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Today’s Champion is Tomorrow's Albatross

November 9, 2015

If there’s one thing revealed by our presidential campaigns, it’s the fickle nature of the voting public. With so many Republican candidates in the running, it’s virtually impossible to know who their nominee will be, come next July. That is not the case on the Democrat side. Hillary Clinton seems clearly destined for that role.  But it’s not because Democratic voters have already made up their minds.  It is because the Democratic leadership has made up their minds for them.  Their exhaustive efforts to groom their chosen nominee were apparent during Clinton’s recent testimony on Benghazi. 
During that October 22nd testimony, there was no sign of the bespectacled termagant, demanding to know what difference it made why those men died.  This time, the questions about the validity and purpose of the hearings came from the dais - from the Democratic members of the committee.  This time, Clinton’s demeanor was poised, relaxed, dignified, and unflappable.  For her supporters, that was enough to qualify her for the nomination. 
It was with the help of Elijah Cummings and the other Democrats, that Clinton was able to remold herself, replacing a glib, snarky politician with a woman of deep compassion and humility.  In mid-afternoon, following a prompt by Cummings, Clinton delivered a halting and emotional six-minute soliloquy recounting the details of the massacre.  It showed that she can talk about Benghazi with compassion, so we assume she can now talk about the related email investigation without cracking up.
While her performance reassured her loyalists, no one else was convinced.  They wondered where that reverence was in the immediate aftermath of the attack, a time when we would have expected emotions to be at their peak.  They remembered instead her steely-eyed announcement about the attack - her calculated deception involving some internet video.  They wondered where that dignified sensitivity was when she callously repeated the same lie to the grieving parents.  They know that Clinton’s handlers had been urging her to show a warmer, more likeable side, and that these public hearings provided a perfect opportunity to do that.  Everyone but her supporters saw a contrived set-up, and now they know the depths to which this woman will sink for political gain.
Her testimony yielded more than just that Oscar-worthy performance.  Even her Clintonesque word play and the obvious help from those Democratic committee members could not dismiss those newly-discovered emails and phone transcripts proving without doubt that Clinton was never confused by the fog of war - that she intentionally lied about the attack.    
It seems that she has been right about one thing all along, though.  There is a political conspiracy in play. But it’s not orchestrated by the right wing. It is a vast left-wing conspiracy, intent on protecting Obama and electing Clinton.  It includes those Democratic committee members who ignored their responsibility to establish the truth, and who instead chose to burnish Clinton’s image.  It includes everyone in the administration who lied about the Benghazi attack. It includes Lois Lerner and others in the IRS who selectively targeted political opponents, and the Justice Department, which found no criminal activity in their actions.  It clearly includes Democratic Party leaders, determined to foist this candidate on their constituents.
It was in April that Clinton launched her campaign with these words, “Everyday Americans need a champion, and I want to be that champion.”  After some sputtering and restarts, things are going better for her now.  Yet her supporters seem oblivious to one glaring fact.  After Clinton is nominated, her free ride will come to an end.  When she debates the Republican nominee, all of her baggage from the past will be resurrected, and already-wary voters will be reminded of her inherent dishonesty.  Her Republican opponent will not be joking about her decision to scrub those “damn emails,” a decision that led to the current FBI investigation centered on mishandling classified information and destroying evidence. 
Maybe her backers are hoping that Obama will run interference for her, as he did during the IRS investigation by prematurely concluding there was “not even a smidgen of corruption” in that agency.  He’s already tried to tip the scales in this investigation by proclaiming that Clinton simply made “a mistake,” and that no harm has been done to national security.  He’s also made it harder for investigators by withholding potentially crucial email correspondence between him and Clinton. 
But FBI investigators take their responsibility much more seriously than did Lois Lerner.  Should they uncover compelling evidence of serious criminal activity by a presidential nominee, and Obama attempts to suppress it, the resulting scandal would make Nixon’s Watergate look like a college prank.     
Besides, the congressional investigation on Benghazi has not yet ended.  We still don’t know why no one has been held accountable for the death of four diplomats, including the first assassination of a U.S. Ambassador since 1979.  We don’t know who rejected 600 requests for security upgrades, or on what basis.  We suspect, but still don’t know with certainty why an irrelevant figure like Susan Rice took the place of Secretary of State Clinton to address the attack on a State Department facility.
Hillary Clinton may look like a champion today, but in the not too distant future, she could very well become an albatross, a dead weight around the neck of the Democratic Party. 

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Peter Lemiska has spent more than 28 years in government service. He is a former Senior Special Agent of the U.S. Secret Service and an Air Force veteran. His political commentaries have been widely published online and in print.