Will the Benghazi Victims' Families Play a Role in the 2016 Campaign?
It's interesting to listen to all of the talk in the media right now about Hillary Clinton's presidential aspirations. We're more than three years out from the next time America gets to vote for a new commander-in-chief, and several experts are already insisting that Clinton's a shoe-in for the 2016 Democratic nomination.
We're being told that Clinton is the chosen one, and that any primary opponent that runs against her will only serve as a puppet candidate to further bolster her credibility.
Whether or not that's true, it's hard to deny that she'll have a lot of things working in her favor between now and election night.
No longer part of the Obama administration, she'll be able to spend the next couple of years portraying herself as an outsider, unaccountable for whatever new controversies, scandals, and consequences of failed Obama policies happen to arise.
A fawning national media is eager to sing her praises. Journalists are prepared to demonstrate how sorry they are for abandoning her in 2008 and casting her candidacy aside to usher the first black president into the White House. They'll make it up to her by portraying her as a historical, transformational figure at every opportunity. And the moment she's targeted with any significant criticism from across the political aisle, the Republicans' War on Women will be magically resurrected from the dead and substantiated by the likes of George Stephanopoulous, Brian Williams, and whoever else is occupying the big seats at the major news networks.
Lastly, as of now, a majority of Americans seem to like Hillary Clinton. Her approval rating last month was still over 50%, and the same national polls show her topping all likely Republican presidential candidates in head to head match-ups. She has broader appeal than President Obama and it makes sense why. She's always been less polarizing in her rhetoric, choosing to consciously present herself as moderate in recent years. And even though her record of public service is stunningly lacking of any notable achievements, she does seem to have a strong work ethic. That and the fact that she saw importance in serving two terms in the U.S. Senate before beginning her first presidential campaign even managed to earn some respect from right-leaning thinkers like me. In fact, I've heard from a number of Republicans who've confessed that they would much rather have Clinton as our president than the guy currently in office.
But beyond all of these very real advantages, it seems to me that Clinton's viability as a presidential candidate comes with a significant Achilles heel: Her handling of the terrorist attack in Benghazi, Libya on September 11th, 2012.
Now, I know what you're thinking... A lot of Americans never really seemed to grasp the controversy and scandal surrounding the Benghazi attack. With the media intent on dismissing the story from the very beginning, and the Obama administration actively covering up the details of the strike and the U.S. government's response to it, I'm not convinced we'll ever get the full picture of what all went down that night.
But we do know something very important. We know that a few days after the attack, U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton looked into the eyes of the four mourning families whose loved ones had just been murdered, and she told them a bold-faced, self-serving lie.
Clinton chose not to tell the families the true circumstances of what happened - circumstances she was fully aware of. She chose not to vow to them that the killers would be brought to justice. She chose instead to tell them that an amateur filmmaker was to blame for the attack, and she assured the families that that filmmaker would be apprehended by the U.S. government.
We all now know, as Clinton already knew that day, that the filmmaker was merely a scapegoat that the Obama administration used (as part of a completely fabricated story about a spontaneous mob) to pin blame for the attack on, two months before a presidential election.
When that part of the Benghazi story came to light, I lost all respect I had for Clinton. What she did was scandalous. It was an act of absolute deception and cowardice.
I can't even imagine how perverse and infuriating the premise of President Hillary Clinton has to be to people like Charles Woods and Pat Smith. They're two of the parents of the Benghazi victims who have spoken out publicly about the outrageous incident with Clinton, as well as the absence of honest answers they've received about what happened that night. I also can't imagine how they must have felt when Clinton insisted, during congressional testimony, that it didn't matter how their sons were killed.
I can't begin to put myself in the shoes of these families and relate to their pain. I have to believe, however, that if an aspiring presidential candidate lied to me about how my son was killed in order to preserve their own political reputation, I would do everything I possible could to make sure that person wasn't elected. It wouldn't matter what political party they were in. It wouldn't matter who their opponents were. My view would be that such a person would lack the moral character to be our nation's president.
For that reason, I wouldn't be surprised at all to see some of these families step forward and make their voices heard during the 2016 election-cycle, possibly as part of a media campaign. I think they have a story that people need to hear - especially when so few in this country were paying attention to it the first time around.
And if the families choose to take that story to the airwaves in opposition of Hillary Clinton's candidacy, I think that's something that will certainly make Americans think twice about voting for her. I think it's something that could squelch the notion that her ascension to the White House is a foregone conclusion.
We'll have to wait and see.