Josh Marshall

Josh Marshall is editor and publisher of TalkingPointsMemo.com.

Articles by Josh

We thought we wouldn't have Sen. David Vitter to kick around anymore? Good lord, this is quite a story. If you know politics, you know you can't put anything past the novelesque and often delicious nonsense that goes on in Louisiana. But this is good stuff even for the Big Easy and it brings in the mix of malevolence and desperate incompetence of Fargo. Anyway, let's go to the tape - literally.

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The reviews appear to be unanimous. For Republican committee members, yesterday's aggressively-billed, epic, hinge-of-history interrogation of Hillary Clinton was something ranging from a catastrophe to, as The Washington Examiner's Byron York put it, "a bust." Erick Erickson called it a "waste of time." It went downhill from there.

Obsessing about Clinton's friend who didn't seem to have anything to do with anything was either bemoaned or ridiculed across the board. I saw it as more than anything the GOP committee members' long, desperate twilight struggle to find out what they were even trying to talk about. The mission was not successful. Though they left it all on the field ... of battle.

I think it wasn't just a no news event and thus by definition good news for Hillary, as Byron put it. I think it was a good deal more.

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TPM Reader BA checked in mid-day about the events on Capitol Hill ...

Re: "It helps her", I think I would add that it's hard for me to imagine any of the Democrats running against Hillary pulling this off as well.

As an active Democrat who has remained, thus far, undecided, her performance here and at the debate have gone a long way toward convincing me to support Clinton instead of Sanders; even though, politically, my ideals line up more closely with Sanders' democratic socialism than Clinton's quasi-third way centrism.

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I think Sen. Reid and those other Senators are right that it would probably be appropriate for the RNC to pick up the tab for the millions spent by Trey Gowdy's 'Benghazi committee'. But in fairness, probably fair for the DNC to pick up the bill for day's event.

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.

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I must say, I think this whole engagement helps Hillary. Whatever else you can say about Hillary Clinton, she knows her stuff. She's a pro. It's very hard to imagine any of the Republicans presidential candidates being able to roll with this kind of questioning, or have even remotely this range of knowledge. For her interlocutors here, who mainly come off as jokes, and for the whole GOP caucus, you can see why they just couldn't and can't forgive Kevin McCarthy for his goof. He really screwed the pooch.

Is it just me or is this Rep. Susan Brooks (R-IN) just as dumb as a post? This is really the best they have? Email stacks?

So far at least it's kind of embarrassing what the Republicans have managed to come up with. But this is very important to add. It is difficult to overstate just how big a deal it is that these hearings happened after the Kevin McCarthy goof rather than before. The entire climate is different. The general emphasis of all recent press has been less on Clinton and the largely (but not entirely) bogus issues about her email server and almost all on whether the the committee is a political enterprise. That doesn't mean that everyone agrees that it is. But even the committee's most ardent defenders are arguing now on that ground. That makes the reaction to every engagement - albeit largely at the level of second tier talk radio - come off very, very differently.

So Rep. Roskam appears to have pretty well nailed down the fact that Clinton was Secretary of State, whatever denials she may have made notwithstanding.

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