On September 11, 2012, the U.S. Diplomatic Mission in Benghazi was attacked by a heavily armed group of 125-150 gunmen, whose trucks bore the logo of Ansar al-Sharia, a group of Islamist militants working with the local government to manage security in Benghazi. U.S. Ambassador J. Christopher Stevens, Foreign Service Information Officer Sean Smith, and CIA contractors and former Navy SEALS Tyrone Woods and Glen Doherty were killed during a series of raids, commencing at nightfall and continuing into the next morning. Ten others were injured.
This week, Hillary Clinton (Secretary of State at the time of the Benghazi incident) told ABC’s Diane Sawyer that as head of the State Department at the time she takes responsibility for deaths of four Americans in Benghazi, Libya on Sept. 11, 2012, but added that she did not have the expertise to make decisions, such as where walls should be secured against bombings.
“What I did was give very direct instructions that the people who have the expertise and experience in security,” Clinton said. “I’m not equipped to sit and look at blueprints, to determine where the blast walls need to be or where the reinforcements need to be. That’s why we hire people who have that expertise.”
She’s essentially saying: “It’s not my fault.”
Of course, those in positions of influence or power are not permitted to criticize a female candidate for President for this reason. To say so would make one a “sexist.” It reinforces stereotypes held by some people that women lack accountability, at least when in positions of high authority in business or politics. But it’s still what she’s saying, isn’t it?
If you own your own business, imagine taking this attitude. Imagine telling your customers, “Well, you’re right that this product should not have been smashed when you received it. But you have to understand: I don’t have the expertise to keep that from happening. I’m counting on the experts I hire to take care of this.”
What would you think? Most likely something like, “Why is that my problem? And why can’t you take responsibility for finding better people?”
You’d probably consider it unprofessional for the business owner or boss to say such a thing. If you’re at a restaurant and the food came out bad, you don’t expect the manager or restaurant owner to say, “Well, you’re right, that’s not a good thing. But I’m counting on people in the kitchen not to make these mistakes. That’s why we hire culinary experts.”
Of course, Hillary Clinton may be wrong in substance, but she accurately senses the attitudes of our time. America is full of people who lack accountability and who run through life acting and feeling like perpetual victims. They’ll identify with her in this respect, and perhaps vote for her for that reason alone.
Her response here will appeal to the sort of people who will react with something like, “That’s right. She couldn’t get good help. That’s not her fault!” It resonates within people who have issues with personal accountability. That’s why a majority of us keep picking leaders like this. Barack Obama was the prince of unaccountability; Hillary Clinton will be its queen.
How does one “take responsibility” and at the same time claim, “But I didn’t have good people around me”? Doesn’t this seem contradictory? Doesn’t the latter statement imply that you really weren’t fully responsible for what happened?
Hillary Clinton should at least make up her mind. If she was the victim of bad employees in Benghazi, she shouldn’t take responsibility. She should hold those accountable who are, and not take responsibility herself.
Harry Truman famously said about the Presidency, “The buck stops here.” The phrase implies no excuses, no explanations, no ifs, ands or buts. That’s why he didn’t say, “The buck stops here — provided, of course, you have good experts around you.”
Margaret Thatcher, who ran Great Britain’s government in the 1980s with far less media and cultural support than Hillary Clinton enjoys, also famously said, “What Britain needs is an iron lady.” America, on the verge of fiscal and monetary calamity and social breakdown with entitlement programs costing trillions of dollars per minute, surely could use an iron lady right now.
Hillary Clinton barely qualifies as a paper tiger. Yet she seems the perfect leader for our times. Do you go through life with a perpetual chip on your shoulder? Do you feel entitled to even more than you earned or deserve? Then surely … Hillary is your man.