Things are not going so well for Hillary Clinton this week.
While a Washington Post-ABC News poll shows her getting a big bump from registered or leaning Democratic voters after her performance in last week’s Democratic debate, the road ahead is strewn with political obstacles.
Major newspapers, including The Washington Post, and TV networks were readying stories Tuesday that Vice President Joe Biden could announce his candidacy within 48 hours, further dividing her party with a popular, heavyweight candidate.
Later this week, she is scheduled to be grilled by a phalanx of House Republicans on the Select Committee on Benghazi that is investigating her mishandling of U.S. security that could have saved the lives of four Americans who were murdered in a massive terrorist attack at the U.S. consulate there.
The panel is investigating Mrs. Clinton’s acknowledged failure to adequately respond in time to the heartrending pleas for added security from U.S. Ambassador J. Christopher Stevens, who died in the fiery attack that critics say could have been thwarted.
Democrats have been responding to the investigation by saying that it is a political witch hunt to go after Mrs. Clinton and undermine her candidacy. Indeed, the entire House Democratic leadership wants to sweep the whole matter under the rug, showing no interest in finding out what went wrong and who is to blame.
Instead, they’ve been attacking Republican Rep. Trey Gowdy of South Carolina, who chairs the committee, charging that his investigation is politically motivated.
A GOP-funded, Stop Hillary PAC has been running a TV ad that shows pictures of the four government officials killed in the attack, when a narrator says this: “Dear Hillary Clinton, I’d like to ask you why you ignored calls for help in Benghazi and then four Americans were murdered . But Mrs. Clinton, I can’t.”
Dan Backer, the treasurer of the GOP Political Action Committee, says the purpose of the ad has nothing to do with Mr. Gowdy or the presidential campaign.
“It has to do with holding the people responsible for this awful tragedy accountable for their mistakes,” Mr. Backer said.
Mr. Gowdy also shot back at his critics on CBS’ “Face The Nation” Sunday, including some in his own party.
“I have told my own Republican colleagues and friends, shut up talking about things that you don’t know anything about. And unless you’re on the committee, you have no idea what we have done, why we have done it and what new facts we have found,” he said.
We’ll find out soon enough what the committee has uncovered, but one thing we already know for sure. If the Democrats were charge of the House, instead of the GOP, this investigation and hearing would not be taking place.
Meantime, Hillary Clinton is the subject of another government investigation, including the State Department she headed, an army of inspectors general, the intelligence community, a bunch of congressional committees and subcommittees, and forensic specialists in the art of retrieving deleted emails.
All of them are still sifting through Mrs. Clinton’s email from her off-the-books, once-secret home computer system that we now know has compromised classified information.
By the way, Hillary deleted a huge number of her emails herself, deeming many of them to be “personal.”
When Mrs. Clinton was appointed secretary of state, she was advised to use the department’s own protected email system, as most former secretaries have done.
But her obsessive secrecy led her to install her own private system, putting her messages at risk to hackers among America’s adversaries.
After being politically battered for months over the scandal and watching her candidacy plunge in the polls, she abruptly stopped defending her decision.
It was “a mistake” that she regretted, she said.
But it was much more than that. It was a serious lapse in judgment — the one critical quality the presidency requires most.
This week, the Democrats released a 124-page report defending that judgment, along with a video, that denied she personally approved a decision to reduce the level of security at Benghazi.
In the video, a staffer asked the former U.S. deputy chief of mission in Libya, who was never identified, “Do you have any evidence that Secretary of State Clinton ordered Secretary of Defense [Leon] Panetta to ‘stand down’ on the night of the attacks?”
In another query, the unidentified American diplomat was asked, “Do you have any evidence that Secretary of State Clinton issued any kind of order to Secretary of State Panetta on the night of the attacks?”
The unidentified chief of mission in Libya replied “no” to both questions.
Mrs. Clinton was praised in the video by Mr. Panetta, former Defense Secretary Robert M. Gates and former Secretary of State Madeleine Albright, who said, “I don’t think I have ever met a person more prepared to be president.”
But stop and think for a moment what has happened in the world after Mrs. Clinton’s watch as secretary of state.
Under a policy from President Obama and Mrs. Clinton over a period of years to “reset” improved relations with Russia, Moscow has seized the Crimean Peninsula from Ukraine, and has taken over territory in eastern Ukraine.
Russia has sent fighter jets into Syria as a proxy in the war, supporting Syrian dictator Bashar Assad’s attacks against his own people.
The terrorists’ widening war has spread throughout the Middle East and threatens us and our allies.
Thus far, Mrs. Clinton has not questioned or uttered a word of criticism of Mr. Obama’s foreign policy. This is hardly a record Americans can put their faith in if she becomes the next president.
This is all about judgment, and on that critical score she gets a failing grade.
• Donald Lambro is a syndicated columnist and contributor to The Washington Times.