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Hillary Faces Down The Angry Men

From simpleton Ron Johnson to delusional Rand Paul, GOP senators swung at the Secretary of State and hit themselves.

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Florida’s Marco Rubio was at least respectful, and asked an actual question about compound security rather than merely grandstanding. But he looked junior and not quite ready for prime time one on one with the secretary of state.

Did we learn anything from the hearing about what happened Sept. 11, and underlying security problems at the compound? Not really. Clinton told the senators that she hadn’t been told about cables asking for more security, but Admiral Mike Mullen already testified the same thing last month. She confirmed that a suspect had been released by the Tunisian government but remained under watch. Yet there was far more interest in pursuing what Susan Rice knew and when she knew it than probing what the Benghazi attack revealed about our strategy and standing Libya or the Middle East.

But we did learn something about politics from Wednesday’s Senate tableau: the rules of the game are changing for women in public life and politics. We’re not supposed to get weepy, or lose our temper; Clinton did both during the hearing and got praise for her sincerity and her righteous anger.

Has she put the Benghazi controversy behind her, in the event that she decides to run for president in 2016? Given the craziness of the GOP, it’s hard to say. Rand Paul made sure to get on the record that “you accept the culpability for the worst tragedy since 9/11, and I really mean that.” Alrighty then. But I can say with certainty: Clinton has a far better chance of becoming president than Rand Paul ever will, no matter what happens on Benghazi.

As I write, Clinton is still testifying to a House committee on Benghazi. She’s already rapped them for embassy security cuts in recent budgets. If any news breaks, I’ll update this post.


Joan Walsh is Salon's editor-at-large, and the author of "What's the Matter With White People: Finding Our Way in the Next America." Read more of her work at Salon.