Hillary Clinton noted that, as Secretary of State, she is ultimately responsible for the safety of American diplomats. Conservatives are already stumbling all over themselves to construe this statement as if Hillary Clinton were “taking the fall” for the events in Benghazi to shield the President from blame.
But, Republicans and Mitt Romney may want to watch themselves. Clinton’s statement could be a trap.
Put aside that this statement was made to a reporter off-hand while on a diplomatic trip, hardly the basis of a public cover up. Plus she didn’t take “blame” for the attacks, she said that the Secretary of State is responsible for the security specifics of diplomatic facilities and personnel. Not a newsflash. I guess it would be news for anyone who thought the President of the United States gets into daily decision-making about how many security guards get sent to which facility throughout the world, but who really thought that?
Look, what happens next? He cannot throw Clinton under the bus and will accept ultimate responsibility for overall American security because he does not manage the day-to-day details of State Department policy but respects that as chief executive he’s responsible for everything that happens. He will then defend himself by explaining that he sought more funding for embassy security and Republicans blocked it and note that he will not back down in the face of terrorism.
President Obama may be shielded from the details but not the overarching security concerns. People on all sides know that he is responsible and Hillary Clinton cannot blunt 100% of that effect, so admitting it only gives him the opportunity to execute the arguments I explained yesterday.
But the most important part of that answer is “chief executive.” Remember the kerfuffle over the summer as Romney fought back against devastating Bain ads by saying, “well, we were the CEO, but that doesn’t mean we were really running Bain.”
Uh oh Mitt. The President is suddenly standing up to his obligations as CEO while you duck yours. Enter Bain Capital Redux. So be careful Mitt, this could be a trap.