Next week, on October 22nd, HRC will finally appear before the House Select Committee on Benghazi, something that she requested over a year ago. Between now and then, this august panel has taken to interrogating a number of the former Secretary of State’s close associates, including her once Chief-of-Staff, Cheryl Mills, and aide Huma Abedin. Oddly, perhaps even tellingly, Committee Chairman, Trey Gowdy (R-SC) has yet to call the very people who might well be the best sources of information on how the deaths of four Americans in Libya could have happened; i.e. members of the Intelligence community and survivors of the attack.
What has cast a pall over the run-up to HRC’s testimony is now growing public recognition that the Committee’s principal and very biased motive has been to undercut the woman’s credibility as a viable presidential candidate. This perception has been fueled by House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy’s inadvertent admission of as much, by a similar acknowledgement by Congressman Richard Hanna (R – NY), and by Bradley Podliska, a Committee staff member. Their statements, highly similar in content, have put the Committee, and Gowdy in particular, on the defensive. Not surprisingly, they have mounted their own “push-back” campaign in an effort to discredit the tattletales.
All this recent history raises an interesting question: How will Republican Committee members, individually and collectively, undertake their interviewing of HRC? At least two possibilities exist: First, they may try to come across as calm, objective, open-minded and without a partisan agenda, all in effort to negate the aforementioned claims of bias. Second, they may come after the witness with an unbridled ferocity which is what their conservative base is demanding. Because HRC’s appearance will be broadcast on C-SPAN it will be widely disseminated and therefore, available to public scrutiny, thus running the risk of generating sympathy for her if the questioning approaches abusiveness.
The view held here is that the hearing will start off on an adult level. But, if HRC has consistent success in effectively answering and even rebutting the questions of Republican interrogators, the more desperate they will become in their effort to land one or more telling “punches”. If desperation does begin to set in, there will come a tipping point beyond which, Republicans have a long history of making the same mistake; i.e. over-reaching. If they repeat that history, then be on the lookout for real emotion-laden confrontational styles complete with pious pronouncements, posturing and pontificating. At the very least, HRC will get a good scolding for her use of a private server and what will be represented as her “careless” handling of potentially sensitive emails.
How HRC stands up under this very bright light, and especially how the media portray her performance will go a long way towards either boosting or damaging her candidacy, and what VP Joe Biden decides to do vis a vis his own possible entry into the Democrats’ presidential sweepstakes. Apropos the latter, if HRC is undone in front of the Committee, then watch for Biden to jump in.
The chances are better than good that the hearing will be theatrical; possibly in the worst sense of that word. Stay tuned.