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No, Mrs. Clinton didn’t fall on her sword over Benghazi

If she had fallen on her sword, she would not just have (verbally) taken responsibility for Benghazi, but would also have resigned her post.

Hillary Clinton, headlines Adam Clark Estes’s post on Yahoo! News about the Secretary of State taking responsibility for what happened in Libya on 09/11/12, “Falls on Her Sword“:

To put things quite literally, she told a CNN reporter on Monday, just a few minutes after landing in Peru for a visit, very plainly, “I take responsibility” for what happened in Libya on September 11. CNN makes it clear that she “insisted President Barack Obama and Vice President Joe Biden are not involved in security decisions.” With the election right around the corner and everything, Clinton added, “I want to avoid some kind of political gotcha.”

Unfortunately, Mr. Estes (or his editor) has no clue about the meaning of the expression, “to fall on one’s sword.” Nor do the others who used the expression to discuss Mrs. Clinton’s statement yesterday.  Falling on one’s sword does not mean taking responsibility.  ”If someone falls on their sword, they resign or accept the consequences of some wrongdoing.“*

Mrs. Clinton has not announced her resignation.  And even if she did, she wouldn’t get Obama off the hook.**

Indeed, her statement may actually hurt Obama.  Given her prominence, by saying she takes responsibility, the Secretary of State elevates the story; it has gotten a lot of coverage already — and will get even more today.  People will wonder why it took thirty-four days for someone in the administration to take responsibility for our failure to secure the consulate in Benghazi.

And we see no indication that the administration intends to shake-up things up at the State Department on in the intelligence community.  Though we would if Mrs. Clinton did indeed fall on her sword — and offer her resignation.

*(The expression comes from the Roman practice of a committing suicide usually to avoid dishonor by literally falling on one’s sword.)

UPDATE:   At that link, Bruce Kesler excerpts a joint statement from U.S. Senators John McCain (R-AZ), Lindsey Graham (R-SC) and Kelly Ayotte (R-NH):

If the President was truly not aware of this rising threat level in Benghazi, then we have lost confidence in his national security team, whose responsibility it is to keep the President informed. But if the President was aware of these earlier attacks in Benghazi prior to the events of September 11, 2012, then he bears full responsibility for any security failures that occurred. The security of Americans serving our nation everywhere in the world is ultimately the job of the Commander-in-Chief. The buck stops there.

And Glenn Reynolds reports something Hillary Clinton said to Obama in 2008:

“The Buck Stops In The Oval Office.” “Hillary Clinton also said at rally in Missouri in January, ‘I believe we need a president who believed what Harry Truman believed. That [the] buck stopped in the Oval Office.’”

UP-UPDATE: Hillary in 2008: “That buck stopped in the Oval Office”

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31 Comments

  1. I wonder if we’ll ever know what Obama is holding over the Clintons that makes them so eager to get on their knees before him.

    Comment by windybon — October 16, 2012 @ 11:35 am - October 16, 2012

  2. She might have offered to resign, but the White House wouldn’t want a messy resignation just weeks before the Presidential election…particularly if once out of office Mrs. Clinton (and Bill) ripped Obama a new-one on the Pundit Circuit immediately-afterwards.

    As a member of the Cabinet, she’s still constrained to toe-the-Obama-line.

    Comment by Ted B. (Charging Rhino) — October 16, 2012 @ 11:54 am - October 16, 2012

  3. Ace of Spades has a really interesting interpretation of Hillary’s announcement. In essence, the author sees it as supporting Romney’s charges about Obama’s lack of leadership and responsibility. There’s a great line there about Hillary giving Romney a baseball bat and pointing him toward the giant Obama pinata. It’s well worth the read for insight and entertainment.

    Scroll down at the link by DrewM posted @ 9:02:

    http://ace.mu.nu/

    Comment by T — October 16, 2012 @ 11:57 am - October 16, 2012

  4. T, just read it. You’re right. DrewM is most insightful. Here’s the url to the post itself–http://ace.mu.nu/archives/333870.php

    Comment by B. Daniel Blatt — October 16, 2012 @ 12:02 pm - October 16, 2012

  5. I think Hillary is looking toward 2016 and is trying to make herself look Presidential by accepting responsibility for something that happened on her watch. She is the Secretary of State and directly responsible for everything under her whether she has knowledge or control of those things. Welcome to leadership! One of Obama’s biggest problems is that he is not a leader at all. Hillary wants to avoid getting tagged with that.

    I also believe that the root of the problem is Obama’s naive foreign policy, which Hilary has to abide by. Still, she took the job and knew what it entailed.

    Comment by Hunter — October 16, 2012 @ 12:52 pm - October 16, 2012

  6. Pretty sure Hillary has already indicated she isn’t going to serve a 2nd term, so my guess is the admin doesn’t want the media circus of a forced resignation when that resignation is on its way anyway.

    I am not sure I totally buy the Ace of Spades theory, but I do think he is right in that Hillary taking responsibility doesn’t absolve Obama of his role in the fiasco and especially the lies that followed, and it puts him in a position of having to defend his ineffectual leadership.

    I saw a link to a tweet somewhere-that said “We know what happens when Obama gets that 3am call, he forwards it to Hillary.”

    This pretty much sums up the admission from Hillary.

    Comment by Just Me — October 16, 2012 @ 1:18 pm - October 16, 2012

  7. Ah, I see T and Dan have already linked to that great piece at Ace of Spades HQ. One of the insightful observations there is that Hillary isn’t taking the blame, she’s taking the credit. I really like the debate suggestions for Romney over there, too.

    Comment by Kurt — October 16, 2012 @ 2:07 pm - October 16, 2012

  8. “Being President means being both CEO and COO of one of the largest and most complex organizations in the world,” Clinton said.

    “I know that we can get on top of this, but it’s going to require strong presidential leadership — it’s going to require a President who knows from day one you have to run a government and manage the economy,” Hillary Clinton added, using the flailing economy to hit Obama. “The buck stops in the Oval Office.”

    Comment by michele kelly — October 16, 2012 @ 2:46 pm - October 16, 2012

  9. “Well, here’s what I know, we were just talking about responsibility and as president of the United States, it’s pretty clear to me that I’m responsible for folks who are working in the federal government and you know, Harry Truman said the buck stops with you.”
    –President Obama, July 2012

    Comment by TnnsNE1 — October 16, 2012 @ 2:50 pm - October 16, 2012

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