Listening to the questions from Republicans questioning Hillary Clinton, it’s hard not to step back and ask what it is they’re even trying to prove or what their point is. The lines of questions are disjointed and they’re pressing points she either freely concedes (yes, it was terrible and she’s ultimately responsible) or the point of which isn’t even clear (why did Sid Blumenthal send you so many emails?). It’s not going well for the committee at all. What’s most revealing about the testimony so far is that they definitely get that: they know it’s going badly for them. And that’s led to a rather churlish and defensive tone to the whole proceeding that’s further deflated any sense that this is more than a clown show where the clowns are struggling.
As I’ve now said several times, it’s a world of difference that this happening post-McCarthy and not pre-McCarthy. The questions wouldn’t necessarily have been different. The arguments from the GOP would not have been any better. But now the assumption from the press is that Hillary is on the upswing (both in her poll numbers and on the ‘Benghazi’ question) and the committee members are on the defensive. At least to a degree, she’s been vindicated in this whole drama and the committee has been discredited.
If that weren’t the case, whatever the fairness or the logic of the questions, the press would have seen the whole drama through the prism of Hillary’s on-going undoing. Whether it was fair or made sense would be secondary.
But with a different governing narrative the whole things looks different. There’s a very different sense of who’s winning and losing and that sense has taken root with Hillary and the committee Republicans themselves, which just magnifies the effect.
Because of all this, Republican committee members just seemed pissed because this was supposed to be awesome – after all, a committee designed to bring down Hillary and circulate all those numskull conspiracy theories about Chris Stevens wearing a chest cam and how President Obama was watching everything happening live on his iPhone. Hillary’s yet to get at all flustered and has even had the opportunity to gently explain to Republican members how the State Department works. She looks poised; they’re radiating spittle.
It all doesn’t help that Chairman Gowdy is such a comical figure. But the real thing is that they’re having their big moment – HILLARY ON THE STAND!!! – just as their credibility is collapsing. She’s making them regret this is even happening.