TYRRELL: Hillary takes a fall

Excusing herself from Benghazi hearing has familiar ring

Think back. Have we not experienced all this before, say in the 1990s?

Ever since October we have known that the defense measures at our Benghazi diplomatic installation were inadequate. There was the controversy over whether the assault on our diplomatic compound was caused by a peaceful demonstration that went haywire. It turned out there was no peaceful demonstration, contrary to the State Department’s early account, but that was lost in the next controversy. That was the dispute over whether there was sufficient security at the installation. Officials from State appeared before Congress. Some testified there was sufficient security. Some said there was not sufficient security. Some State Department officials contradicted themselves. Ultimately, the entire question was wrapped in chaos as still other questions became incomprehensible. Let us move on.

We have experienced this chaos before. Think back to the late Vince Foster. Think about the chaos of Whitewater. Think about, for that matter, the whole Clinton administration, including their harum-scarum departure from the White House.

What do all these chaotic incidents have in common? They have the Clintons, of course, the most chaotic married couple in recent American history. Now Hillary Rodham Clinton, the secretary of state, is not going to testify before Congress — again, chaos. At first she was, and she took “full responsibility” for the Benghazi tragedy. No, make that the Benghazi chaos. Then she was not. She had to travel. No, then she got sick and would neither travel nor testify. No, wait a second. Things get worse. She fell at her home owing to dehydration and suffered a concussion and she absolutely will not travel or testify or go to the hospital. It is that serious, and she probably will not be watching the NFL on Sunday — just to be sure.

Once again, there is chaos surrounding the Clintons, though I do not know what Bill is doing about all this. We do know that Martin Scorsese is filming a documentary about his life or at least his expurgated life.

The former first lady suffered a concussion. She became dehydrated and fainted. She never went to a hospital. So all we have is her word for that concussion. She is taking a week off and will be back in the office eventually. That is the official word from The Associated Press. There is no promise to appear before Congress on the Benghazi debacle, but there was a report in The New York Times on Dec. 9 that spoke of her limitless opportunities in the years ahead, among them a run for the presidency in 2016. There was no mention of Benghazi in the story.

“The former first lady,” the AP report tells us, “is known for her grueling travel schedule and is the most traveled secretary of state, having visited 112 countries while in the job.” The AP does not mention it, but while she was visiting 112 countries, relations with Moscow, Beijing and assorted hot spots have worsened.

All this chaos frankly troubles me and ought to trouble Congress. To begin with, there is the chaos over Benghazi. Questions remain, not just about what started it and how well defended the installation was, but what our diplomats and the CIA were doing there. That would be a good start. Then there is again the chaos over Mrs. Clinton. How is she doing healthwise?

Why does she have no plans to appear before Congress? Does that mean never? Will her health permit it? There are all sorts of rumors running through Washington. Some are absurd. Others are quite plausible. For instance, does she drink? Some say she does. Do you remember the picture of a sloshed Hillary balancing herself on her campaign plane during her primary race back in 2008? It was Hillary at her most convivial, but in light of more recent events it is cause for concern.

Those of us who have studied the Clintons realize that after every scandal — or call them controversies — the Clintons have followed a pattern of overreacting. This could be part of the pattern. She and her entourage at State orchestrated a cover-up around the Benghazi blunders. Then they panicked as the details came out. It would not be the first time for Hillary. It stressed her out. She went too far, thinking her concussion would be helpful. No one would question it. Yet now they do.

R. Emmett Tyrrell Jr. is founder and editor-in-chief of The American Spectator and an adjunct scholar at the Hudson Institute. He is the author most recently of “The Death of Liberalism” (Thomas Nelson, 2012).

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