Here and there was mention it had been a hard week at the State Department. Here and there were questions about security after the attack in Benghazi that resulted in the death of Ambassador Christopher Stevens. And here and there were concessions by Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, implicit or explicit, that something in Libya, and in Egypt, had gone badly wrong. (Just before the events in Libya, protesters had managed to scale the walls of the U. S. Embassy in Cairo, leap into the courtyard, and tear down the American flag.)
To her credit, Clinton appeared appropriately stricken, she announced the creation of a board to investigate what had happend, and she briefed members of Congress. But by and large Clinton has emerged otherwise unscathed, certainly by the liberal media that chose generally to downplay or ignore altogether what by any measure was her ultimate responsibility – unless you go to the top, to President Barack Obama.
To be sure, this story is not yet over. Even now the State Department is facing Congressional demands for an independent investigation. And even the liberal opposition – for example, Maine’s Republican Senator Susan Collins – is gunning for a better accounting. Collins argued the attack in Benghazi was not a black swan, “but rather an attack that should have been anticipated, based on the previous attacks against Western targets, the proliferation of dangerous weapons in Libya, the presence of Al Qaeda in the country and the overall threat environment.” Still, because Hillary Clinton is a liberal darling, her culpability in this matter has been sidestepped – both by her and by her natural allies.
It is, of course, possible if not probable that she is taking her marching orders on what publicly to say direct from the White House. Obviously the last thing the Obama administration, the Obama campaign, now needs is a foreign policy debacle for which the president and his team can reasonably be held responsible. Nevertheless it would have been seemly for the Secretary of State to display some small measure of contrition, and some small measure of individual and institutional responsibility. Similarly, it would have been seemly for a liberal outlet such as the New York Times not to bury the lead in an article titled, “After Libya Attack, a Fleeting Sense of Survival.” It would have been better and more to the point to take a tack similar to that of the conservative Wall Street Journal, which titled its article on the same story on the same day, “Miscues Before Libya Assault: Limited Security in Benghazi … Contributed to Tragedy.”