The only coherent purpose I can discern in all of this is to sully Clinton’s record as secretary of state in case she runs for president in 2016. [...]David Rothkopf at CNN chimes in:
Did Clinton’s State Department fail to provide adequate security for the U.S. Consulate in Benghazi? In retrospect, obviously so. But the three diplomats who testified at the hearing gave no evidence that this failure sprang from anything other than the need to use limited resources as efficiently as possible.
House Republicans who voted to cut funding for State Department security should understand that their philosophy — small government is always better — has consequences. Bureaucrats have to make judgment calls. Sometimes they will be wrong.
Rep. Darrell Issa must be ruing his bad luck. The hearing he carefully orchestrated to pick at the scab of Benghazi was stepped on by the verdict in the Jodi Arias murder trial and by the story of three women held captive and brutalized for a decade in Cleveland. He was out-sensationalized and out-tawdried this week despite his own best efforts and those of his committee colleagues and staff members. [...] Nothing spoken of in the hearing suggested a cover-up by a Cabinet secretary, who instantly took personal responsibility for the attacks and swiftly appointed an independent commission led by two of the most distinguished, nonpartisan career civil servants in recent American history to investigate them. To say otherwise is more than a reach. It's an effort by the Republican Party to damage the person most likely to be the next Democratic presidential candidate.Peter Fenn adds:
In the calculus of Washington today, Clinton is a bigger and more valuable target even than her former boss, the president.
Benghazi was a tragedy, a terrible tragedy and because of it a light should be shone on what more can be done to protect those who serve America overseas. What our country does not deserve is a political show trial designed to vilify Hilary Clinton and Barack Obama. What we don't need is a crass partisan effort to influence the 2016 presidential campaign.Head below the fold for more analysis of the day's top stories.
Unlike the 1980s Iran-Contra scandal, there are no questions of illegal acts, no secret funds, no shredding of documents and no efforts to directly circumvent a law passed by Congress. People may forget that 14 administration officials were indicted and 11 convicted as a result of the arms-for-hostages scandal.
Instead, what we have after eight months of investigation, 11 congressional hearings before five committees, 20 staff briefings and 25,000 pages of documents is exactly what we started with: a tragic situation with lessons to be learned, but not a grand conspiracy. It is sad that Rep. Darrell Issa has decided not to conduct a series of hearings to help solve the problems that out diplomats face every day but rather to engage in a partisan, political witch hunt for a conspiracy and cover-up that doesn't exist.
Scott Lilly at US News:
Certainly mistakes were made and careful examination of this tragedy will help identify the corrective actions necessary to make life safer for our diplomatic corps. But the partisan circus that has erupted around the death of these four brave men undercuts such efforts. It does a disservice to our diplomats and to our country.The New York Times editorial board provides its take:
The hearing did not prove anything like an administration cover-up or other hysterical allegations of crimes equal to Watergate that some Republicans, such as Representative Steve King and Senator Lindsey Graham, have alleged. Republicans have held numerous hearings and briefings on Benghazi and are threatening to hold even more. It is a level of interest they did not show during George W. Bush’s administration when there were 64 attacks on American diplomatic targets or in the years they spent cutting back diplomatic security budgets.Stephen Stromberg:
The real scandal is that serious follow-up on security in Libya is going unaddressed. Congress needs to make sure that State Department budgets for personnel and security improvements are sufficient and that security reforms are put in place as soon as possible.
The Senate should move quickly to confirm the ambassador, Deborah Jones, whose hearing was Tuesday.
[I]f their obsession with Benghazi is partly an attempt to render [Clinton] incapable of winning the general election in 2016, the affair won’t do it for them. Or even get close. [...] Clinton... continues to be one of the most-scrutinized people on earth, and, following her time as secretary of state, her reputation remains strong. Even after the attention the right has paid to Benghazi — including demanding she testify to Congress — her approval numbers remain in the 60s. If she runs for president, of course, they wouldn’t stay there. Any residual support among Republicans who have compared her favorably to President Obama will dry up. But that would have happened with or without Benghazi.Switching topics, former White House deputy chief of staff Nancy-Ann DeParle writes about the successes of health insurance reform :
Critics say the law is complex. They are right. When Obama first took office, 51 million Americans were uninsured, premiums had more than doubled in the preceding decade, and insurers could deny coverage to those who needed it most. If easy solutions existed, someone would have found them long ago.Kenneth Thomas, meanwhile, points out that young adults should love the law:
The ACA tackles these problems. It provides near-universal coverage by requiring everyone who can afford coverage to have it; expanding Medicaid for the poorest and subsidizing those who are low-income or whose employers do not provide coverage; and creating online “health insurance marketplaces” where consumers and small businesses can shop for private plans competing on price and quality.
As House Republicans prepare to vote on repealing Obamacare for the umpteenth time, it is important to remember that the Affordable Care Act is working precisely as designed. Last year, 12.8 million Americans received health insurance premium rebates because their insurance company didn't spend enough on actual health care costs (80 percent of premiums in the individual market, 85 percent in the large group market). Children cannot be denied health insurance due to pre-existing conditions, a feature that expands to adults next year.
But the biggest indicator of success is the rapidly falling rate at which young adults aged 19-25, who can now stay on their parents' insurance policies, are uninsured. Via Joan McCarter at Daily Kos, the Commonwealth Fund released the results of its biennial health insurance survey. Although the news wasn't all good, the report shows just how much the Affordable Care Act has worked for young adults.