Saturday, October 24, 2015

How Did Hillary "Win" the Benghazi Committee Hearing?

Smartest person in the room? Almost always.

Hillary Clinton won the Benghazi hearing yesterday because she outsmarted the Republican side of the panel.

That's it exactly. But being smart isn't enough. Having a strategy is required. What was Hillary's?

I watched almost every minute of the 11 hours the committee was in session, so I have a clear picture of what she did.
  • She listened patiently to the questions, many of which were designed to antagonize and bully her. She carefully avoided reacting to the insulting, abusive nature of the clearly prosecutorial style of the questioning.
  • When it was her turn, she carefully began answering the question directly, but then brought the answer over to merge with the narrative she had been building all day, which was one of competent and compassionate understanding of statecraft, of its goals and limitations.
  • In a sense, this meant that regardless of the question or the questioner, she controlled the narrative throughout the long hours.
  • This was painfully obvious to the GOP interrogators, who lost their cool, when their own strategy apparently required Hillary to lose hers. Didn't happen, and they, er, lost.
  • They didn't simply lose, they were bested. It was palpable throughout the room, throughout the day. It produced a veritable drumbeat of defeat. You could see that defeat in the sweaty brow of Trey Gowdy when, after threatening another round of questioning -- during which they might, presumably, finally cause Hillary to crack -- he suddenly gaveled the hearing to a close.
The Benghazi committee was formed to persecute Hillary Clinton through prosecution. That's why Trey Gowdy, a former prosecutor, was chosen to lead it. A good prosecutor formulates and then weaves a story and controls that story's narrative until his case is proven. When the committee lost control of the narrative -- which Clinton deftly took total control of -- the prosecution became fruitless.

Game over.

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