The Message


Two points Secretary Clinton is making here. One pretty clearly, another more subtly. The first is that the Benghazi attack was nothing new under the sun. These tragic incidents happen all the time. In recent decades there have been attacks on US diplomatic facilities and US diplomats where the death tolls were vastly higher. Diplomats and what they do are most vital precisely in the least stable settings, dangerous places where people and yes diplomats get killed.

The other point is inevitably more couched. But it’s something that has always hovered over the Republicans’ efforts to politicize the Benghazi tragedy.

And that’s this: There’s a supreme irony in how the likes of Trey Gowdy and the other jokers have made Chris Stevens into some sort of martyr for their cause. Because everything we know about Chris Stevens, his professional history, his priorities, interests and values tells us that probably he as much as anyone would have been disgusted with Republicans’ cynical exploitation of this tragic event.

The other part of equation that comes out in the questioning and back and forth is that by and large Republicans have a generalized contempt not just for diplomacy but for the State Department specifically. This is hardly a controversial point. They say it again and again themselves. To put it baldly, a lot of these guys see what the State Department does as wussy work. The real stuff gets done at the Pentagon. And the result of that belief is that a lot of them just don’t know that much about what diplomats even do: the risks they routinely face, how they mitigate risks, what exactly they’re trying to accomplish and so forth. It comes out again and again in the questions.