Donald Trump surged to the top of the Republican polls this summer on the strength of 24/7 news coverage. But that was nothing compared to the 11-hour infomercial for Hillary Clinton brought to you by the House Benghazi committee on Wednesday.
Un-self-aware to a fault, the committee, led by South Carolina Congressman Trey Gowdy, who raises money based on his uber-Benghazi-ness, questioned Clinton beginning just after 10 a.m. into the early afternoon, the early evening and for an hour of prime time on the East Coast, and not surprisingly, Clinton more than handled herself.
“Mr. Chairman, I really don’t care what you all say about me. It doesn’t bother me a bit,” Clinton said toward the end of the long, long, long day in front of the committee, which ostensibly had Clinton on hand to talk about the Sept. 11, 2012, attacks on the consulate in Benghazi, Libya, which ended with the deaths of four Americans, including U.S. Ambassador Christopher Stevens, to learn more about how to prevent such attacks in the future.
But we all knew that the committee wasn’t empaneled to learn anything. Former future House speaker Kevin McCarthy made that clear in a recent interview on Fox News in which he let slip that the committee’s focus was on hurting Clinton’s electoral prospects.
As the hearing dragged on into the early and then late evening, it was clear what the goal was: to catch a tired Clinton napping to set up a political gotcha moment.
It didn’t come. Clinton, channeling her inner Bill Clinton, took his parsing the definition of what the meaning of the word is is to a whole ‘nother level, outlasting her Republican interlocutors not once, not twice, but three times, as Gowdy was reduced to calling for a lunch break around 1:30 p.m., then calling for a break around 4 p.m. for a floor vote on a supposedly pressing issue related to a meaningless mining bill.
The third time came just before 9 p.m. Eastern, by which time it was abundantly clear that Clinton was Br’er Rabbit, and the hearing was her Briar Patch.
Clinton, by that point, had been on live national TV for close to 11 hours, minus the lunch and mining-bill breaks, which were filled in with analysis from the cable-news networks repeatedly saying Clinton, Clinton, Clinton, Clinton.
She was clearly ready to go all night, because why wouldn’t she be, considering how well she was doing?
To say that House Republicans overplayed their hand would be to inaccurately give them credit for having a hand in the first place. They had nothing, knew that going in, had to be aware of that as the first couple of hours played out, and unbelievably let themselves get smacked down for several hours after it was clear that she was cleaning their ever-lovin’ clocks.
It will be interesting to see what the TV numbers have to say about the number of total viewers over the 11 hours of the televised circus that went on and on and on today.
It’s safe to assume that the total viewership will dwarf the fabled Fox News Republican debate that was all-Trump, all-the-time.
Today may have been the most riveting day in American TV history. And Hillary Clinton was the unquestioned star.
Thanks to House Republicans, who made the push for today’s Super Bowl-like political farce, the line to the Hillary Clinton Inaugural forms, not unironically, to the right.
– Column by Chris Graham