It Takes A Lot Of Nerve

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For a time this morning in the Senate Foreign Relations Committee hearing on Benghazi, it looked like the coming and going of the November elections had taken most of the steam out of Republican senators and their conspiracy theories about Benghazi. Neither their hearts nor their spines seemed that into it. Easier to concoct these theories in the studios of Fox News than to try to score political points in the same room as an equal like Secretary of State Hillary Clinton.

But then Sens. Ron Johnson (R-WI) and Rand Paul (R-KY) had their turns. They went after Clinton hard. You can watch the keys parts of her exchange with Johnson here and with Paul here.

Paul went as far as saying that had he been president he would have fired Clinton, while rattling off a few examples of State Department expenditures that he considers wasteful and frivolous.It needs to be said that Paul doesn’t have much use for the State Department.

In his own budget proposal for 2011, which called for a half a trillion dollars in across the board spending cuts, Paul proposed a $20 billion cut to the State Department. By way of comparison, the State Department’s core budget for the 2013 fiscal year is $43.4 billion. You can see that provision of his budget at the bottom of the page here.

The U.S. security failures in Benghazi were serious. They shouldn’t be downplayed or dismissed. But you don’t have to pretend there wasn’t a State Department failure, in order to conclude that it takes a lot of nerve to sit there and rip a secretary over the decisions made about how and where to deploy security resources when not only is the department chronically underfunded and having to make do, but while you yourself have called for slashing the departments budget by nearly half. That’s not serious. And neither is Paul.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

David Kurtz is Managing Editor and Washington Bureau Chief of Talking Points Memo where he oversees the news operations of TPM and its sister sites.
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