; Issa and Chaffetz.

Embarrassing display of hypocrisy/dishonesty on the part of the House Republicans.

wally simon
wally simon

 wallace

exactly!!  He was not a good President because of that.  Correct?

So, why do you bring this up?  Are you saying that since Bush lied, and he was disliked, that we should somehow approve of Obama?  

 How about this:  develop a sense of right and wrong.  And then do not adjust for who is doing the right and wrong thing.

  Lying?  Wrong?  _Then bush and obama are both wrong.    Accumulation of debt?  Wrong?  Yep, ok, so you can say that Bush was expansionary government, and that is why he lost the confidence of the electorate.  But, its the same for Obama.  This is not a school yard fight, where, the 6 year old says "well he was doing it too!!"    This is about right and wrong.